Friday, July 27, 2012

Getting Started with Hollows and Rounds

The most difficult hurdle for a person that wants to start carving seems to be tool selection: "Where do I begin?" There are hundreds of combinations of sweeps and widths and gouge geometry and manufactures and etc. It's overwhelming to the woodworker who only wants to make a shell and does not know what to get in order to do so.

The good news regarding this dilemma is that, once started, the answers to 'gouge selection' are always self-evident. You just need to start. You will never read a thread on a woodworking forum asking "which gouges should I buy second?"


Over the course of the last 2 1/2 years I've been asked countless times "where do I begin with hollows and rounds?"

Since announcing the release of my upcoming book, Chris Schwarz and I have been asked this same question a few times. I wrote a blog post at Lost Art Press in an attempt to address this concern.

Like carving, getting started is the hardest part. (And I guess, like carving, knowing when to stop is the second.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Prequel

There are several ways to carve a ball and claw foot. Many remove the wood around the final form as they sculpt a block and excavate the ball from it. My way is much more calculated. It's very specific, stepped out, and would likely be easy to write about. At least it will be easier than trying to relate the artistic sculpting of wood to a person with minimal carving skill.

Like carving, there are a few ways to address the use of the planes that I make. You can, of course, start a round on square stock. It usually takes 2-3 attempted passes to realize that this doesn't work well.

You can start using rounds on chamfers and hollows on square corners as Graham Blackburn illustrated in Fine Woodworking years ago. I address this process in the book because there are times when I still use it. I, however, do not use this method extensively, certainly not exclusively (though many people do).

The third way to use these planes is to start a round on a rabbet and the hollow upon a chamfer. This is the method to which I subscribe and to which my book, "Mouldings in Practice", will build upon.

Using any of these methods you must treat the profile as something that either must be sculpted from the wood the same as a ball being held by a claw is to be relieved from a block or as I will teach. My book describes a very methodical set of steps for laying out simple coves and ovolos and translating that into very complex moulding profiles. I'm able to get very consistent and achievable results that rely very heavily upon the initial dimensions of the rabbets and chamfers, which are easy to make accurately. "Mouldings in Practice" will translate this method onto your bench and into your work.

If you are fully comfortable with laying out and executing the following two profiles then this book may not change your methods. 

These profiles are somewhat similar. They both have a convex profile sitting above a concave. They each have one fillet. One, however has a smooth transition while one is interrupted. On closer examination you will see that one of the convex portions (on the left) is 1/4 of a circle while the other is only 1/6th. The angle of the concave portion is also very different, despite being the same portion of a circle at the same location. 

By manipulating the rabbets and chamfers that the planes ride along the profiles have been changed. Much of the book details this simple manipulation in order to gain consistent and achievable results. "Mouldings in Practice" details this method.

If you fully understand the differences in laying out these two profiles above but have trouble translating the profiles to those below, then this book will help you too.

"Mouldings in Practice" will teach you how to look at any profile and copy it. 

My method for teaching the use of these planes that fascinate me is similar to the way I carve a ball and claw foot. It is very methodical and easily laid out in a series of specific steps. You will learn to relate these steps to all profiles. 

This book is a prequel to other sources that address these planes. It does not address the classical orders or design. "Mouldings in Practice" will guide you through the steps of dozens of different profiles for practice. It will teach you how to achieve a desired result, be it Greek, Roman or you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Mouldings In Practice" Now Available with Free Shipping

I am VERY excited.

Over the last few years I have often been asked for further direction regarding the process of using moulding planes that I describe and teach. A few years ago I started offering weekend workshops at a few various locations and pointed interested parties to those. These classes, of course, weren't enough because they're difficult to attend and, due to the fact that I'm the only instructor and need to supply all of the tools for everybody involved, small. 18 months ago I started to write what I thought would be a 10 page pamphlet I could give to those who asked.

