I have changed my terminology so that my vocabulary no longer contains “Scrap Pile.” My two substitutes are “Leftover Wood” and “Firewood.” Recycling small off cuts and shavings, and other odd pieces in the bread oven, and turning them into food, may be the new cycle of life.
–Which naturally brings me to the brick oven. When the trim is almost done, and the decoration begins, the end of the project is near. Anna Napoletana looked a little lonely hanging on the back of the oven by herself, so I made a very fast useful item with Leftover Wood–a Spoon Rack.
This is the end cuts of the picture frame next to it, and as soon as I saw them, I thought–spoon rack. This has four 1/2″ holes, so it will accommodate four spoons. Three cuts with the miter saw, and then assembly with finishing nails, and a couple of deck screws. It needed some of the gold glitter paint, to match Anna’s frame, and then it was attached to the oven with deck screws. It took far longer for the paint to dry than it took to build it.
Leftover wood, like left over food, can be as good as fresh.
Scrub plane are essential tools for anyone who uses split or rough sawn wood. These will quickly flatten and dimension boards, as they remove thick pieces of wood with every pass. How do they do that? With a little engineering.
The classic German scrub plane–this one is an Ulmia–with a wide throat and a highly convex blade. This is designed to take off a good deal of stock in a hurry, and it does. Now for a home made scrub.
Stanley #5 Jack planes used to be about the price of a High School lunch, and some of the older ones were the cheapest. This is a pre-1902 plane made without a Frog adjustment screw, which is pretty much useless for a scrub plane anyway. I just ground the cheap Stanley blade into a convex cutting machine. I do need to file the throat wider, so those Walnut shavings don’t clog as often.
So scrub away. These planes will save hours of time, and many obscenities.
It’s always a pleasure to know where a product or ingredient comes from–I think it’s called accountability. Not only did this come from the Amish region of Ohio, but its maker was proud enough to sign his name to the basket–a Mr. Jonas Miller. We liked this so much we bought a matching piece to use on the center of our dining room table.
The uprights of the basket are nailed to a solid wood bottom with brass nails. Then the splints are used to shape the piece.The top is a piece of woven Raffia sandwiched between to splints. The belt loops are made of some very nice leather.
We purchased these from the best of the old school hardware stores, Lehman’s in Ohio, which was originally founded to serve the Amish community. If it isn’t top quality, Lehman’s will not sell it.
This basket is in for a long hot summer, as this was only the first picking from our eight Blueberry bushes. We leave some berries for our winged friends, and throw some to the chickens. There is no better way to start a chicken riot than to throw ripe blueberries into the chicken run.
Wood or metal? The debate about what to make planes out of has been around for over a couple of centuries. Like the Romans, my response is–both. I admit, however, that my favorites are these German wooden planes.
The first and the last are the best, so I will start at the bottom and work my way north. The block plane is an ECE plane, which has a fantastically good adjustment mechanism. The Lignum Vitae sole is not too shabby, either.
To the left and up may look like a smoothing plane, but it is actually a scrub plane. As I use mostly split or rough sawn wood, this plane is a necessity. I have used it more than all the rest combined. Ulmia brand.
The well used, well loved plane next to it is an Ulmia smoothing plane. It is the same length as the scrub plane, but is considerably wider. The order of use would be scrub-joiner-smoother.
The next to last row has specialty planes. The first is a very fine Ulmia rabbet plane. It doesn’t have a depth gauge, but the quality of the joints it cuts more than makes up for that. It also has an adjustable throat for finer work. Purchased at an antiques store for $10.
The match planes are ECE, and the grooving plane works fine. Something is wrong with the bevel angle on the tonguing plane, as it jams easily. I would fix that, but I have three other planes that will cut a tongue and groove joint.
The last plane on the top is the daddy of the bunch. That jointer is 24″ of solid beech, and built like an entire Panzer division. It will flatten anything, without also flattening you with its weight. Not something you want to meet in a dark alley.
I had ancestors in two different states in southern Germany. They should be thanked for bringing this kind of craftsmanship across the pond.
I have been thinking about buying a Moving Fillister Plane for years., and had decided on buying a fancy new German one. Christopher Schwartz once wrote that old ones can by quite difficult to tune and could be difficult to get to work properly. This one was in good condition, and cost 20% of a new one. It was worth the risk.
The plane was cutting perfectly after about five minutes of sharpening. I’ve spent far more time than that getting new planes to work properly. And after I did a little research, I found that I had purchased a piece of American woodworking history.
The Reed Plane Company of Utica, New York was founded by four brothers from Wales, who came to the US in 1801. A fifth brother was a builder who constructed most of the warehouses along the Erie Canal. All this info comes from the EARLY AMERICAN INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION.
Depending on the source, the brothers began making planes in their kitchen in 1820 or 1826. They are believed to be the first commercial plane makers in New York, and one of the first in the US. Note: Apple, Google, and Microsoft were either started, or worked out of, garages. At least Amazon was started in a rented house.
The Reed brothers eventually built a twenty square foot workshop, which contained a big one horsepower grindstone for sharpening plane blades. The horsepower was supplied by one horse.
They eventually built a much larger shop, staffed by the brothers, and various journeymen and apprentices. Apprentices at this time often had to pay to learn such a skilled trade, which amounted to a tuition of a sort–the early version of a technical college.
Back to this plane. The business edge is boxed, which means it is reinforced with Boxwood. There is a slight chip in the Boxwood right at the throat, but that has had no effect on its cutting ability. As the company ceased production in 1894, this plane is solidly nineteenth century. This is only a guess, but I say it’s 130 to 160 years old.
