J. Norman Reid

Jul 182017
 

I have a lot of interests, only some of them related to woodworking, so my reading plans for the summer are somewhat diverse. But let’s start with woodworking.

First on my list is David Esterly’s The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making. Having read this one previously, I know it to be a lyrical exploration of the craft of fine carving to replace a Grinling Gibbons carving burned in a Hampton Court fire. I am relishing the chance to revisit this favorite of mine. I also plan to read Aldren Watson’s classic Hand Tools, as much for his finely-executed drawings as for the many ideas contained therein. I recently bought the Stanley Tools Catalogue No. 34 from Lost Art Press and plan to spend some time perusing Stanley’s classic offerings. Finally, I have a copy of Joshua Vogel’s The Artful Wooden Spoon that is another fine example of the craft of making things of utility and beauty.

I’ve developed a passion for black & white photography and have set a goal for myself to master fine art B&W printing. I have a stack of books on this subject, the principal of which are Harold Davis’s Monochromatic HDR Photography, Michael Freeman’s The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography, and George DeWolfe’s B&W Printing. There are others in my library, but I’ll commence with these.

I’ve also set myself on a course to better understand the roots of creativity and the creative life. I’m starting with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s classic Creativity, a study of notably creative people and the factors that characterize their lives. I’ll follow this with historian Daniel Boorstin’s The Creators, which recounts the lives of historically important creators. I’ve already begun Michael J. Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, though because it is replete with exercises that will take me time to work through, I have no expectation of completing it this summer.

As if this weren’t fun enough, I’ll listen to audio books while working in the woodshop—my usual practice. Here my tastes run the gamut from Greek and Roman philosophy to military history and the latest Michael Connelly mystery. It should be an informative and entertaining summer of reading.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

May 182017
 

I’m building a pencil post bed for our master bedroom. The four posts, cut from curly maple, were chamfered to a tapered octagonal shape, first on the table saw and then with a 45° chamfer bit using a jig that allowed me to use a handheld router. The router created a nice rounded transition at the point where the chamfers meet the square bottoms of the posts. That would have looked fine as it was, but I decided to add a traditional bit of decorative detail in the form of lamb’s tongues. Lamb’s tongues are, in effect, stops at the end of a chamfer, followed by an ogee shape.

Completed lamb’s tongues

My bed posts are 2-3/4 X 2-3/4″ at the bottom, tapering to 1-1/2″ wide at the top. At the transition point, the chamfers are 7/8″ wide.

The transition left by the chamfer bit

I made a wooden template in the shape of an ogee based on 7/8″ intersecting arcs.

The template

I drew lines marking the location of the stops at the end of the transitions and the baselines that extended out from the edge of the chamfers, then marked the shape of the lamb’s tongue on both sides of the leg.

Marked up leg ready to cut

I found that some adaptation was needed from one chamfer to another, since the width of the chamfers sometimes varied slightly.

Once marked, I made a vertical saw cut at the stop line with a Veritas 14 ppi crosscut saw, being careful not to overcut the baselines. Then, using a Shenandoah Tool Works 1 lb. mallet and a sharp 3/4″ bench chisel, I cut away the waste between the chamfer and the stop with the chisel bevel down.

Chopping the waste from the chamfer

I smoothed the chamfer up to the stop with the chisel held flat and bevel up and followed this with a Lie-Nielsen chisel plane and a card scraper to finish the surface. The goal is to get a sharply-defined stop at the edge of the ogee.

I then cut the ogees carefully by wasting away most of the wood with the mallet and chisel, again being careful not to overcut the line.

Chopping the waste from the lamb’s tongue

I followed this with a #9 and #13 Auriou rasp, then sanded the surface to 180 grit to eliminate any marks from the rasps. The result: a nice traditional detail to dress up my bed posts.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Dec 272016
 

OK, so I over-pledged on the number of projects I would build in 2016. I mean, somehow I thought I’d be able to complete at least a Baker’s Dozen before the year was out. Well, things just didn’t work out as I planned. Why not, you may well ask? Frankly, a lot of things intervened, including ankle surgery that kept me out of the shop for the first quarter and bronchitis that laid me up for another month. Then there were three trips that took up another month. And finishing up my book, Choosing and Using Handplanes, took even more time. So at least I have some excuses.

What I did accomplish was significant, however. I made a major reorganization of my shop, creating a hand tool area and adding a drum sander and a better drill press. I made a good start on a Greene & Greene-inspired pantry shelf built with quartersawn sapele. I took Scott Meek’s weeklong handplane class and built three wooden handplanes. I made a set of kitchen knives using Ron Hock blades. I turned a lot of birdcage awl handles for my business, Shenandoah Tool Works, including the padauk awls sold exclusively at Highland Woodworking. And I began installation of a leg vise using Benchcrafted’s crisscross assembly and Lake Erie’s wooden screw. So, while I fell short of everything I’d hoped to accomplish, I still did fairly well.

While I know better than to load up my agenda with too many things this time, here is what I plan for 2017:

 Finish the Greene & Greene pantry shelf

 Finish installing the leg vise

 Make some more wooden planes

 Turn some bowls and hollow forms

 Build some natural edge tables

 Build a Queen Anne dressing table

 Make some small tables based on patterns in Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun

 Build a four-poster bed

Even with this shortened list, I think this is a bold agenda. I’ll need to be diligent if I’m to get through it, or most of it. But then, if I don’t have ambitious goals, where would be the challenge?


