Wolodymyr Smishkewych, Limerick, Munster, IE
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Catching up with Toshio Odate

Considered to be the original ambassador of Japanese woodworking tools to the West, the master woodworker and sculptor shares tea, tool advice, and thoughts on the social responsibility of woodworkers.

Tanning beds accelerate aging for cherry, not just humans

Although overuse of tanning beds by people can lead to a skin cancer risk, they are great for helping to bring out that deep patina that usually only comes with age.

Bend a Solid Oak 2x6 on Edge? Yup!

How do you bend a 6 in. thick piece of solid white oak into a radius of just 30 in. along its axis? I mean, without having it splinter into a million pieces.

Praktrik-ally impossible furniture

Designed to puzzle: Bulgarian architect Petar Zaharinov's clever designs range from practical, Danish-style aesthetics to M.C. Escher-like complexity. Plus, they come packaged in their own self-contained shopping baggie. Check out these nifty tables--they might boggle your senses!

Baby planes

A look at an instrument maker's standby, and some ideas for using them in furniture making

Creative musings

While on tour, FW Associate Editor Vlad Smishkewych meets fellow woodworkers within the music scene, gets to see a few wonderful pieces, and ponders the meaning of life for woodworkers and musicians.

Laguna Goes Retail: Woodcraft, Rockler, and Laguna equal happy bedfellows

You can now buy Laguna machines from Rockler and Woodcraft. Laguna's agreement with Rockler is a first step in the retail direction for the company; Woodcraft also now carries Laguna bandsaws, and more U.S. retail presence is sure to follow for the tool manufacturer.

Bowl Turning Head-to-Head: Man vs. Man+Machine

Who can turn a better and faster bowl, a turner on a treadle or on an electric-powered lathe? The answer might surprise you.

Power surface planers for the Japanese tool lover in you

Love Japanese planes? Do you use power tools as well? Ditto for FW associate editor Vlad Smishkewych--a recent trip to the magazine archives and a quick jaunt on YouTube reminded him of some great, wacky tools that are still out there.

Singa me a Songa

Charlestonian musician and drum maker Adam Crowell designs great-looking and great-sounding wooden tongue drums. Check out his videos here.

The long, winding road to Fine Woodworking

Fine Woodworking's newest associate editor talks about Spain, hurdy-gurdies, and his unlikely path to being a part of his favorite magazine.

Spanish woodworker shares finer points of side rabbet planes

From a tiny workshop tucked away in Toledo, Spain, woodworker Julio Alonso shares sharpening techniques and surveys the versatility of these little planes.

Recent comments

Re: Power surface planers for the Japanese tool lover in you

Hmmm, I've now just seen that Japan Woodworker have a bonito-shaving plane for sale, for just $65USD!



Re: What hand tools can't you live without?

Hi Mike! Greetings from Ireland. From my days back at the violin shop, I can say that a handful of tools see constant use in any project, whether furniture- or lutherie-related. A few are covered above or pictured in your tool chest already: a low-angle block plane with adjustable throat, a rotary marking gauge, compass dividers (well-sharpened points are a must), and a sharp, double-beveled marking knife. A few oddments that make the daily-use list are a clear plastic ruler (it's used for quilting, and can be had in metric or Imperial). These are great for measuring in places where you wouldn't want to risk damaging a surface, or need to see what's beneath the ruler. They have an accurate, handy grid along their entire width, and they're cheap to replace. A half-dozen Hatagane (small Japanese bar clamps) in their larger sizes are always there as are two medium-small quick grip clamps. A saw I always reach for is my "woodpecker-tooth" Dozuki saw--it is small, the blade is easy to replace, and the little tooth up front can start a cut mid-panel or even double as a marking knife. It might be seen as a specialty tool but if it's the only Japanese tool you own, it's a fine choice. (I see you've got a dozuki in there already!) If I bypass the Japanese route, I head for a small backsaw tuned à la Mario Rodriguez (http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/soup-up-a-dovetail-saw.aspx). My final desert-island tool is a bench hook. MIne is long enough to hook over front or back of my bench so I can use it with my Western or Japanese saws and the stop is shorter than the hook's width to allow for either of East/West sawing positions. However, the hook is small enough to fit into my tool chest. -Vlad

Re: Homemade Slot Mortiser Has all the Right Moves

Ed, thanks for posting this. I too was originally hooked on FW from reading all those "bit too esoteric" articles in the back issues and collected-article books so I'm really happy we as editors have the space for putting these things here. This machine is fabulous, and in times like these when not everyone can pony up the coin for a big, thousand-dollar machine, this machine is quite impressive and very useful. Thanks for sharing this with us all, and Matthias, excellent work!