Now for a little outrageous behavior. How do you clean a plane that old? My go to cleaner, which many hate, is WD-40. It cleans the wood, and provides it with temporary water resistance. WD in the name means water displacement, and this is formula number 40.
Some necessary tools to use a plane like this.
The cross peen hammer is an all around useful carpenter’s hammer, and just the right size for adjusting the depth of the cut. The screwdriver is beefy enough to deal with the giant screws that hold the fence in location. It could also be used as a defensive weapon, if things come to that. They never do.
Melanie had a very bad case of cutting board envy, as I tend to hog up our huge Adams maple cutting board. Thus I was dispatched to find her a board of her own. The one we wanted from Thailand turned out to be from the “not available” category. Thus I was instructed to look on fleabay.
This Adams end grain cherry cutting board was available for less the twenty dollars. It did have a small crack on one side, but I have plenty of heavy duty clamps. It also needed to be refinished, as it appeared that it had never been oiled even once.
Some glue and a big Jorgensen bar clamp solved the crack problem, and the hairline crack that remained was filled up with sander dust, which is an old repair person’s trick. Now a positive word about sanders.
I rarely use sanders, but having fallen ill with the dreaded Gearhead Syndrome, I bought three anyway. The two random orbit sanders are a small Ryobi one, and a massive Bosch one. The beast of a belt sander I have is a now legendary Swiss made Bosch one. After two decades of work, it still runs perfectly.
This was a perfect job for the little Ryobi. I started with fine discs, then finished with a 320 grit disc. A few coats of food grade Danish oil, which is polymerized linseed oil, and it’s ready for decades of cutting .
No stainless steel grills here, just bricks, camp stoves, and the end of an old propane tank, made into a fire pit. Welcome to old school, part one.
Our primary fuel is wood, mostly dead fall from our 5.5 acres of forest. The brick oven can take a couple of logs at once. It makes one mean pizza, or two. I need to get back into baking big loaves of sourdough bread.
Twenty two years and a few more days later, I am ready to do the trim work on this multi ton beast. Here’s the side view.
That’s homemade paint, that came out very well. The siding was made a few miles from here. I have to buy some wood for the trim. Now for the back, which will be the center, or workplace, for the rustic kitchen.
Four more fuels available here, which I will get into later. The camp stoves burn alcohol, kerosene, and white gas. The blackish paint is flour paint. The wood grill on the right is my riff on a Tuscan style outdoor grill. The whole thing is as rustic as can be. I might even finish it one day.
A Curtain of Green is a great book by Ms. Welty, and the title of an equally great short story. It’s what happens here in this part of the South in the spring–the forest becomes so thick that a person cannot see through it. A great metaphor is forever.
An entire set of curved scrapers costs the same or less than a box of sandpaper. The difference is that the scraper can last for years, or even decades, and doesn’t fill up your lungs with carcinogenic sander dust. Though the above curved scrapers are identical in appearance, they are of two thicknesses. The .04mm ones are for fine scraping, and the .06 are for more heavy duty work.
At the top right is the famous Bahco/Sandvick scraper. Comes ready to work, and can be used without burnishing. It’s thick for a scraper, at .08mm.
The scraper bring grabbed by the old Stanley #82 is a mystery, as the calipers say it is more than 0.1mm thick. It’s as stiff as a plane bade, and has prepared, aka beveled edges, on two ends, German style. it will make some serious shavings.
A typical burnishing setup includes a vise, and a metal working one is best. An absolute must is a good file, and sharpening stone. A carbide burnisher makes things much easier, and I have a great one that was made by Lee Valley Tools in Canada.
I never knew much about Bulgaria until I bought these two Bulgarian made curved adzes. The country has a fascinating history, as they were ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, and the Russians, in that order. The architecture in the capitol Sofia is mind blowing–think Unesco World Heritage Site quality. I know this because I am a card carrying member of Nerdlandia–I have two plastic coated UA degrees in my wallet.
The Bulgarians are especially known for smithing work, as far back as the thirteenth century. They haven’t slowed down any, as those two adzes prove. The big adze is a triple threat, as it works as an adze, a hammer, and a nail puller. It must be a common tool, as it was factory made. It is a wood butcher’s delight.
Mini-me on the right is blacksmith made. This needed a special handle, so I made one out of walnut. The smith who made this is a Mensch.
By contrast, there is also a spoon knife made by Hans Karlsson in Sweden. It cost more than the two adzes combined. Worth the money, as probably the finest spoon carving tool in the world. I just wish he had been born in Bulgaria.
US vs Germany again, but in this case it is all good. The two old guys on the right are Stanley, while “die grünen” or the greens, on the left are Kunz. They all required a little tune up to work properly, but they are cutting machines now.
The double cutter spokeshave is the old Stanley Number 60, which has a concave and flat sole. It can be fiddly to adjust, but cuts fine. The top one is my favorite, the flat sole Number 54 Adjustable Mouth Spokeshave. It will cut shavings that are from thick to see through, and I paid a whopping two bucks for it.
The bottom two on the left are all-arounders. The small is the Kunz Light Flat Spokeshave, which means it has a flat sole. It’s great for spoon work. The obviously concave shave makes anything from spoon and spatula handles, to chair rungs and legs.
The top two are more specialized. The second from the top is the round spokeshave number 151R, a near exact copy of the same models made by Stanley and Record. The most specialized, the Number 65, also has a round sole, but is designed to make chamfers–hence the two adjustable fences. I’ve only had it for a couple of months, but it looks very promising.
The tune up is simple, get the blades as sharp as possible, and file flat the beds that they sit on. After that, learning to use them is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall–practice, practice.