Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Remember When I Could Easily Buy a Vintage Handsaw Without Spending My Life Savings

Yesterday, I went to my favorite used tool website, Sydnas Sloot and once again discovered that I was too late to consider buying a vintage saw from Mr. Moss. Sandy Moss is one of the best used tool dealers to buy from on the Internet, several of the tools in my arsenal I purchased from him.

I also realized that the last tool I purchased from Sandy was seven years ago (I reached a saturation point in tool collecting about then) and that the world has changed mightily since those days. There was once a time when you had a few days to consider buying a hand saw from an Internet seller before it would be sold to another, now you must snap up a vintage saw immediately or it will be sold. I also remember when most hand saws were priced under $50 and most saws at a flea market were under $20. Again, those prices and saws have gone the way of the buffalo.

There is currently a Handsaw Craze that is sweeping the nation, when did hand saws become so popular? Am I the only 50 year old man who remembers when the old timers discarded handsaws for a bandsaw and table saw because they thought those machines were the best things to use for ripping and crosscutting wood?

These days writers for the glitzy woodworking magazines have discovered the potential of hand saws. That has created a "revival" among men who retired from their regular day jobs and finally got the chance to do what they wanted-work with the wood. There is nothing wrong with that, but I wish that they didn't drive the prices of tools out of the reach of those of us who haven't retired or, in my case, never will.

I use power tools at my day job because they make me more efficient. I use hand saws to make guitars, to use a bandsaw or table saw for me removes a very personal aspect of guitar making. A guitar is such an intimate instrument, why instill noise into the wood and then into the spirit of the guitar?

I honor an allegiance to my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers by using hand saws. For me a handsaw is not a fad and the last thing I want to do is drive the price of a vintage handsaw so high that a newbie to traditional woodworking would be better off buying a $235 saw from Lie-Nielson or Wenzloff and Sons. I guess I could say that for the entire vintage tool market at the moment.

I don't apologize for this rant. A woodworker should use the tools that they need and should be able to purchase them at a reasonable price. I plan on working with the wood until I can no longer get out of bed, woodworking for me is not a fad, but a way of life.

All of us need to make wood working accessible to those who are younger and make it fun for them. I do not want to deny a young person an education just because the market is driving up the price of the tools (or college tuition for that matter) needed to get ahead in life.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wood and Rawhide Snowshoes, Twenty Inches of Snow!

No one knows how the idea for the first snowshoes came about.

Gil Gilpatrick, Building Wooden Snowshoes & Snowshoe Furniture, 2001

Remember these snowshoes? I re-laced them with 1/8 inch nylon cord and mason's line last November and today was the first day I could really try them out! We received over 20inches of snow yesterday and last night, some times the snowfall rate was 4 inches an hour!

These snowshoes are a dream! They are about 2 pounds lighter per shoe, as compared to when they were laced with rawhide, now it's like walking air! Click here or on the book title above to learn more about Gil Gilpatrick's book on how to make snowshoes!

Our place this morning. I might try to get the Wrangler out this afternoon!

The gulch behind our house.

Our Australian shepherd, Josey, coming up the road.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Ukulele YouTubes You Need to See!

I found these at my favorite ukulele website, Ukulele Hunt! And if anyone wants a custom ukulele I'd be happy to make you one!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Wood Carving Knives-Mora of Sweden #106 and #120

What kind of knife do we need?

Bernard S. Mason, Woodcraft, 1973

Rob Gates, who has a wonderful blog, The Offcut, was asking me about what knife I use.

My main "go to" knife these days is a Frosts Mora of Sweden #106 woodcarving knife that I purchased from Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Click here to see this knife at SMKW!

Mora of Sweden #106 Woodcarving Knife, 3 1/4 inch blade, top
Mora of Sweden #120 Woodcarving Knife, 2 3/8 inch blade, bottom

My wife bought me this knife several years ago for Christmas, she heard me mention that Robin Wood preferred this knife for spoon carving. I find it the most amazing knife, I wish I had gotten one years ago. The extra blade length is a big help in carving, especially spoons, there is something about how easily it moves through the wood. Check out Robin's blog for other recommendations for green wood working tools!

I bought the Mora #120 twenty years ago or so from Woodcraft, you can see how much I've sharpened it. I carved many a spoon and the heels of several guitar necks with this knife. Click here to see this knife at SMKW!

These knives are indispensable in my shop. I would be helpless without them. I suppose that I should try to make a guitar or ukulele with just a knife and an axe one of these days.

I am a firmly believe that every woodworker needs to be highly skilled with a knife.

(Rob, I found Moonraker Knives and Woodsmith Experience in the UK that carries Mora Knives. If you know of a retailer for Frosts Mora knives there in the UK that provides good service, please let me know. I promised to send one to the daughter of a good friend of mine in the Yorkshire Dales for her birthday!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Julia's Guitar, Part 2 - Making A Copy of a 1933 Santos Hernandez Guitar

Spain is the ancestral home of classic guitar. The world's greatest guitars have come from the workbenches of Spanish luthiers and Spanish composers have contributed a rich literature for this favored instrument.

Irving Sloane, Classic Guitar Construction, 1966

Work continues on Julia's guitar as I can make time.

The neck and upper bout have been leveled with sanding blocks for the fret board. I put down the tape to keep the glue squeeze out off the wood. I learned to this long ago, if you don't you can spend a lot of time carefully scraping away the glue and the wood.

The fret board is ready to go, it has its final shape and level. I decided to use at piece of 3/4 inch MDF for the clamping caul instead of the piece of Douglas fir that I have used in the past. The MDF is more flexible and more likely to conform to any irregularities of the fret board and neck. I want the fret board to have good contact with the neck!

Gluing and clamping the fret board.

After installing the frets. I bought a new fret hammer from LMI, my old Sears-Roebuck cobbler's hammer tended to mar the frets, and I got a pair of fret nippers from StewMac which are absolutely wonderful. Finally, a tool I don't have to send back to StewMac because it was poorly made!

The head stock. I tried to make the crest as much like the original as I could.

Carving the neck. As a classic guitar player, I know that the neck must be comfortable, it's probably the most important part of the guitar! I'll spend some quality time to make this the best neck I have ever made.

Carving the neck and the back side of the head stock.

0 Degrees Fahrenheit

A comfortable camp while in the woods is one which affords shelter from the wind and storm.

Daniel Carter Beard, The Field and Forest Handy Book, 1906

The outside thermometer registered 0 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, it may have said -1 degree Fahrenheit, but I didn't want to look too closely. Not bad for April 10th!

We got much needed snow with this storm, but not enough. I just read that the snow pack at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is at 49 percent of normal and the Wild Basin snow pack is at 54 percent.

It's going to be a long hot, dry and very scary summer. The wildland firefighters will be very happy.

All Wood Double Top Classical Guitar

  Double top , or composite top, classical guitars are all the rage these days, especially among young guitarists and I decided that I would...