Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chairmaker's Mecca

For many of us who make Windsor chairs, Jonesborough Tennessee is a Mecca. Not because there is a treasure trove of antique Windsors, but because there is a treasure in Curtis Buchanan. This very unassuming and humble man has drawn many a Chairmaker, novice and experienced, to this beautiful little hamlet in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Down the gravel path, past his garden, is where the magic happens. This is where I am spending my week, learning from the man I consider to be the best. I will be writing more detailed posts on the class and my experiences during my time with Curtis, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy St. Sharpening Day

Yes it is sharpening day in the shop, in preparation for class next week.  While no one likes to sharpen, it is an evil necessity.  While I was trudging along I began to wonder how others sharpen and what systems they might use.


I recently checked where the blog is being read and it amazed me that so many people from all over the world have been giving it a look, Vietnam, really?  So what sharpening system/s do you use?  If you would be so kind as to leave a brief comment, here on the blog, about the system/s you use and why it works best for you, I would be curious to see the different opinions.

~ Ray Schwanenberger

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Leather Attache' And A Road Trip

Lets talk leather first.  Yes I was able to snap a shot of the Jedi Leather Master (JLM) Ty Black, who brought by the prototype of the Leather Attache'  and I must say it is sweet!  This is not your ordinary run of the mill leather tool roll.  Ty really put some thought into the design of this piece. 

When the flap is folded back and the Attache' is draped over a board as pictured below, accessing the tools is extremely easy.  As you can see it is very easy to determine what tool is where with this design.  When the Attache' is laid flat the blades of the tools are completely concealed between the alternating pockets on the opposite side, providing maximum protection.

This Crazy Horse leather is so very nice.  Ty crafted the 12 pockets to nicely fit my chisels,carving tools, and even my new Galbert 6 degree reamer.  This will make traveling with these essential tools easy and worry free.

Now for the latest road trip.  On Monday I made the four hour trek to the shop of Tennessee Windsor Chairmaker Greg Pennington.  I left my northern Kentucky home, in the Eastern Time Zone, at 5:00 AM to arrive at Greg's shop in Hendersonville, by 9:00 AM.  About half way to Louisville I remembered that Greg lives in the Central Time Zone, insert V8 head slap!  I traveled the four hours, each way, to learn some new turning skills and how to turn the all so sexy Baluster leg and arm post, the way Greg turns them.

I was once told if you want to know how to do something, ask a person that does what you want to do.  In adherence to that sage advice I try to take at least one or two classes a year to learn from the experts.  Greg is one of these experts.  Greg received the majority of his training from two people I consider to be the best in the business; Curtis Buchanan and Pete Galbert.  Besides teaching classes in his own shop, Greg assists Pete with his teaching at The Marc Adams School of Woodworking and The Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking.

I have to say that Greg meets all of the qualifications of "All Around Nice Guy".  Like Curtis and Pete, Greg is very giving of his knowledge and information to help his students succeed.  I will be making the trip back to Hendersonville again for another class with Greg.  If you have never seen Greg's work stop by his web site and or his blog and take a look.

During the day Greg's friend Bill showed up at the shop.  Bill is the gentleman that milled all the timbers and more for Greg's magnificent shop.

As for my class with Greg, there were a few skew catches, read soiling my britches, and  a gouge corkscrewing or two.  However, I felt like I was starting to get the feel for it when I had to start thinking about heading home.  After working with Greg until almost 6:00 EST/5:00 CST I headed north.  The 4 hour trek home seemed to go by quickly.  My thoughts were consumed by the images of the warm and welcoming shop and all the great things I had learned.  Thank you Greg and Bill for making this a wonderful experience.

~ Ray Schwanenberger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oh Sweet Leather

Last week Ty Black stopped by the shop to bring by some leather goods and to play with Matilda.  Being a chair maker the scorp is a tool that I can not do without.  Protecting the edge, and my fingers, of a sharp scorp is difficult to do, unless one knows a person that is proficient in making such devices.  This is where Ty comes in.  Besides being a woodworker, Ty is an excellent leather-smith.

Above is the scorp sheath entirely hand stitched.  I witnessed this process while Ty was making an adaptation, lets just say I think I will stick to working wood.  He also went the extra mile and made me a scraper wallet and a block plane holster.

I am looking forward to getting the finished Tool Attache' made of Crazy Horse Leather.  If you need some leather tool protection, drop Ty an email, you won't be disappointed.

~ Ray Schwanenberger

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Missing In Action

It has been a month to the day since I last made a post, WOW how time flies.  I was released by the doctor to return to the shop and have been busy ever since.  So this is what has been going on.

I went back to work on the bed I'm making for Carol and me and after the long lay off I had to bring the parts back into true.  Deciding on the finish has taken quite some time.  Finishing not being a strong point of mine, I decided to dive into Bob Flexner's book "Understanding Wood Finishing" and rectify that situation, at least partially.  Some of the quarter sawn ash, I had been air drying for 2 years, had some spalting and needed to be covered by the stain and or dye.  So began the experimentation.

It took a total of 22 recipes before we were able to find one that we could agree on and that covered the spalting.  I will make a post later on recipes.  I will say this, the good folks at General Finishes are a great source of information and an absolute joy to work with.  When I called I expected to get "For this department press....", instead a real live human answered, and she was able to answer all my questions and offered some really great suggestions.

I used the badly spalted ash, pictured below, for my test pieces.  I figured if this could be covered the very minor spalting on the bed components would cover with no problem. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. 

I promise my next post will be sooner than a month and it will include "Leather"!

~ Ray Schwanenberger