Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sandpaper from Lee Valley

     But I would do it all again, every bit of          it.  I would lose him again just to have          him again for an hour, for a minute, 
      for even a second

     Lee Smith, Fried Chicken

If you have never read any Lee Smith I highly recommend her. She is subtle and nuanced. She reminds me of Flannery O'Conner with a little bit (lot bit?) of Bobbie Anne Mason.

While setting up shop again and  looking thru catalogs and websites I stumbled across this 3m sandpaper from Lee Valley that is pretty amazing.

If you've been reading my blog you know that I use sandpaper to sharpen my draw knives.  It's not that I don't think water stones don't work they do. But the narrow blade seems to dish the stones a lot so I spend a lot of time flattening the stones.  So I use a 1½ block of MDF in a machinist vice. A piece of 150 grit sandpaper glued to the top holds the paper on top so I don't need to futz with adhesive when running thru the grits. The paper is available in 15ų and also 5ų (around 1000 grit) and an amazingly fine .5ų (around 6000 grit) which leaves an absolute mirror polish.

In the past I used automotive sandpaper which worked fine and still does but this paper is different.  The 15ų (600 grit) has a really solid backer paper which doesn't rip in my hand held blocks I use when I'm on the horse (see below).

These blocks work ok. Could be better and maybe someday I'll come up with something but
when you're busy well you know.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Sharpening Carving Gouges

She started up her walk. Then she seemed to remember something and came back to look at him with wonder and curiosity. “Are you happy?” she said. “Am I what?” he cried. But she was gone—running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.

Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

So confession time. I'm not a great carver and its not something I particularly enjoy.  I also have to admit to using rasps more than I care to admit. And while I'm not very good at carving I am, or rather was, not very good at sharpening carving gouges. As I have stated before my goal in sharpening is speed and repeatability.  I sharpen to get back to work. Unlike Abe Lincoln I derive no pleasure from sharpening.  That having been said it's important to not sharpen because you don't like to.

So I don't even know what rabbit hole I was down when I saw how you can use the little Tormek holder to sharpen carving gouges using their tool. Which is great but it is spendy and I'm pretty happy with my methods but it did plant the seed of how to adapt my Veritas strip sander to their guide bar.

I bought the guide bar from Tormek (actually and after some head scratching and hole drilling it works amazingly well. This is the position of the gouge and the best part is the belt is running away from the edge so you can't tear the strip. I run the tool all the way from 15ų (about 800 grit) to 5ų (about 2000 grit and they are scary scary sharp. Just amazingly sharp. It's super simple too. Just put the gouge in the holder up to the ferrule and use a magic marker to color the bevel and check the point of contact. Once it's good lock the bar in place and run thru the grit. Super simple and repeatable.

Here's my latest chair, a Contemporary rocker, waiting for paint. Really happy the way this one came out.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rolling Pins

The only travelling I've ever done is going around the coffeepot looking for the handle.

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

If you've never read any Proulx I highly recommend Close Range and The Shipping News.

In these strange days due to a layoff at work I decided to build a shop and start with chairs again.

In the spirit of giving back (and in an attempt to get the dust off my very dusty turning skills) I am making some French rolling pins.

The giving part is as follows.  You contact me that you want a pin or two and upon receiving the pin you then send a donation to a local charity. I think in these crazy days I think its important to give back.

I normally use Maple planks that I  bandsaw to size but in the process of my gypsy caravan the last 5 years I could only get logs.

This is basically turning firewood hence the chainsaw helmet and gloves. I have a clear face shield but I prefer the helmet. I find the clear shield gets dusty too easily. 

Feel free to contact me thru my email at if you want a pin.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Shop Progress

I painted my room a shade called haint blue. Blue kept unwanted spirits away; ghosts and demons could not cross over water, nor could they enter a room that was the color of the sea.

Alice Hoffman, The Marriage of Opposites 

( aside...the porch ceilings of porches in old houses were usually painted sky blue as the belief was that spirits and demons would look up and see the blue sky and think that it was still day time and thus they couldn't enter the house )

On the roof is Frank who has been beyond helpful in helping my build the shop. Beyond grateful. 

Some windows are in.

view of the loft 

sky light

So far. The shop is maybe a month away from being able to build chairs. Can't wait.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


He hoped it would snow recklessly and bring to the island the impossible winter purity; so rare and precious, he remembered fondly from his youth.

David Guterson, Snow Falling On Cedars 

I don't use an ax everyday in my shop. I do use a small hatchet, actually it's a shingle hatchet. But I did want to have a decent ax so I bought this one.  It's has very good balance and heft.

Here you can see what I use to sharpen my axes. I don't use stones; instead I prefer using a Nicholson single cut bastard file. I don't use stones because lately I've become keenly aware that I spent a lot of time over sharpening things.  I also find that things like draw knives and axes can really wear out stones and thus I have to spend a lot of time flattening the stones.  

I also wanted a nice sheath for the ax so I got some leather and used some paper to make a pattern and then cut the leather and riveted it together. A small strap holds it on.  I also put some snow seal wax to deepen the color and protect it from the elements. 

  I also put some snow seal wax to deepen the color and protect it from the elements.