Sunday, September 26, 2010

Of Planes & Workbenches...

Ok, you know you need at least a refresher post when you are sick of seeing your olde post.

After finishing John English's book on Hand Planes, I picked up Christopher Schwarz's book, Workbenches: From Design and Theory to Contruction and Use. Both were good reads and served as a fitting entry point into the realm of hand tools.

English's book is simple and straightfoward. He covers all the planing and scraping tools, with a history of major brands and offers his respectable opinion here and there. His book was an eye-opener and pleasantly illustrated. I'm sure that there are other books out there that are as just as good or better, but this one just happened to be on the shelf at my local Borders.

Schwarz's book, however, is an entirely different matter. It is profound, a book that makes you reconsider everything you know about woodworking and workbenches, even if you knew nothing in the first place. For the woodworker, the workbench is the most important tool in the shop, but a work bench is one of the most important tools in any shop.

You can do an amazing amount of work with a well-appointed bench, and Schwarz's book shows you how and is an excellent starting point for bring your own ideas to bench design. In addition, the book offers two plans for two distinct benches, which, in my opinion, are alone worth the price of the book. These benches, (one of which is pictured above), are not just serious tools, they are works of art as well.

In the book Schwarz poses the question, "Do you really need a massive, old-school workbench in your shop?" All I can say is, no, but after reading his book there's something wrong with you if you don't want one.

Over and Out,


Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Ramblings

I am a morning person. I tend to get things done more precisely and efficiently in the mornings than during the day. Perhaps that's why my body decided to get up at 4:33 AM today. My mind is fresh. My inspiration, unthwarted. And my energy, at peak.

My obsession with woodworking has continued unabated. Each day I wake up, and each day I wish I was working in my own shop, sharpening tools and creating furniture, cabinets, and other useful things. While I do not eschew power tools, I find myself increasingly drawn to using hand tools predominately. I am saving up for a set of chisels and a book on hand planes. As mentioned previously, I am also brainstorming on building a shop out back exclusively for working with wood. In the meantime, however, certain house projects demand completion and are front and center.

We are all recently returned from Myrtle Beach. What an awesome place! We stayed at Myrtle Beach State Park, which, with the exception of the occasional jet taking off, was an oasis of tranquility amidst the commercialized insanity. The ocean water was refreshing and revitalizing, and wiped away months of stress in minutes. We all left extremely chi'llaxed, especially me. I got a new lease on life, a new focus and new perspective. Don't get me wrong, the world is still going to blow up, the SHTF is on the horizon, but I can at least be a peaceful (Glock-wielding) person.

Before we left for the trip, I completed our walk-in outdoor chicken enclosure. It works great gives greater peace of mind over our chickens (hitherto they were free-ranging toward the road). With that, the core of the infrastructure for our goat-chicken set up is done for the year, notwithstanding some painting, reinforcing and fine tuning.

I am going to head out now and grab some more coffee. In the meantime, do what inspires you and enjoy your Labor Day.

Over and Out,