Steve's Shavings in March

Steve's Shavings

Last month we were privileged to have Christopher Schwarz, hand tool woodworking aficionado and Editor of Lost Art Press, visit the Triangle Woodworkers Association. He discussed his Dutch Tool Chest at our regular meeting on Friday. Amazingly, the tool chest fits (barely) in the back seat of his Scion Sports Coupe he drove down from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky near Cincinnati.

On Saturday, Chris led a handplane tuning workshop. Participants were able to adjust their planes for scrubbing and fine tune other planes for making gossamer shavings. He also took time to demonstrate his well-researched method of tuning a hand scraper. Sunday was a real work out for the TWA Workshop participants. Chris coached us through the creation of three layout tools. We started out making a mahogany straight edge that, believe me, took a significant amount of hand planing to get all the surfaces flat and edges true. Then we turned our attention to making a pair of winding sticks out of cherry with maple inlay. The third wooden hand tool was a Roubo design, try square in maple.

We made bushels of shavings and learned from an incredibly talented individual. I think everyone left the workshops with a better appreciation of hand tool working and some very nice layout tools. I must admit, at times, it was tempting to just turn on the power jointer to obtain straight edges or the thickness planer to obtain parallel surfaces. However, with the use of sharp and finely tuned hand tools, the tactile marriage to the wood made this experience gratifying. Maybe we can talk Chris into visiting us annually.

I would be remiss without thanking Jeff Leimberger for coordinating the visit by Chris Schwarz and preparing workshop materials. Jeff was assisted in the workshop prep by Mike Payst and Allan Campbell. Mike also coordinated the use of several leg vices made by TWA members. TWA sponsor, The Hardwood Store in Gibsonville, NC, supplied the lumber used to make the layout tools at a discounted price. Finally, a special thanks is extended to Allan & Joyce Campbell for housing our guest, hosting the workshop, and preparing some delicious food.

Since joining TWA and participating in club sponsored workshops conducted by Will Neptune, Chris Gochnour, Garrett Hack, and Chris Schwarcz; I have become a convert to picking up a well tuned hand tool when possible as opposed to flipping the switch on a dust generator. In my early years of woodworking, I was most fortunate to have a grandfather (B. H. Bailey) who could sharpen any edge tool. With his passing, I not only lost a friend but my woodworking mentor. I could not sharpen my plane blades, chisels, or hand saws to the degree necessary to make using hand tools a pleasing and safe woodworking experience. As these tools dulled, they were put on the shelf to develop that special patina old tools gain through non use. I suspect other woodworkers have had a similar experience until they have the opportunity to use a hand plane that makes gossamer shavings or pare dove tails with a mirror finish and razor sharp chisel. Sharpening is truly a gateway skill. Sharp and finely tuned hand tools are necessary to make precision joinery and finely finished wood surfaces. Additionally, really sharp tools are easier and safer to control, plus it is healthier for you. There are several sharpening systems available to today’s woodworker. Some are as simple as a jig with training wheels on sand paper affixed to a flat surface to a slowly rotating special wheel for sharpening and honing.

Until you pass through the gateway into the world of truly sharp tools, you will be missing out of that special tactile marriage between wood and the human hand. The difference is like carving wood with a chain saw or a dedicated set of wood carving gouges and chisels. Yes, you can create some awesome woodworks with a chain saw but you will be missing that special feeling of a sharp gouge or chisel slicing wood. Learning to work wood with properly sharpened tools will open unlimited avenues. Sharpening is not hard. Woodworking with really sharp and finely tuned handtools can be a wonderful experience. Try it, you might like it.

Please bring a friend who shares our passion for woodworking to our next TWA meeting, Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop at 3141 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh beginning at 7 p.m.

