Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Woodworking Book Review: Beautiful Boxes, Design and Technique by Doug Stowe

Making small decorative boxes is a staple of the woodworker’s art.  Wherever you are in your journey with the craft, sooner or later you will want to make a box as a showpiece or a gift that will test your skills, both as a user of tools and as an innovator with design. And that’s where this book is a great support.

A short introduction, followed by a series of illustrated projects, takes you through the basics of construction - each stretching you a little further with techniques and design features. If you are new to this there are some great sidebar articles that explain how to make some really useful aids such as a simple shooting board and a router table for making finger joints. The design concepts are explained clearly as you progress from principles of proportion and the effect of colour, to adding surprises like unusual hinges and tops. There are very clear step by step instructions and the photography is excellent, making this both a workshop manual to have to hand  and an interesting browse when you not able to get out to the shop.

Beautiful Boxes, Design and Technique by Doug Stowe published by Taunton Press

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Studio Hardie Diaries - Creating a Plain Space for John Pawson

The team at Studio Hardie, based in Lewes, East Sussex, has a wide range of specialist expertise from cutting-edge design to age-old craft skills. In this post, Hamish Boden describes the challenges they faced when creating the ultimate modern exhibition space using traditional skills.
This project was a 1:1 scale architectural installation to host the Plain Space exhibition for British architect John Pawson , described by the New York Times as “the father of modern architectural minimalism”.  The installation space was both a location for the exhibition and part of the event and was based at the Design Museum, London, in September 2010. 

Hamish writes “This was one of Studio Hardie’s first full-scale architectural installations, essentially a building inside a building. The difficulty with achieving a crisp minimal look is that exposed fixings are not allowed so all the mechanics go on behind the scenes.

Another major hurdle of the project was the timescale, achieving the level of tolerance and perfection on a really tight installation turnaround. The beauty of having such a big workshop is that you can create entire structures, test them check everything fits and make fine adjustments before leaving the workshop, this can save days of site work.

Spending time meticulously planning the install is critical; the choreography of how everything comes together quickly, accurately and beautifully. We couldn’t rely on ‘off the shelf’ being totally straight so we designed a new system for making dead flat-straight walls out of MDF torsion boxes. You often hear carpenters complaining about using MDF but for us it was a rare treat.  We are used to using solid timber that shrinks cracks and moves.  MDF in contrast is a very predictable and versatile material.

It was a real challenge to create the curved ceiling.  We knew that constructing the sections on the floor would mean we could make a much better quality finish than working over-head. 
This is where modern technology meets classic old-fashioned carpentry knowledge. To get the perfect curve we had some roof fins cut with CNC and covered them with a thin sheet of MDF. 

Next we had the challenge of hoisting the entire roof up in to the air.  For this we simply made some large roof trusses that we knew would take the weight and bolted them to our structure.  We used a genie lift to hoist them in to the air and lowered it back down on to the walls.  Job done!”

Photos: Gilbert McCarragher

To find out more about the team at  Studio Hardie and their work, see our earlier blog post

Studio Hardie is based in Lewes, East Sussex. Website http://www.studiohardie.com

Friday, 30 October 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - Ingrained

It's been a while since we posted in our 'Best of the Woodworking Web' series, but we're back with a pretty good video (even if we do say so ourselves). This week's is from CoLab Creative and features woodworking artist, Steven Lane.

"Steven Lane is a woodworking artist, from the south island of New Zealand, with a unique approach to gathering the materials needed for his work. From eyewear to headphones,

Steven creates one of a kind pieces that are truly beautiful. He prefers salvaged materials, often traveling to the coast to find wood that has washed up on the beach and has the 'character and qualities' he can exploit."

Ingrained from CoLab Creative on Vimeo.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Woodworking Book review: Using Woodworking Tools by Lonnie Bird

First published in 2004, this is not a newly released book, so why are we reviewing it? Well, basically, because the contents are related to working with wood. Plus its combination of hand and power tools is still as relevant today as when it was originally penned.
Whilst this is a book primarily about tools and their use, the first section has some of the clearest instruction on the nature of wood — that ever-moving, shrinking, expanding, twisting, unstable but beautiful material we choose to work with. The skills of buying the right wood for your project, storing it correctly and choosing the right grain orientation for the task are often overlooked by the eager novice keen to create their first masterpiece. 