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Nov 182016
 

Well, it’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to what I’d like to receive this holiday season. Holding my work has gotten to the top of my list. I’ve finally decided to install a leg vise on my workbench. I’m going to be hand cutting stopped tapered sliding dovetails and I need a way to hold my workpieces firmly in a vertical position. Frankly, I thought I could get away without this until I used one in Scott Meek’s handplane class. Now I can see why no shop, at least one that uses hand tools for more than planing, should be without one. It can bring the wood up to eye level and make it much easier to work.

I’ve settled on Benchcrafted’s retro style crisscross assembly, since my installation will be on an existing bench. I’m pairing that with the Lake Erie wooden screw. Why? I know the Benchcrafted wheels work wonderfully, but something about the wooden screw just calls out to me. Call me traditional.

I’ve got up a short list of stocking stuffers as well. I’d like to give the Old Brown Hide Glue a try; I’ve heard good things about it. I need some more blades for my Knew Concepts fret saw. And I’d like a Hock paring knife blade kit to upgrade the collection in my kitchen.

Now, with a list this short, is that too much to hope for?


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes. He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Aug 112016
 

Since the beginning of recorded time, or so it seems to me, my table saw fence has been the repository of assorted things.  Pencils, chalk, Allen wrenches and other paraphernalia have collected there along with wood chips and dust that could not be swept away for fear of losing some small thing that might have later importance.  So what should I do about it?  Live with it I could no longer abide.  I needed a different solution.

Table saw boxSomewhere I saw an idea that caught my attention: a small box attached to the off side of the table saw fence that could hold those things I need to keep nearby.  As I thought about it, my gaze fell upon a partly completed walnut box that didn’t make the cut as a gift box, but would make a great storage box.  It needed only a bottom to make it complete.  I grabbed a scrap of thin walnut, cut it to size, rabbeted the bottom so it would fit the box and glued it into place.  Reaching into my waste box, I found a chunk of walnut to use for a hook and handle.  I cut a notch in the chunk to fit the lip of the table saw fence, then shaped it on the band saw and sanded it smooth on the belt sander.  Because it was white wood from a larger walnut piece, I stained it dark to more closely match the box.  Then I glued it to the box so the hook would engage the table saw fence lip.

The resulting box is more functional than it is beautiful, but it does its job perfectly.  And, it had the added benefit of using up things that had no other purpose!  Now that is recycling at its best.

Jun 152016
 

I am fascinated by the potential of hand tools, especially handplanes, for crafting fine work.  My high interest in hand tools is reflected in my summer woodworking reading list.

Paul Sellers’ Essential Woodworking Hand Tools is a thick and beautifully-presented compilation of information about all manner of hand tools.  I’ll start with this book for background on the full range of hand tools for the woodshop, their selection, preparation and use.

My interest in handplanes has led me to using wooden planes more and more and I’ve decided to build some of my own planes this year.  David Finck’s Making and Mastering Wood Planes details the construction of Krenov-style laminated planes and I look forward to studying that book and the companion two-DVD set.  I’ll also read John Whelan’s Making Traditional Wooden Planes, which describes how to make other styles and types of wooden planes.

John Wilson’s Making Wood Tools falls into a similar grouping and from this book I’ll learn about other types of wooden hand tools I can build for my own shop.

Finally, after all this reading about making tools I plan to read a couple of books about using them to create furniture: Tom Fidgen’s Unplugged Workshop and Simon James’ Working Wood 3.

I can hardly wait until I get to that cabin in the Maine woods.  I’m all stocked up and ready for lots of fun reading about hand tools and planning to build and use them.

Find more great Woodworking Books and Plans at the Highland Woodworking website.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and five cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants.  He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes: All You Need to Know to Get Started Planing by Hand.  He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.

Jun 022016
 

D810B-171

A common feature in colonial American houses and taverns was the pipe box.  A tall slender box, often featuring ornamentation on its top edges and sometimes incorporating a drawer for matches and sundries, it could hold a half dozen or so long-stemmed clay pipes ready for use.  I really like the looks of these pipe boxes and though I won’t use them for pipes, decided to make one for my home, and it looked to be a fun woodworking project.

If you check on Pinterest, you’ll find them in a variety of shapes and finishes.  Some were simple in design, others quite ornate.  Most older ones were painted.  I chose to make a fishtail design, a fairly common pattern with moderate ornamentation, that I obtained from Charles Neil’s Mastering Woodworking web site.

I began by resawing some curly maple boards to 1/4” thickness.  Then I made 1/8” plywood templates for the top and side pattern.  I traced the patterns onto the maple and cut out the top edges of the box on the scroll saw.  You could use a jig saw, turning saw or fret saw for this if you don’t have a scroll saw.  I then trace-coated the maple with General Finishes Medium Brown dye, sanded it to 120 grit, and repeated this trace coating process before sanding to 180 grit.  I sanded the end grain edges to 600 grit, smoothing the curves cut by the scroll saw as I did.

I decided to make my box without a drawer at the bottom.  I cut the parts to final length and assembled them with glue and pin nails.  Once the glue was dry, I applied a mixture of 3 parts General Finishes Medium Brown to 1 part Orange water-based dye.  When dry, I sprayed the piece with three coats of matte lacquer finish.  If you prefer, you could use a less expensive wood such as poplar and coat it with Milk Paint for an authentic period look.

Since we don’t smoke, we’ll use the box to display dried flowers.  It would make a nice gift or holiday project.  And, I’m told that these boxes can make good sellers in the craft marketplace.


Norm Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and five cats who think they are cabinetmaker’s assistants.  He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes: All You Need to Know to Get Started Planing by Hand.  He can be contacted at nreid@fcc.net.