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Showing posts from November, 2011

How to Make a Spring Pole Lathe for Bowl Turning, Part 1

I like making bowls more than I like making money.

H.V. Morton, In Search of England, 1930

I've been wanting to make a new spring pole lathe for the last 2 years or so and now that I have 5 acres with trees again, I decided that making such a lathe would be a good winter project. If any of you happen to have a copy of the February 2002 issue of Woodwork you'll know that there is a wonderful article in that issue about Robin Wood, a bowl turner in England. (If you don't know about Robin already please visit his website at www.robin-wood.co.uk/index.htm, he is simply an amazing woodworker and you should see his work.) In the article there is a photo essay of him building a spring pole lathe out of a log using just an small broad axe, centers made from 5/8 inch rod and several different sized augers. That is what I am working on, making a lathe from a tree with just a Jersey pattern axe and a brace with a bit.



There was a Douglas fir near the house with a dead top that had a …

The Wonders of French Polish

In my former papers I have shown that the nineteenth century was the century of ugliness, and that the labor-saving machinery which gave us in exchange for the beauty of life degraded the workman without really adding materially to the happiness of the consumer. Some of my readers and critics have called this pessimistic, and so it would be, if I had intended to stop there. But pessimism is the root of optimism and you have to be thoroughly persuaded that things are in a bad way before you are willing to set to work to improve them.

Ernest Crosby, 'The Beauty of Ugliness', The Craftsman, c. 1905


This is a guitar with a Sitka spruce top with eastern black walnut back and sides that I made sometime ago on a Robert Bouchet plantilla and is braced with an asymmetrical bracing from Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado. When I built it all the books I had read on guitar making up to that point, Cumpiano's Guitarmaking, Sloane's Classic Guitar Construction, Overholtzer'…

Restoring a Craftsman Style Rocker, Conclusion

There is but one rule - it must belong, must blend, must fit the setting, whether it be cabin, outdoor kitchen, bench, stool or whatnot in the woods. That which is wholly in order in the city may raise its distressing head with consummate ugliness in the wilds.

Bernard S. Mason, Woodcraft, 1954



Here is the rocker in its restored form.



The seat cushion was made by Georgia at Lyons Upholstery in Lyons, Colorado and she did a wonderful job.



I used a Minwax red oak stain that I left on for quite a while before wiping it off. I applied 3 coats of Minwax Wipe On Poly, which I must say, is very easy to apply and the results are amazing! I was truly impressed with this wipe on polyurethane, I would use it again. No wonder the luthier Paul Jacobson is now using this poly as an option to finish the tops on his guitars.



Our living room, the restored rocker is on the right. The rocker on the left needs to be refinished, but doesn't need any work to keep it from falling apart like the other di…

One Man Crosscut Saw, Firewood and French Polish

There is a wonderful rhythm in using a crosscut saw, the "shish" of the cutters and rakers clearing out a kerf almost becomes hypnotic, but your arms, shoulders and hips tell you that you are working. To work is to pray.



We don't need to heat with wood, the house has a steam heat furnace that is quite efficient. The fireplace is huge, but more for a romantic show. I cut about a cord and a half of lodge pole pine before these last 2 storms. My Husky 385 chainsaw is overkill on these small trees, cutting the wood to stove length is quick, but after watching "Alone in the Wilderness", a documentary on Dick Proenneke's life in Alaska, I pulled out the one man crosscut saws I own. I figured I need the exercise. This saw belonged to my father-in-law, it's a Monkey Ward saw with perforated lance teeth with a "D" handle, the auxiliary handle came from our place in northeastern California. This set up works though after using it for about a half an hou…