Juan Hovey, Santa Maria, CA, US

After a lifetime in journalism, including four years writing a business-page column about finance and insurance for the LATimes, I retired, more or less, in 2010 and moved with my wife, Elise Cassel, from Los Angeles to Santa Maria, about an hour north of Santa Barbara.

I do some ghost writing and editing for a handful of clients but spend most of my time in my garage/shop - making furniture for our new house, at first, and since January, 2013, making infill hand planes.

Woodworking is all about seeing, to my mind. Writing is all about hearing, on the other hand. When I write, I don't see the words I write. I hear them. When I make something out of wood, I see what I make. This enthralls me, because it's such a new experience; indeed, it's a new way of thinking about the world, and it enriches everything I understand about the place. Fun, fun.

Gender: Male

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Black (and very green) locust workbench

The wood here is black locust, cut from a single tree - and very green when I got it into my garage shop and started working it several weeks back.   In fact, to quote Noel Coward (or was it Cole...

Another new infill

Here's another new infill hand plane. This one has the dimensions of a Stanley 5.25, more or less - length 12 inches, width 2 3/8 inches. The iron is 1 3/4 inches wide, pitched at 45 degrees. The...

New infill hand planes

    I've been playing around with new designs for my infill planes, along with new production methods, and thought it might be time to post some photos.   Counting from the left, the first and...

Two infill hand planes

    I've just finished work on two new dovetailed infill hand planes, the first having the dimensions of a Stanley No. 4.5, more or less, the second those a Stanley No. 3.   The infill on the 45...

New infill plane by Juan Vergara

Here's my latest infill plane, now up on e-Bay. The design of the plane remains that of my last, but the infill, starting with the closed tote, differs reflecting input from George Wilson, Derek...

New infill hand plane

Here's my latest infill plane, finished New Year's Eve after about a month of work - double-dovetailed 0-1 tool steel surrounding an infill of black acacia with an oil finish hand-rubbed to a...

Infill plane made from scratch!

To test my skills, I started making infill planes earlier this year. This is my tenth and the one I like the most - also one of only two that didn't end up on my pile marked "This Is How You Don't Do...

Recent comments

Re: Workbench - Monster, bombproof, not so (well kind of)

Wow. Puts my own bench to shame.

Re: New infill plane by Juan Vergara

Bidding starts at $1K.

Re: Infill plane made from scratch!

RHLong - Actually, I think 45 degrees isn't the best angle. I've just finished another hand plane pitched at 50 degrees (see new posting on Reader's Gallery) and it cuts a fine shaving on tough wood.

Re: UPDATE: Dovetail Techniques with Stephen Hammer

I know one thing for sure whenever I look at a hand-cut dovetail: The woodworker's either really good at this stuff or, like me, still learning.

Re: We're Giving Away Grooving Planes!

You think YOU'RE surprised that these things work!

Re: bookcase cabinet

No contest - this one's the best.

Re: UPDATE: Unlocking the Secrets of Traditional Design

JYA, the journeyman requires the apprentice to copy what the journeyman does over and over again because it teaches the apprentice patience - a virtue usually lacking among apprentices - and because it is the best way to pass the journeyman's wisdom on to the next generation. As for the apprentice, he soon learns that he can have no better place to learn craft than at the side of a master. And indeed, for the apprentice, the first step toward originality is to copy the work of a master- and to hear the master say: No! No! You must do it this way, my way! For it is only if we understand the wisdom of the master that we can come to have a little wisdom of our own; indeed, if we are to become masters at all, it can be only because we possess so intimate a knowledge of that wisdom as to be able to re-create the work that sprang from it. In this way also do we find it possible to hear the conversation of the masters who went before us - I mean the "conversation" that we hear in their works. I am at age 64 a mere apprentice. God grant me time to become a journeyman.

Re: Can Fine Woodworking and art furniture coexist?

It takes a mere glance at Mr. Loeser's work to understand what makes FWW so valuable. Those who make furniture for the real world tend to think of the practical, the useful; we see a bed as something to be slept in, a chair as something to sit on, and so on. What useful purpose did Mr. Loeser have in mind in creating that boat thingy? None, certainly. He wanted to do art, and the bad news is that his art seems actually to mock the idea of the useful. We who read FWW and make things like boxes and chests of drawers don't think much of art as Mr. Loeser seems to define it. We think of the everyday, and we strive to make things useful in everyday life - and to make them with as much craft as we can muster. And therein lies the value of FWW: It focuses on the making of useful things, not artsy thingys that come at you with the stench of mockery. Keep on keeping on, FWW!

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