Re: Spanish woodworker shares finer points of side rabbet planes

Rotceh, gracias de nuevo por tu ultimo comentario (ya de diciembre!), que como no me dan siempre noticias de algun comentario nuevo, no te lo pude agradecer.
Es muy buen refran el que compartes: efectivamente debe ser asi, el jinete es el que tiene que ser cultivado para merecer el caballo (pero debe aprender con un animal decente). Aplicandolo a la carpinteria, es penoso ver cuando que un novato tenga en manos un cepillo que le ha costado dos billetes gordos, pero ni lo sabe usar, ni afilar, ni na'.

La pena que todos que nos dedicamos o aficionamos a la artesania y a los demas oficios artisticos, es que en general la sociedad valora algo menos (por no decir bastante menos) a los que hacen con las manos (pero a ver quien va a vivir sin el trabajo que haceis los artesanos y trabajadores, verdad?).

Creo que en Fine Woodworking se aprecia a todo tipo a carpinetero, en particular a los que usan herramienetas electricas para la mayoria de su trabajo, pero siempre hay un rincon especial para las herramientas manuales. No es mala combinacion: a los que somos algo timidos con las maquinas electricas nos da valor para parender tecnicas nuevas y el uso correcto y seguro de la maquinaria; a los que tienen menos experiencia con herramientas manuales (como suele ocurrir en EEUU, donde se compra mas facilmente y mas barata una sierra de mesa que una sierra de mano de semejante calidad) les abre el mundo de las posibilidades y tecnicas con las herramientas manuales y su uso correcto.

I, des que jo no parla més que una mica de català, vaig a afegir la meva pròpia llengua ancestral: gallec! Des que, per cert, el meu col.lega Ed Pirnik també té avantpassats!
Moitos saudos a todos, esperando que n'algun futuro prosimo podamos troucar en direito nosas ideas e comparti-lo noso amor po-lo traballo coa madeira.

un saludo cordial,

Re: Tanning beds accelerate aging for cherry, not just humans

It's great that there are so many variants and apparent options for aging cherry. Sounds like they are of two variants by the looks of this thread: the tanning oil (tung) version, and then the photo-developer version (using some sort of alkali such as lye, potassium bichromate, etc). My youngest brother, a filmmaker and photographer, is currently experimenting with alternative developing techniques and has use everything from new dilutions of traditional developers, to coffee, even hair dye! Maybe aging wood--like developing film--will be a better, more artistic, purpose for some of the toxic stuff we encounter in our daily lives.
Keep experimenting! And let us know how it goes.

Re: Bend a Solid Oak 2x6 on Edge? Yup!

Thanks, Chris, for the clarifications & input! Always good to hear from guy in charge. A question from me: does the autoclaving--similar I suppose to autoclaving for medial applications?--break down the cellular wall structure? And is this why it's hard to plane compressed wood?

Re: Aron Kodesh

Very nice work. The style evokes the chip carving found in much of Eastern Europe around the Poland-Ukraine border, where a large percentage of the US and Canadian Jewish population hails from. A fitting touch!

Re: Bending Dovetails

Great piece and great technique, John!

Re: Bend a Solid Oak 2x6 on Edge? Yup!

@lwj2, actually, it is wood that has been compressed using a special technology. The wood is wet when compressed, and bendable after the compression process. It gets "Saran wrapped" after compression to retain the moisture, and then you unseal it to bend. It sets into shape as it dries. Chris Mroz uses a machine made in Denmark to compress his wood. See viking099's post below for more information on compressed wood. That's exactly right--no chemicals, but try not to get it wet, as that will make the wood try to regain its unbent shape. However, you can use finishes, PVA glues (Titebond 2 apparently being most recommended), thicker viscosity CAs, and avoid PU glues (e.g. Gorilla).

