Lakewood, CA, US
Slowlearner has an excellent point. My current bench isn't even finished but I would happily drop the plans to install Lee Valley's twin screw if this one pans out. It looks really slick and installing bench dog holes in the front would be child's play.
Though I have yet to use the stuff personally, I know enough about to be cautious. First, the stuff is incredibly high in silicates. That's why it takes a cutting edge and can be used in place of flint or obsidian in a paleolithic culture. Those who served in the infantry in Viet Nam will corroborate me.
Second, there are enough varieties of timber bamboo that are temperate in their growth habits that importing it from Asia is unnecessary. Here in California we have grown both [i]oldhamii[/i] and [i]bambusoides[/i] for over a hundred years. Both species are hardy to below freezing.
Third. Personally, I would split before I tried to saw. The outer skin is so hard that even carbide tools will get eaten before you know it.
Lastly, IMO, the stuff lends itself ideally to bentwood styles of chairs and tables. Making it into plywood seems an odd idea unless you specifically want flooring.
When I first started taking woodworking classes table saws terrified me. I swore my own shop would be designed around a big bandsaw and the table saw could go hang. I have finally gotten used to one and bought a Powermatic 2000 as soon as they were available. I still treat the thing with great respect. I am inclined to believe that most of the injuries are due to hurrying, especially when the woodworker is tired. In my own case, as soon as I start finding myself doing dumb little things, I close down the power and go read a book. Fatigue is much more the danger than the machine itself.
BTW, I love the riving knife.
Since I can't afford Lie Nielson tools anyway, I don't see that this is much in the way of news. Yes, they're lovely. At my level of skill, I can do just as well with any one of a number of first-rate but less costly manufacturers. It's a tool, for Chrissake, not a Matisse.
Is it a tool? Do Fine Woodworkers use tools? Some of us dote on our vintage chisels and planes, others on our state-of-the-art machinery. Some real eccentrics like both! :-D As George Nakashima so profoundly put it, it isn't a question of using either hand or machine tools but in choosing which tool best expresses what the woodworker wishes to make. You use the tool that is best suited for the job at hand. If it happens to be plugged into your laptop, no big deal.
LOL! You must not be very old. Bamboo bikes have been around since the days of the dear, departed Whole Earth Catalog. I certainly hope they become more common, though. Bamboo is wonderful stuff and the more of it I see in use, the better.
It seems to me that attempting to designate any particular style as "the" one to have is futile. Modernists tried that at the end of the Nineteenth Century and what resulted was an enormous outpouring of mindless trash. The Bauhaus about destroyed architecture in their attempt to provide good design to the masses through industrial output. Abstract expressionism is just the ticket for adorning the walls of corporate offices where no one will really look at it anyway and as for twelve-tonal music? Shudder! Furniture is different. It has to do something and do it comfortably. What the Scandinavian designers of the period between the wars came up with was a very humanized Modernism. Much of it is very comfortable, though not all. The living room chairs my in-laws owned were horrors to get out of. However, their dining room set with sideboard sits proudly in my daughter's home. But is it the way of the future?
When the millennium turned there was a lot of discussion in art magazines about what post-post-Modernism would look like. The consensus was that figurative and realistic art was the way of the 21st Century. Does this in any way apply to furniture? Who can tell? All I know is that if you make a chair that someone sits in and sighs happily in comfort, you've got a good design. It doesn't matter what it looks like anywhere near so much as what it feels like. To my mind, the furniture of the future will be ergonomic, above all. Life is too stressful for most of us to abide an uncomfortable piece of furniture.
Later this year I'm going to take out a couple of fruit trees in the back yard. They will sort of turn into mini-monster slabs. Fortunately, I'll have a couple of years air drying to figure out what to do with them.
Old tools are wonderful. If I had a barn to keep them in I could imagine a complete shop of pre-1950 machine tools, especially a big 30" bandsaw. Unfortunately, I work out of a double car garage that is already overly full of stuff. And since modern tools are much safer by design, I'll just happily look at everyone elses. :-D
A very timely posting. I'm going to practice making rocking chairs until I get it right. So, what to do with the practice pieces? Give them to friends, of course. But many of my friends live half way across the continent. I've been wondering how the heck you ship a rocking chair . . .
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