The Shop - See “Tour the Shop” Post. To zoom tap images, to mega zoom, tap-tap, tap.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Smell of Sawdust

My former home in Northern VA is surrounded by deep, wooded ravines. There were many fallen trees in the woods, mostly 12”+ chestnut oaks. On a cool autumn day it was pleasant to work in the quiet woods, bucking the trees into fire wood lengths. The aroma of freshly sawn oak was wonderful. Often a squirrel or bird would perch on the end of my log, wondering what I was up to.
No noisy chain saws here. I used these Disston one/two man timber saws. Four footers that, when sharp, easily sliced through the oak. The hardest part of the job was hauling the bucked logs out of the steep ravine.

Wolves at the Door

Like a wolf, I am compelled to mark my territory. These plaques are on the doors to the Wolfden Woodshop (left) and the New Wolfden Woodshop (right). This design originates with the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Colonial Williamsburg No Longer Using Vintage Tools

The craft shops at Colonial Williamsburg (CW) have recognized that using old tools wears them out, which is counter to the desire to preserve knowledge of vintage tools and the tools themselves. A modern toolmaking shop was created in CW in the 1980’s to build reproduction tools for use in the shops. From photos of this operation, I would guess 100 years-worth of repro tools were made. This shop is no longer in operation.

Don't think tools can be worn out? Look at the thickness of the soles on wooden planes. A too wide cutter mouth is an indication of wear. I had a Stanley #5 iron jack plane from my grandfather.  The sole was worn down to nothing, you could see through it. I parted that one out. Narrow blades are an indication that a saw has been sharpened many times. I have an early Disston D15 Victory hand saw that has lost at least 1-1/2” to sharpening.

When I acquired my first 100 plus year old wood bottom planes, I tuned them and used them.  I have come to agree with CW,  old tools should be preserved by not using them. As satisfying as using vintage tools is, I now do not. Well, upon occasion, I might take a careful test drive.