Now ~~ let’s go make some shavings~~

President: Steve Steinbeck


Steve's Shavings in February

I continue to be amazed at the local talent of woodworkers and their willingness to share some incredible works of wooden art. January’s meeting of the TWA featured Erik Wolken of “Works in Wood” from Chapel Hill. Eric demonstrated his unique style of functioning sculpture in wood.
    If you know of a local woodworking artisan for a future program, please share with our Program Chair, Jeff Leimberger.
    This month Chris Schwarz is visiting us and providing a FRIDAY, (the 22nd) meeting followed by 2 workshops on Saturday (the 23rd) and Sunday (the 24th). Even if you are a power tool woodworker, I assure you that you will come away with an enhanced appreciation of the many capabilities of using hand tools. Besides - using hand tools is safer and they don’t make fine dust. My philosophy of woodworking; "whenever possible, making wood shavings is better than making dust".
    I was reminded recently of the need to be ever vigilant about safety. A devastating fire at the home of a long-term friend that started in his shop which is located on Walnut Street in Cary. The fire apparently started in one of the shop electrical fixtures. This also got me thinking of our personal safety when doing  woodworking projects. I am often reminded of my Grandfather who operated a flooring mill in West Virginia before coming to this area, here .he ran a saw mill in Morrisville. He was replacing the cutter knives on the flooring machine when the power was inadvertently turned on and he lost two fingers. Later, he lost the sight in one eye when a sliver of wood become a projectile. After retirement, he had continuing loss of hearing and developed a respiratory disease. I recall as a kid going to these mills and hearing the wood processing machines screaming loudly and brown snow covering everything in sight. Today we know better...we are responsible for our actions and being responsible means thinking before doing. Safety starts with mental processes. Woodworking as a hobby or profession can be very dangerous and no amount of safety gear or advise can replace thinking safe. Always visualize and rehearse your actions when working with tools. If it seems uncomfortable or awkward it is likely unsafe. Focus on the task at hand, without distraction, being overly tired, or in a hurry. This is when mishaps occur...not accidents. ALWAYS wear eye protection, protect your ears and lungs from long-term impacts from noise and dust. This is why I try to use sharp, properly tuned, hand tools whenever possible. Safety should always be #1 on the list of things to do when startin g all projects.

Please bring a friend who shares our passion for woodworking to our next TWA meeting Friday, February 22, 2013 at Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop - 3141 Capital Blvd. - Raleigh, beginning at 7 pm.

Now ~~ let’s go make some shavings~~

President: Steve Steinbeck


The President's Corner - January 2013

Steve's Shavings

It’s cold outside and I hope each of you are woodworking in the warmth of your shop or at least, working on plans for your next project.

The Triangle Woodworkers Association certainly did itself proud with a very successful Toys for Tots year. TWA created over 3000 hand crafted wooden toys to help make a better Christmas for many kids. Thanks to all who gave of their time, skills, and abilities, especially our Committee Chair, Fred Ford. Plans are already under¬way for 2013.

Speaking of plans and Fred, the TWA Board of Directors and many Committee Chairmen met at Fred’s home to start making 2013 the best year yet. There are special programs and events in the works. Some examples include; Chris Schwarz, on February 22, with our regular meeting on Friday followed by 2 workshops on Saturday and Sunday; Chuck Bender is coming in June and will be conducting a weekend workshop, and Fred Ford is planning a special Pig Pickin’ for our July meeting to kick off the 28th Annual TWA Toys for Tots project. Of course, there are some special woodworking artisans scheduled for each of our regular meetings.

Following our December TWA meeting, I began working on my column for the TWA Newsletter but two recent events altered my plans. I decided to write about Fine Woodworking, an iconic woodworking magazine currently published seven times a year. The first event occurred on December 14, 2012 with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the second event was a Fine Woodworking Magazine Archive 1975-2012 DVD Christmas gift from my wife. What do these two events have in common? Newtown, Connecticut...home of Sandy Hook Elementary & The Taunton Press, (publisher of Fine Woodworking). If you were interested in buying a woodworking magazine published in the USA before the winter of 1975, you were out of luck. To fill this vacuum, Paul Roman decided to publish a quarterly magazine written by skilled and passionate woodworkers who have a talent for writing. This philosophy of hiring woodworkers who can write continues to this day.

Fine Woodworking was first published in the winter of 1975. Approximately 25,000 copies of FW, Issue #1 were distributed and contained 18 brief articles and 4 advertisements on 50 pages of heavy stock paper and cost $2.50 each or $8.00 for an annual subscription. Of note, the original four advertisers were Leichtung, Woodcraft, Constantine, and Garrett Wade. By comparison, the most recent FW, Issue #231 (Feb. 2013), contains 8 feature articles, 8 regular columns, 65 ads, on 90 pages and cost $8.00 each or $35.00 annu¬ally.

