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Asheville, NC, US
Furniture designer/maker trained in traditional Apprenticeship program. Specialties include inlay, veneer and marquetry work.
The discussion about hide glue is mostly correct however I'd like to make a comment to help with Hide glue's image! There are two types of hide glue, the first and best for furniture or instrument work is marketed as ground hide glue and is actually ground into small particles and includes only protein from the animal's hide. This type of hide glue has virtually no "road kill" odor and is really almost odorless if kept at or near 140 degrees. It is available in a wide range of strengths and even the lower strengths are as strong as the wood it is applied to if handled properly. As you mentioned there is furniture made several hundred years ago that is every bit as solid today as it was the day it was made.
The second type of hide glue is marketed as pearl hide glue and looks like little brown pearls before it is dissolved into water. Pearl hide glue is made from animal protein and includes protein from the hide, organs and bone of the animal and it stinks! It is in my experience not as clear as ground hide glue thus less useful for fine furniture or instrument making. It may be every bit as strong as ground hide glue but it smells so bad I don't use it at all!
Another thing to know about hide glue, dogs love the smell of either one! Our Golden Retrievers show up in the shop the minute the glue pot is plugged in! They walk around with their noses up in the air sniffing and licking at the air so make sure you are working on a surface above nose level or you run the risk of having your fuzzy friends lick the glue off as fast as you apply it! It won't hurt them as it is non-toxic, hide glue is actually used to put the shiny finish on those rawhide chew toys so don't worry about them licking up a drip here and there!
Keep up the great work guys!
I'd just like to let you boys know that the girls out here with sawdust under their fingernails enjoy your show too!
Asa, you rock! Having the courage to not only see your own needs but to also act on them is awesome. Today way too many people are pigeon-holed into roles they don't enjoy but stick with them because the money is better or their peers think the only way to be happy is to have more, or any of the silly reasons we all fall into those ruts! It is a rare person who will take the step to be happy first. You are to be aplauded!
I am very excited to see what effect this change will have on the magazine and the Podcast which by the way is great even to us seasoned girl pros!
You going to be okay if a girl answers this mystery for you? Corregated soles on hand planes were a marketing scheme and nothing more! The corregated sole was promoted as being easier to push across the surface of the wood because the amount of metal was reduced and they may have felt more like the wooden bodied planes they were replacing! That's it, nothing more to it! Go and research old hand plane advertising or talk with Chris Schwarz if you'd like to know more.
You have to remember that the norm for hundreds of years was the wooden hand plane. Along come guys like Stanley who bring along their new-fangled iron bodied planes, well you guys know how it works, the new guy is criticized and attempts to minimize the value or working capabilities of his new planes ran wild, just like they do today when somebody shows up with a back saw that doesn't have a brass back (Veritas)! Then the new guy starts to get a foot hold and the naysayers have less and less to claim so they started belly aching about how metal planes were harder to push across a board! While there can be some truth to that it's nothing a bit of candlwax couldn't improve. However, the iron body plane manufacturers simply ground corregations into the plane sole or in some cases cast designs or their names into the soles of their planes! Obviously metal planes won the day and if corregated bases really did actually make a difference I am certain our friends at Veritas and Lie-Neilsen would be grinding the soles of their planes right now!
Cheers from the Rocky Mountains!
Congratulations Mr. Kenney! I am amazed that so many folks can get this worked up over a couple hundred words in an online magazine article! Looking at the times some of these posts were sent, it would seem that you have some die-hard fans who will spend time with their computer before even saying good morning to the other folks living in their homes!
I stand in awe of your ability to get so many folks all worked up and completely miss the whole point of the article. I think you asked a wonderful set of 4 questions and I think Mr. Lowe had some fun furthering his belief. Seems like way back in college journalism classes I remember being told that a great story gets folks upset and thinking! I think the key word was "thinking" and I am hoping that all the folks who have taken such extreme exception to Mr. Lowe's comment will soon get over it and begin thinking! They just might learn a thing or two!
Again, great job Mr. Kenney, this old girl appreciates your story and Mr. Lowe's comment. Now don't any of you guys come around my shop being critical of my favorite joinery hammer! When I got my divorce and husband #1 Jake, was packing up "his" tools along with several of mine I stole his claw hammer to get even, named it Jake, broke the claws off and have enjoyed hitting things with Jake for many years! He always seemed to enjoy hitting me so why not huh? Hubby number 2 has from time to time told me that I really should be using a dead-blow hammer when tapping and coaxing joints together. I always tell him, no honey "I'm having too much fun banging Jake's head on things.