Re: Seen at Colonial Williamsburg: Japanese tools force a new stance on woodworking

Great post, Matt. I'll definitely be interested in knowing what Andrew can recommend regarding tuning up my wide (45mm) smoothing kanna. I also have a lower-end but reliable smaller smoothing plane--I think it could be a potential gem, as it is a real workhorse, but I'd love to know how to get more out of it.

Re: Baby planes

Thanks for the comments and compliments. Actually, there are some great ways to get into instrument making: apprenticing is not at all an esoteric thing, and by simply Googling "violin making apprentice" or "violin making course" you can find a wealth of classes in the US and Canada. There are other courses, aimed towards guitarbuilding (by far the most plentiful) and also towards historical instruments (these programs are easier to find in Europe these days).

If you want to get reading on the topic, try some of the following:

GUITARMAKING: Tradition and Technology
A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar
by William R. Cumpiano and Jonathan D. Natelson

Classical Guitar Construction
Sloane, Irving
(you can still find used copies on internet)

any Violin Making Book by Edward Heron-Allen, Juliet Barker, Bruce Ossman, or Henry A. Strobel.

The Sloane is a great book because it will help you assemble the tools you need without any huge investment in bizarre stuff--but you can have the chance to make or buy a small plane or two like these if you wish!
Good luck!

Re: Power surface planers for the Japanese tool lover in you

Thanks, Mattmcp, for the clarification of the machine's ID. Indeed, the surfacer which was shown in that FW issue from 1980 was none other than Marunaka's "Royal Sunday Planer." Although it sounds a bit like a deluxe ice cream cone, it appeared to be the portable bench version of these larger, shop-based machines. Great stuff, though I am sure they require the proper care and feeding.

Also, thanks for KJP's info--I also have some experience with another Canadian wood dealer, A&M, out of Ontario. Do you know them?

Re: Singa me a Songa

Julio, that's true--the only thing these probably have in common with the cajón is the 'caja' part...@awillima, thanks for the direct feedback. I hope to try one myself at some point.

Re: Singa me a Songa

Indeed, they are quite impressive. I'm looking forward to meeting the artist! Julio, don't you agree that it is a bit reminiscent of the cajón?

Re: The long, winding road to Fine Woodworking

Thanks for your comments. Musical instruments are indeed as wonderful to make as their construction is mysterious to behold. Lutherie, a term applied mostly to building string instruments, is something that is much easier to do when guided by a master builder. Having said that, I should note that a very considerable number of luthiers have been and are self-taught! One good way to enter the world of instrument building is to find a kit to start you off inexpensively. For the most recent kit I've seen, check Grizzly's page, where if you search for 'guitar' or even 'ukulele' you'll find several of their nicely-priced kits. Other places you can start include luthier suppliers such as Stewart Macdonald (stewmac.com) and Metropolitan Music (metmusic.com); they also have kits as well as wood, tools, and parts for guitars, violins, and more.

@YonedaD: I'll be happy to post them some time soon. When I do, I'll see if I can get a way to link them to photos in the Gallery.

Re: Spanish woodworker shares finer points of side rabbet planes

Gracias Rotceh (?adivino correctamente que te llamas Hector?)

