I haven’t written here in a while. It’s a long story, another time perhaps. Meanwhile, I’m knocked out with something just under the flu. One thing on my to-be-done list has been learning how to convert JPEGs to PDFs, not for woodworking, but for the many books Rose has written.
But I practiced on Felebien first. So as a thank-you to all the blog readers here for their patience while I was busy bungling the latest tool sale, I’m posting the Felebien stuff I have here. The PDF here is the chapter on joiner’s work, from a reprint of the 1699 edition. Felebien’s first edition was 1676, i.e. pre-Moxon.
So while you’re waiting for Chris to finish up on the Roubo volume, now you can reach back to an earlier time in Paris, and see what Moxon was copying some of his stuff from…
Now, somewhere I have some attempts at translation done for Alexander & I almost 15 years ago. Paula Marcoux (now the Magnificent Leaven http://www.themagnificentleaven.com/The_Magnificent_Leaven/WELCOME.html ) took a whack at it for us… so here is a “warts n’ all” translation. this is done as a Word document, I have had enough, so I’m not converting it to anything. Have fun.
This note from Craig D touches on just why we used a joint stool as the project in our introduction to 17th-century joinery book…you only need a short section of a log. Many find it daunting to go out & secure a large oak log. But Craig says he used an “urban” white oak that had already been cut to firewood lengths. Here’s his note & stool:
Hi Peter – I thoroughly enjoyed the Joint Stool book and used the information to build this stool from an urban white oak that had been cut into long firewood logs. Quite enjoyable and very informative.
Thanks to you and Jennie for writing the book and your blog.
We could all use a hit of positive news – and I got some from Scott Landis in my inbox this morning. Scott you might remember as the author of the Taunton Press book on Workbenches (yes, there were workbenches before C. Schwarz!) – I met Scott when he, Alexander & I were all students in a class Curtis Buchanan taught on making a bow-back Windsor chair in 1987 at Country Workshops.
Nowadays Scott is the president of Green Wood, an organization that trains (mostly, but not only) young people in places like Honduras and Peru to make sustainable wooden products from rain forests. Curtis Buchanan, Brian Boggs and other craftsmen have made trips down there to begin training folks in these woodcrafts, starting back in 1993.
“The photo … shows Curtis at work in El Carbón in the mid-1990s. And the middle photo shows some of the new furniture that is being made today by young artisans whom Curtis and Brian have never met. In fact, GreenWood has not visited this community for at least five years, and we have not conducted a training workshop there in nearly twice that long. These are the fruits of seeds we planted two decades ago in what could best be described as hardpan clay. El Carbón is beset by every manner of hardship—from crushing poverty and natural disaster (Hurricane Mitch) to massive hydroelectric development and the pervasive violence that plagues the whole country. This vulnerable Pech village illustrates the simple but enduring truth that, even under the most challenging conditions, good ideas will eventually take root. If that’s not sustainable development, what is?”
Rather than me trying to write about it, just follow the link and see for yourselves. If you are signed up for the newsletters from Green Wood, then you’re onto it. If not, now’s the time to see what these folks are up to. There’s a button where you can donate $$ via paypal. It came at the right time for me. Some of Alexander’s extra tools might make it down there, who knows…
While it’s true you can make either work, the single-bevel hatchet is ideally suited for hewing stock prior to planing it. Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises (1683) wrote:
“its use is to Hew the Irregularities off such pieces of Stuff which maybe sooner Hewn than Sawn. When the Edge is downwards, and the Handle towards you, the right side of its Edge must be Ground to a Bevil…”
Here’s my everyday hewing hatchet.