Who knows maybe Mr. Lowe had a tough time with a mean spirited, no good, low down, now ex-spouse who stole his block plane when he moved out and he's still angry over her taking it!
So guys, it really is more fun to make things than to tear them up! Go out to your shop, design something beautiful using or not using any old tool you might like in any way you think is right and post the pictures in the gallery area here and show us how good you really are, block plan or no!
Oh and Jake if you're reading this thanks dear, I really do enjoy hitting things with your hammer even after all these years there really is some satisfaction in it!
I've been a furniture designer and maker for 30 years and have been weighing in on this very debate nearly all that time. Here's my take.
If one aspires to buiild fine furniture, one must have fine hand tool skills as even today with CNC equipment that will reproduce almost anything you can throw at them there are still surfaces that cannot be achieved through sanding and there are joints that do indeed require the use of handsaws and chisels to complete. Therefore to those who would argue that hand tools are a must, you are correct!
Having said that, I make my living building furniture for wealthy clients. They enjoy knowing that what I build for them is "hand made" but they also would like to receive their new furniture on a timely basis. So power tools save time and I use them as well.
Can any of you imagine John or Thomas Seymour or Duncan Phyfe resawing boards and making raised panels with framesaws and handplanes if there were big heavy bandsaws and shapers sitting in their shops? Do you really think they'd be using solid wood if plywood were available? Me either, so let's all agree to the fact that each of us has a different reason for working wood. For some, the pleasure of working up a sweat and working with their hands to build beautiful pieces with no concern over how long it may take is the tonic needed to relax after a hard day at work doing things our ancesters could never imagine. For others who make a living working wood, the use of power tools AND hand tools allow us to produce enough each year to support our families just as the Seymour's and Phyfe's of history aspired to do.
Enjoy your tools!
No kidding! As a female just out of college designer/maker all the boys had a better way to do anything I was trying to do! Now 30 years later I have learned that most of the boys were trying to impress me sort of like when they all stand around the open hood of a car staring at the motor! None of them really know much about it but boy is it fun to hang out and look like it.
So my solution has been to adopt this strategy; If my time allows I will allow the would be helper to demonstrate his or her technique because there is always something to be learned. If I honestly can say that I have learned somthing I will say so, if not then my montra is "In my opinion based upon my personal experience my approach works better for me." No hurt feelings no time wasted and I'm back to work.
If I don't have the time I will simply say that sometime I will stop by their shop and they can show me. Might be a day might be years but I can visit if I wish or not!
So I said to myself, 56 posts and not a girl in sight! No more my friends, now there's a gal in the battle for the DVD's :-)
Well the controversey rages and I really can add nothing that has not already been said multiple times. However, as a maker who does buy tools for professional use I will say that I own and use hand planes daily, from Stanley's that I've refurbished to both LV and LN.
Here's my take. My clients are Americans and Canadians they support me and I like to think I support them. I'm happy to say that when I share my views with my clients they are often impressed that things like LN planes are made here in the US. So while I am not against imports I can honestly say that in this case my using tools made here does have a positive impact on my business.
Also for those of you squawking about the prices of a good plane consider this, a hundred years ago a quality hand plane sold for about a month's wage. So if we assume the wage was around 10.00 a month and we saw inflation over the past 100 years at 3% that 10.00 hand plane in 1909 would cost about $200 in 2009. Far less than a month's wage!
Let's all get back to work!
Fun design! It'd be cool to see one done with the wood species reversed. Don't know if you sell your work or not but it might make a nice salable gallery piece.
Period Furniture comment:
I'd like to see a series of articles over perhaps a year that might start with early european furniture and then progress forward with the significant style changes over time. The articles could high light the development of each style and could include photography of some of the significant details and changes in construction methods from each period. For example the veneer work from the Federal period. I don't really want a how-to series rather a study of the progression of the development of the styles.
An equally interesting idea would be to develop a series of articles showcasing the tools used to make some of these pieces. I would think that many of your readers might find learning how to set up and use a stanley 55 or some of the vast array of other tools replaced by modern powwer tools interesting.
my 2 cents worth,
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