Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sawing out the Waste

The Bow Saw Approach

This post was inspired by Chris Schwarz' blog this morning dealing with the plus and minus' of using a Fret saw or a Coping saw for removing the waste between dovetails.
I too have struggled with the thicker blade of the coping saw and the seemingly less than ideal Fret saw market that exists; I have yet to find one I've enjoyed using...
'All you saw makers out there better get your gear on! '
Now that said I've been using my bow saw for the past few months and will probably never go back to the shorter throw of a Fret saw nor the clumsy feel and lack of decent blades for my Coping saw...
The Gramercy Tools 12" Bow saw, fitted with it's finest blade, (it came with three, a fine, medium and heavy) is hard to beat. I challenge anyone who has this saw to tell me what coping or fret saw on the market today does a better job at removing the waste when cutting dovetails. Seriously, I would love to know of a well made Fret saw.
If you don't already own a bow saw, maybe putting it on your-'list of tools to buy' is a good idea, you'll be surprised at how many times you'll be reaching for it. So a bow saw...when you get one...more specifically, get this one, try it out for cutting out the waste between dovetails; you won't be disappointed. It's a great deal at $139.00...actually I just checked the Tools for Working Wood website and it's 10% off right now! Geeze, like 'ol Joel was reading my mind!

This is a shot from two weeks ago; the bow saw on the bench in the background was used to saw out the waste in this difficult,'finger-jointed dovetailed' cabinet I'm building. Tough to beat indeed...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shaping Wood

Away with you Straight Edges

This past week I've been working on a bench that is destined for my dining room on one long side of the trestle table I built last year. The lawn furniture my kids have been sitting on up until this point has been re-possessed...hee-hee; you think I'm kidding...
I'm using reclaimed Angelique for the main bench carcass and frames with some Mahogany off cuts for the top cross slats and hand rails. After spending my winter building cabinets, frame work and square straight surfaces, the arms on this bench offered a nice change of pace for me. Nothing straight, gentle flowing lines and all done by eye with spokeshaves, gouges, rasps and scrapers. It's a great place to be, shaping wood without any sense of structure; free form sculpting, a little off of here, a bit more of a sweep there. Liberating indeed!
I use Veritas spokeshaves and have been for the past few years; I originally purchased them when I was building boats and have found them to be extremely easy to set-up and work with. The flat bottom and curved sole were both used in this project. I haven't had a chance to try the Lie-Nielsen/Brian Boggs spokeshaves but would be interested to hear what people think of them. I'm sure being designed by Boggs and manufactured by LN they're superb. It's mostly the weight of the tools I'm mostly curious about, the Lie Nielsen models seem to be bronze and look like they'd have a bit more weight to them...something I think would be a real asset to the working of the tool.
I find this to be one of the more enjoyable elements of wood working-this shaping wood. The bottom frame pictured has bridal joints in the corners and the horizontal pieces are just sitting for now. I'm going to fasten them with only dowels so in a few years as my children grow and get taller I'll be able to take out the bottom cross piece and lower the sitting height of the bench. These bottom cross pieces were an after thought to raise it up to 3 and 4 year old height. A place for children to sit is also what inspired the flowing arms...a little gentler on the head when they bang into it! I'm gearing up for another long haul of projects and am going to try to bring some more of these techniques into my cabinetwork; a blend of sweeping frames and square, structured carcass'...I've been designing some new pieces that will easily blend these two design features...stay tuned.