Our month long series of classes called The Hand Tool Shop are in full swing now. The first week we worked on tools and sharpening and we did some joinery work as we made a mortise and tenoned mallet. This is good work and you get to take home your own hand made tool. This week we are making a wood bodied hand plane and a small 3 legged stool. Our students are from all walks of life and of every skill level from brand new beginner to old hands at the machines. But hand tool work is different than cutting things up at the table saw. It is demanding in a way that is not difficult but it is challenging. It focuses your attention and attitude at the bench. You have to learn to use your body differently and learn to maximize your leverage and force. And continue to practice your sharpening. The feedback from the tools and wood is dramatic and we’re having good fun. On to the milking stools today!
Our Residency Program members continue to produce some quality work as they continue their discovery of fine woodworking. In class today, someone asked if I was a carpenter. I explained that a carpenter works with great skill but a different focus than I. Woodworking is as varied as the branches on a tree one might say. A good cabinetmaker might work only in veneer or only in solid wood. She may do inlay or carving. There is no one way to be a woodworker or a fine cabinet maker. We learn methods and skills and then choose our direction from there.
In class, former Mastery student Jeff O’Brien shows our Residents about laminating techniques for cold bends. This is a tremendously useful skill when making up small door handles, bending chair rockers or back slats or even bending up a drawer face. Simple techniques producing a variety of results. What kind of woodworking do you want to do? We have the methods to show you.
As the designer of a piece of furniture, you are in command. You control where and how a viewer will first engage your work, where they will put their hand, what the experience of touching the piece will be like. So often, furniture makers take the easy way out and slap a store bought knob onto their work. There is such opportunity here, for both the enjoyment of playing around with designs and the joy of making something fun and practical. What could be more elemental a feature or purpose than a knob on a door?
On Wednesday March 20th, 2013, join us at the Studio for a lecture on Wood Knobs, Pulls, and Handles. Cost of the lecture is $50. From 6 to 8pm listen as Gary Rogowski discusses designing wood pulls and how a designer plays with the ideas of comfort and function and beauty in designing one. Learn how to model them in different materials and evaluate them for use.
One of our Resident Mastery students this year, Brad Ewing, is finishing up his standing cabinet project. He has mixed some interesting forms and techniques into it. The cabinet is a fairly modern looking box made of ribbon sawn khaya with keyed mitered joints at the corners. This decorative joint still has great strength and looks terrific.
The jig he used to rout the grooves is pretty cool looking too.
The base he is resting the cabinet on takes its inspiration from George Nakashima. He plans on ebonizing and grain filling it so it will really pop the ash figure and solidly support the cabinet both structurally and visually. Brad is really doing some cool stuff on this project. All part of the exploration in the Mastery Program.
A simple design can be the most difficult to pull off well. Form, proportions, and scale are all key contributing factors to making a simple clean lined piece look good. This stool design has been a standard in the Studio since I built the first one in 1978. That stool sits behind my bench and still works great and looks good.
Join us for our Masterworks course next week on the Rogowski Stool. Five days of concentration, tricky joinery, and good clean fun in the woodshop. We will build a compound angled piece that will last a lifetime. This kind of joinery work requires precision, knowledge of jigs, and then a good deal of hand work to shape and fit our pieces. That’s why we’re here to help. It’s been a favorite class in the Studio now for years. Please join us.
There is no better way to learn about the qualities of wood and working it than by using hand tools. This Spring we will offer four weeks of intensive training in hand tool use focusing on tools and sharpening, plane making and stool construction, dovetails and steam bending, and building a small bookcase with hand tools.
Look I get it, you bought power tools first. So did I. But then I had to fill in with my hand tool knowledge. Once I did gain this, I had a huge array of tools at my disposal but the hand tools in particular give me options, accuracy, and eventually speed that power tools cannot match.
If I need to shave a hair off a joint, I grab my shoulder plane. If I need a chamfer in a corner, I use my sharp chisel. Prepping wood is done faster with a sharp hand plane than with a sander and the results are better too.
Please come join us for one week or all four, at a discounted rate of course, and discover the joys of working by hand in the shop. You’ll gain a new appreciation for quiet work at the bench. You’ll also walk away with sharp tools, knowledge on how to properly tune and use them, and some cool little projects.
Studio Director, Gary Rogowski, was recently interviewed by Mark Spagnuolo of The Wood Whisperer for some Wood Whisperer Guild exclusive content. But, because Mark is a great guy, you can listen to the full interview by clicking THIS LINK until Wednesday. If you like what you hear, you should consider joining the Wood Whisperer Guild for more great content like that or taking a class here at The Studio directly from Gary Rogowski.
[2/13 EDIT: The link to the interview is now down, but it is still available to all Wood Whisperer Guild members, so if you missed it here go on over and sign up!]