Es interesante el tema de las herramientas de mano, puesto a que hay cierto merito de tener solo una cosa y que sea buena, a tener varias y que no duren. Los cepillos toscos, o los cinceles hechos por herraderos, pueden parecer bastos al lado de una Lie Nielsen--pero estaban hechas para perdurar. Por eso se siguen encontrando en los rastros y se pueden reanimar tan facilmente. Ademas--bien lo dices tu mismo--la mano que la guíaba, la sabía afilar bien, y ajustarla para que cortara tan finamente esas virutas. Las marcas que apasionan a nuestro amigo Julio, han tenido como proposito crear herramientas que puedan perdurar años y años, tal como el mencionado cincel o cepillo del tatarabuelo. Ademas, es bueno que mas y mas gente se esten apasionando por las herramientas hechas a mano--otra manera de crear herramientas que duren y den satisfaccion, ademas de hacer bien el trabajo y ahorrar tiempo por no estropearse. Una herramienta mala, pienso yo, es fuente de frustración y para los que se estén iniciando en el trabajo con la madera, pueden acabar llevandoles por el camino de la amargura.
Es verdad que los profesionales se mecanizan mas en estos ultimas decadas, por necesidad de producción mas rapida, etc. Pero mi blog se refería principalmente al afán de muchos novatos a comprar las herramientas mas baratas (y hombre, como está la economía hoy, no es que se les culpe), cuando quizas ahorrar para tener unas pocas herramientas algo mas decentes--o a mi preferir, que se las encuentren en el rastro o las hagan ellos mismos--puedan añadir algo de disfruto al tema. Tampoco quiero que la gente se haga elitista con el tema. Una buena mano puede hacer maravillas con unas pocas herramientas.

En cuanto a que se vieran mal a los profesionales españoles, no creo que los habladores nativos de inglés lo entendieran así; de todas formas he añadido un ligero cambio para que se entienda que me refiero a los mas principiantes del "hobby". El piropo que quise dar a los profesionales de la madera de mi patria--como sois tu, Julio, o mis amigos Alberto Cotado padre e hijo en Villaobispo, León (otros dos sabios de herramientas electricas tanto como de mano)--queda dado, porque os la mereceis. Otro saludo.

Re: A few words in favor of small tools

David, I love the German plane--I have a slightly larger one whose body shape is almost identical, but that is configured as a scrub plane. It's also from Pennsylvania! It was purchased from an Amish vendor in Indiana who had gotten it from a Pennsylvania Amish community. Great stuff!

Re: Spanish woodworker shares finer points of side rabbet planes

Estimado Rotceh,

Por supuesto, la historia de la ebanistería española es milenaria, incluso se extiende más allá de los mil quinientos últimos años. Desde el auge de la época románica y el periodo visigodo se encuentran muestras de un tallado increíblemente complejo, y de una construcción esmeradísima. La caja reliquiaria de Julio podríamos decir que es una continuación de este gremio tan importante--y en estos dias menos y menos premiado. Y era justamente a eso que me quería referir yo con este blog: no que los ebanistas españoles son unos brutos, si no que--por desgracia--el gremio y sus adherentes se han ido convirtiendo en un grupo cada vez más pequeño. Esto es algo que no es único en España; ocurre en EEUU, en Reino Unido, donde quiera. Mas y mas son los que por afición a la madera pero por falta de ser expuestos a herramientas de calidad y a sus correcta utilización, se dirigen al Carrefour para una sierra hecha en China porque solo les cuesta 2 Euros, pero que les estropea el trabajo y tienen que reemplazarla al poco rato. Sin embargo existen compañías de herramientas--y dentro de España, muchas y con historia --que aportan un nivel distinto al trabajo y que se compran una vez en la vida y hasta perduran como herencia. Sin embargo, el numero de ebanistas que utilizan principalmente las herramientas de mano es reducido, frente al gran numero que emplea para muchísimo de su trabajo la maquinaria, y que limita las herramientas de mano a pocas y de frecuentemente no la mejor calidad. Por eso mencioné al principio de mi blog que en estas últimas dos generaciones se han ido perdiendo estos bellos conocimientos y esta sabiduría que gente como tú y Julio intentáis mantener vivo. (Entiendo completamente si estas sutilezas idiomáticas se hayan perdido en la traducción, y pido disculpas por cualquier ofensa.) También espero que la difusión del trabajo con herramientas manuales tal como lo demuestra Julio en sus videos ayude a que mas y mas ebanistas españoles vuelvan a utilizar la gama de herramientas que se pueden emplear.
Como ebanistas españoles tenéis todo mi apoyo, como uno de los vuestros pero desde una revista que espero sigáis disfrutando. Espero tener el honor de conoceros a Julio y a ti en mi próxima vuelta a España, para que podamos juntos dar a conocer al mundo que la artesanía española en madera sigue viva y que poco a poco gracias a vuestro esfuerzo está volviendo a ser conocida como tal. Un cordial saludo.

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