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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Karl Holtey Maker of Fine Hand Planes

While looking for a set of drawings for a wooden infill shoulder plane (I want to build my own, after using a Stanley No.93 and then - when that one's mechanism disintegrated - a 100-year-old wooden model), I came across this website for Karl Holtey's hand-made hand planes. These are very fine looking, and by the looks of them, finely made, planes. ;-)

It struck me that while Karl's planes may cost over $3,000, people do buy them and in 100 years many of his planes will probably still be in use. Holtey planes will certainly achieve collectible status, if they aren't already. His trademark look is the dovetailed infill along the sole of the planes. I have seen finger-jointed soles on wooden planes before, but this dovetailed method is pretty wicked!

If you want to see some beautiful-looking planes from a true artist and craftsman, take a look at Karl's Website.

I didn't include pictures here of some of his planes with rectangular totes. As somebody who uses his hand planes a lot, I have to say I am not attracted to having sharp wooden angles in my palm for the duration of a session of flattening a big panel. Ouch!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Best Woodworking Clamps

Before I begin my review of the best woodworking clamps, IMHO, here's an old woodworker's joke:

Q: "how many clamps do you need in your shop?"

Coffee Table Type 1

I am designing a coffee table to be sold at a local furniture chain. The coffee table will be a production piece, so I decided to go through a series of prototypes before settling on a final design. The piece in these pictures is the first of these prototypes.

Prototyping is an important part of design, and woodworkers use many kinds of prototypes, often made of cardboard or plywood. I tend to work from either full-scale drawings or models made in Google's Sketchup software, taking the view that all one-off custom furniture is a prototype. 

In this case my prototypes are made from extra material I have lying around the shop, and the joinery, while "heirloom grade", is chosen for speed. The result is a "prototype" that's a one of a kind hand-made heirloom, something desirable to own, but priced within reach, less than $1,000.

This coffee table prototype is made from red oak and maple cutoffs. At first, I planned to stain the top. But the Red Oak scrap just looked too good. While the final piece will have mortise and tenon and lap joints, this prototype was built with laps and dowels. It is finished in my special mix of tung oil, urethane, and mineral spirits.

the design for this coffee table is obviously an interpretation of the modern furniture of the 1940s and 1950s.  It is a trestle design, though with the stretchers way up above the legs. The angled ends of the stretchers and table rails seemed an obvious design choice, and this gave the table an Asian feel. For that reason, I decided to give the top a long chamfer at either end. The chamfer gives this low table quite a bit of lightness and lift.