Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Day With Konrad Sauer

Last Saturday (Nov 23rd) I woke up at 5:00 AM, I never wake up at 5:00, especially on a Saturday.  However, I had a very good reason.  Konrad Sauer paid a visit to Edmonton's Northern Alberta Woodworker's Guild.  For anyone not familiar with Konrad's work I highly recommend that you check it out, Sauer and Steiner.  He is a maker of exquisite hand planes and custom furniture. 

Konrad gave presentations on Friday evening about his plane making process, one on Saturday morning about hand shaping (using mostly rasps and files) of plane parts and table legs, and a third presentation in the afternoon about his design process.  

I was unable to attend the session on Friday but a few of my take-aways from the Saturday sessions included.  

- Similar to a handsaw, a hand plane has hang (how the tool naturally rests in your hand), and that a three finger pistol grip is generally the way to go for both control and eliminating death grip.  
- I had seen in Konrad's blog that he sometimes uses a machinist's vise to hold a twin screw woodworker's clamp which then holds the workpiece.  Seeing the setup in person was a real eyeopener as to how versatile and useful it is.  
- When designing his personal table, the design process included not just a mock up of the table in the room; The table top was set into place and the chairs were set around it and the chairs, people's feet and knees were drawn onto a map on the shop floor so that the table feet and legs could be designed around where people would sit.  

A definite highlight for the day was having dinner after the sessions were over.  There was six of us who were able to make it and getting to know another handful of devoted craftsmen is always a real treat.  Sharing thoughts on craft and design is always great dinner conversation and the opportunities for it don't come by nearly often enough.  

All this being said, by far the most enjoyable time in the day was having the opportunity to try out several of Konrad's planes.  They were all exquisitely crafted and a real joy to use.  I could wax poetic about them for a page and not come close to describing how great they are to use; a perfect marriage of form and function where both are allowed to shine as brilliantly as the sun.  Suffice it to say that if you get the chance to use one, take it! 

Konrad Shaping a Table Leg
A Selection of Beautiful Hand Planes

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Couple Small Projects

Well the expanding table is sill in the works, though progress comes in very small spurts which are spaced far apart.  After some rearranging in the shop I have been able to work on a couple small projects to satisfy my creative outlet.  

Quite some time ago my dad showed me a new knife block he had; I loved how it didn't have designated slots and was instead a box filled with a bunch of polypropylene rods.  Look here to see what I mean.  With how cool the knife block is I also knew it could be so much cooler if made out some nicer wood so I got to work.  

I decided to make the box with rabbett joints and a plywood bottom 9" down from the top.  The box was built of African Paduak which irridesces with a rich red color and I added in some African Blackwood along the edges.  I don't know how I didn't think of this before but to glue up the box I "clamped" it using plastic wrap.  It worked amazingly well, providing consistent pressure along the joints and allowing for very easy alignment adjustments. 

Saran Clamp
Finished Up and Ready to Go
The Knife Block in Use

Another small project I did recently was a tea light candle holder.  The carved tree I inserted into the back of a chair of a deskset earlier this year has become a personal favorite.  With the inspiration from a friend's recent floor lamp project I decided to combine the two.  

The project started with taping a few pieces together and a pattern on front,  With some pilot holes drilled a fret saw makes takes care of removing the waste. 

Multiple Panels Cut at Once with a Fret Saw

I went to a craft store and purchased some rice paper and rice glue, a thin coat of glue was all that was needed to apply the paper.  Note that the right edge of the two panels in the photo below are free of paper.  This needs to stay clear so that the butt joints will have wood to adhere to and there won't be a layer of paper visible on the outside.  A simple block of wood with a few rabbetts provides the base for the candle fixture. 

Applying the Rice Paper

Finished Components

Finished Candle Lantern