A picture frame made by Joseph Cunningham at CVSW last weekend. He wrote about the class on his blog

I spent this weekend at Lie-Nielsen's Summer Open House in Warren, ME with several friends and scores of woodworkers. I was again afforded the opportunity to put my planes in the hands of several interested woodworkers. Once again I was asked for further direction, but I fortunately abandoned that pamphlet after a quick conversation in a pizza "parlor" in Saratoga, NY with Chris Schwarz.

This weekend was much different than any other in one grand respect. I'm happy to announce that Lost Art Press is now offering a book I wrote, "Mouldings in Practice," that details the entire process that I describe: from holding the planes to maintaining the edges, from a small cove to large crowns, from rabbets to snipes bills...the book is all inclusive.

Chris has written about the specifics of the book on his blog. "Mouldings in Practice" is more than 250 page with hundreds of color illustrations and tons of pictures. Preordering the book through Lost Art Press means you will receive free shipping.

The book will be carried by several different vendors: Lost Art Press, Lie-Nielsen, Tools for Working Wood, Lee Valley in Canada, and Classic Hand Tools in the UK.

Additionally, a digital download of E.J. Warne's "Furniture Mouldings" will be available to those who order through Lost Art Press. This book is the perfect supplement to mine (or mine to his). It is more than 100 plates/pages of full size moulding profiles including a range of pieces from 17th century chests to 19th century tall clocks. Each plate probably averages 8 profiles...we're talking hundreds of profiles for those who can't get to a museum. 

I now have a specific place to point those who are interested in the tools and the process. The book will give you a significant base or knowledge before we meet in the future.

Chris brought a printout of the book that I kept at my bench this weekend. At the very least the book gives me a reference so that you don't have to decipher the drawings on my sticking board and bench... and I'm excited about that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mary May's School of Traditional Woodcarving

I woke up this morning intending to put myself in full moulding plane mode for Lie-Nielsen's summer open house. I checked my email and received notice that Mary May is now offering online instruction and videos for carving. I'm thinking about my tea table again.

I met Mary in March at the NWA show in Saratoga. A quick perusal of the site indicates that this is right in my wheelhouse. I do, of course, wish the offering came out a month ago because she has a two part video that would have been a nice helping hand.

I've enthusiastically signed up and, while fighting a terrible internet connection in my hotel room, am now trying to squeeze in a couple videos before the kids wake.

This, combined with Chuck Bender's NoBSWW and the release Roy Underhill's Woodwright Shop on dvd, is very good news for me (and our often self-secluded and introverted community).

Now I need to get ready for two days of talking woodworking with a huge group of enthusiasts who have traveled to Warren, ME and Lie-Nielsen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lie-Nielsen Summer Open House

The wood is milled. The planes are packed. The company sign has been located. My family and I will be headed to the Lie-Nielsen Open House in about an hour.

If you have the opportunity to swing by Warren, ME on your way to the grocery store or back from Home Depot you should.

Chris Schwarz and Lost Art Press will be present with their good humor, great demos and various offerings. Included at his bench will be, I believe, a print out of my new book "Mouldings in Practice," which is at the printer. I think the opportunity to preorder the book is imminent. I will let him announce the specifics regarding dimensions, price, page numbers and special inclusions. I am excited.

Peter Follansbee will also be demonstrating. If you've never had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with him, take this one (or another). You will learn; you will be entertained. You may even get him to sign a copy of his book "Make a Joint Stool from a Tree," also published by Lost Art Press.

The list of other demonstrators and presenters is long. It is also quite different from last year.

The best part of the weekend is being able to use any of their tools (and others) at one of several benches that are set up. Use them by yourself or use them while receiving expert instruction. After that, go see how they are made. You'll be impressed.

Many woodworkers use the opportunity to compare bevel down planes to their bevel up counterparts. Hold a #4 vs. a #3, bronze vs. iron, 55 degrees vs. 50 vs. 45. It's awesome.

I have three plans: I'll have to talk myself out of getting the 10 1/4 for the 10th time. I'll be able to pick Chuck Bender's brain for free. Lobster Dinner.