What I really enjoyed with this book is thinking about starting over in a new workshop. Taking the book in order, you start by thinking about your workbench and the key considerations when buying or making your own home base in the workshop. The plan continues with thoughts on clamps, vices and bench dogs, as well as some tips on making your own work supports such as bench hooks and shooting boards. Basic rule of this section, you can never have too many clamps.

When talking about tools, it’s easy to forget one of the critical components of many projects and that’s the glue that holds much of your project together. There is a huge array of modern adhesives available, many of which are described here together with some of the basic joints and the best way to clamp them up to achieve a great first-time fix. Though, as the development of high-quality adhesives seems to move forward very rapidly, this is an area of the book that could probably benefit from an update.

Then we get into the meat of this book — hand and power tools. As is traditional with these types of book, hand tools come first, which makes perfect sense. As most power tools are mechanised versions of a hand tool, you should really to get to grips (literally) with what you are trying to do by hand before reaching for something with an on button. There are sections on measuring and marking, saws and chisels, planes, files and rasps together with clear descriptions and excellent photography of key joints and techniques for use with each tool. There is also a really easy-to-understand explanation of sharpening, one of the best I have seen as a short section.

The power tool section is a good guide for terminology, basic technique and safety guidance with sections on table saws, jointing and planing, band saws, shapers and routers, and drilling and morticing machines. As a first look at powering up your workshop, it’s not a bad start. Of note in particular, there are some really good guides and infographics to help you understand the various blade types for the table saw and tooth forms for band saws. To be clear, it’s not an in-depth report detailing all the options and, as with the adhesive section, it is worth remembering that this book is nearly 12 years old and things have moved on significantly in terms of what’s available out there in the market. This is a good book to look over if you are thinking of getting into woodworking and as a guide to the essential elements of your tool armoury. However, it is not a long-term reference as there are many more specialist volumes on the individual elements which would offer greater support if you really get serious about woodworking.

Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Using Woodworking Tools by Lonnie Bird is available from www.thegmcgroup.com and other retailers online. ISBN 978-1-63186-085-0

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Behind the scenes of the new Triton catalogue

The Triton catalogue is the definitive reference document for our Precision Power Tools. But there is a difference from other competitive brands; we don’t use models or staged events to show the potential of our products. Our images feature people who look like real woodworkers. Because they are.

In the same way, in our blog posts we feature genuine craftsmen and women who are using our products as part of their daily life, either professionally or for pleasure. One of these people is a young man called Jamie Smith from Dorset, England. After an apprenticeship, Jamie set out on his own to create bespoke furniture for customers.

This short film gives you an insight into one of the many faces behind the scenes of the Triton Catalogue, and what motivates a young person to get into woodwork and carpentry as a career.

To see more of Jamie’s work check out his website www.jsmithwoodwork.co.uk If you would like to get hold of a copy of our latest catalogue you can visit your local stockist or view and download a copy from our home page www.tritontools.com

Friday, 28 August 2015

Craft Life with Altitude; Meeting the Man Who Makes Wooden Skis in Chamonix

For many of our Masters of Wood, making a living from working with timber means a lot more than simply turning out one-off products for a commission. As Peter Steltzner from Rabbit on the Roof in Chamonix France puts it: “When you put your heart and soul into a product made with your hands, people can feel it.”

Peter’s workshop lies in the shadow of Mont Blanc in the French Alps, a dream setting for making uniquely designed skis from hand-selected timbers. In this film Peter explains his journey from California to the Alps to create a performance product that is as highly desirable for its ride as its unique look. If you are a skier, this is the one of a kind style you want to be holding in the lift queue, enjoying the admiring glances of your fellow skiers. If you are a woodworker, this is the story of searching for the deep understanding of your craft many of us strive for. “Like surfing, looking for the perfect wave, the next one is always going to be the best, enhancing the pleasure by making by hand, its where the real profit comes from,” says Peter.

In a few weeks we will be posting an additional film from this visit: a master-class, step-by-step guide to building the wooden free-ride ski with Peter in his workshop.

If you would like to see more of Peter’s work, check out his website at www.rabbitontheroof.net.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Best of the Woodworking Web - 'Manny'

Our video editor, Craig, came across this video from Upland Film Co. when looking for inspiration for his next video, and we felt it was perfect for the next installment in our 'Best of the Woodworking Web' series.

Manny got into woodworking after repairing a friend's broken guitar and becoming fascinated with the craftsmanship that went into making a guitar. Now 89, he still works out in his shed every day and is constantly learning new techniques along the way.

Manny from Upland Film Co. on Vimeo.