I was a bit vague last time about its configuration, and Robin Wood chimed in, helping to clarify some stuff. The back of the hatchet I often have called the “flat back” but it ain’t that at all. So I shot some views illustrating how it’s shaped. Think of it as a very large, very shallow, in-cannel gouge. Here is a straightedge held along cutting edge on the “back” i.e. the side w no bevel:
The benefit of this shape is readily apparent when you try to use one that is NOT shaped like this. Then the tool digs into the wood, and here it scoops the chips out. I next put the straightedge perpendicular to the cutting edge, to show relief in that direction as well. Some of this is the shape of the tool, some is exacerbated by honing:
I have another hatchet, same maker, JFR Fuchs, Cannstat, Germany, c. early 1930s. This one has a cranked eye, to keep your knuckles safe when hewing. This leans the handle away from the plane of action, without having to make a bent handle. I use this one particularly when hewing wide panels. Here the back of the hatchet is sitting flat on the board, and the handle is lifted off:
The shape of the back of the head is about the same as the previous.
BUT – you ain’t gonna find one of these hatchets in the wild. I doubt it anyway. Nobody gets rid of them. Mostly. When I recently discussed these tools with Drew Langsner, he said “probably the best hatchets ever made” or words to that effect. A strong & un-provable statement, but it gets the point across that these are mighty fine tools.
One type of hatchet you will find readily in the UK and US is the so-called Kent pattern hatchets. (A hairy-handed gent, who ran amok in Kent…) This one weighs about 3 1/2 lbs, about the same as the Fuchs…
Nice thing about these hatchets – you can find them. They aren’t expensive. They can work. and they are reversible for lefties. Knock the handle out, and put one in from the other end. Often the cutting edge is straight. I prefer a curve to the cutting edge. So do others, I didn’t do the alteration on this one.
Here’s an earlier post about some of the same tools:
I bought a new hatchet a few weeks ago….this lightweight model from Hans Karlsson. In the US, Hans’ tools come from Country Workshops, the school where I am sometimes student, sometimes instructor. see www.countryworkshops.org
I used it some just to test it out. I bought it as a spoon-and-bowl-carving axe. It’s quite nice for that. Karlsson’s tools are extremely well-made. Drew Langsner tells me it weighs 24 1/2 oz, and is 15″ long overall. Blade length is about 4 1/2″.
A few more shots of it:
The handle on this one is ash, some are listed in the Country Workshops’ site as birch. Hardwood either way I guess. This one has a tooled surface, along the idea of some of the Wetterlings and Gransfors Bruks axes. It’s not a hand-made handle of course…but not smooth. Here’s the text Drew wrote about it for the Country Workshops brochure
“The axe (head with handle) was designed by Wille Sundqvist. Overall length is about 14-inches. Bevels are symmetrical and flat; there no need to touch up the inner bevel. The balance is excellent and it has a lively feel during use.”
Note that the bevels on this axe are flat, unlike the Gransfors Bruks axes, which have slightly convex bevels. This axe really is ready to go when you unwrap it.
The hatchet is listed at $172.25 in the Country Workshops brochure…write to Drew if you need one. It’s a fine tool…
Now – going back to the most-common axe question I get – where does one get a single-bevel hatchet like the one I use in joinery work? Answser – I don’t know. Many tell me GB makes one, but I have only seen their single-bevel axe listed as a heavy, (about 7 lbs.) tool. As far as I know, their hatchets for hewing are double-bevels. Oxhead makes one, I have never tried it. I am dis-inlcined.
BUT – you can hew flat surfaces with a double-bevel axe/hatchet. The single-bevel tool is better, but the double-bevel will work. Here’s a video Chris Schwarz shot of me showing a few options, a large Wetterlings I got from Lie-Nielsen, another older Hans Karlsson, my standard German one, and a modified one by Alexander. (along with plodding old-timey music!)
UPDATE – Ha! Shows you what I know. Highland Hardware lists a Gransfors Bruks broad axe, righty & lefty, that weigh 3lbs, cutting edge 7″ – very similar to what my favorite axe is. The GB axe is over $300. So you have to mean it… here’s the #s from Highland Gransfors Bruks # 4823. Model 1900