Recently a Collector’s Edition of the first issue of Fine Woodworking, was published at a cost of $19.95. The original FW cover was a black and white Polaroid picture taken by Paul Roman of a turned segmented (checkered) bowl by Irving Fischman. Issue #1 included articles on turning, carving, hand planing, marquetry, finishing, power tools, materials (birch plywood), bench stones, and books.

Paul Roman and his wife produced the magazine out of the attic in their home in Newtown, Ct. for the first few years and now have a large publishing house on Main St. in Newtown. Paul used Scientific American as the model for FW with it’s archival quality. Some of the early publishing decisions continue today and include the requirement that all ads must be directly related to woodworking, and no advertisement on the back cover, a much prized location. Seems that Paul thought the ad (Garrett Wade Co.) planned for the back cover of FW, Issue #1 was unattractive and he moved it to the inside cover.

Circulation grew from 25,000 in 1975 to 100,000 three years later. In 1985 FW had over a quarter million readers and the current circulation (2012) is approximately 300,000. FW was published quarterly from 1975 until 1979 when bimonthly publishing began. In the winter of 2000/01, FW published a special 25th Anniversary Issue (#146) and continues to publish FW bimonthly with a special FW Tools & Shops Annual Issue each winter. The first 40 issues of FW were black and white until a few articles contained color pictures beginning August, 1983 (Issue #41) and the first totally color issue began in October, 1984 (Issue #48).

Much of the FW success can be attributed to the passionate woodworkers who willingly shared their skills with a surprisingly large group of solitary woodworkers. Early contributors included: Tage Frid, Sam Malof, Bruce Hoadley, and James Krenov to name a few who would certainly be in a Woodworkers Hall of Fame. The Triangle Woodworkers Association has been fortunate to have several renowned and frequent FW contributors lead workshops including: Garrett Hack, Chris Gochnour, and Will Neptune.

While Fine Woodworking (1975) is certainly the granddaddy of woodworking magazines, today they are joined by WoodSmith (1979), Wood (1984), American Woodworker (1985), Woodworkers Journal (1989), ShopNotes (1992), Popular Woodworking (1995), and Woodcraft (2005).

My interest in woodworking can be linked to Fine Woodworking as an early subscriber. Many an evening was spent reading the feature articles, building a few weekend projects, and coveting some of the woodworking tools that were beyond my means or space. It is hard to believe 37 years have passed since the first issue of Fine Wood¬working was published. It is stunning to think that 230 issues occupy several feet of shelf space, with over 26,000 pages, and now, thanks for a Christmas gift from my wife, I have FW Issues #1 through #230 on a single DVD.

Thank you Newtown, Ct. for giving us Fine Woodworking and our thoughts are with you in this time of need.

Our next TWA regular meeting is January 15, 2013. Please bring a friend who shares our passion for cutting, shaping, and finishing wood. Hope to see you soon.


Happy New Year,

President: Steve Steinbeck


The President's Corner - December 2012

Steve's Shavings

Hard to believe November has come and gone and another educational TWA meeting has passed. Thanks to Ed Mastin for obtaining the services of Steve Wall, owner of Steve H. Wall Lumber Co. in Mayodan, NC. Steve's presentation on lumber selection and other wood products was very informative. During his presentation, Steve conducted multiple drawings and several TWA members went home with some quality wood products.
Pete Bucki raised a few more bucks for Toys for Tots with his 4 minute auction and the 2 items he had available. Thanks to those who participated and I hope members will continue to participate at future meetings. If you have some woodworking items you no longer need, please consider a donation for the T4T auction.

Speaking of donations, now is the time to review your woodworking library and consider donating your gently used publications for the TWA Member “Book Distribution”. Remember, reuse is better than recycling. Like the auction, the TWA Book Distribution sale offsets some of the T4T costs.

Since the November TWA meeting I have been on “vacation” for a few weeks at my wife’s farm in Bladen County near Elizabethtown, NC. While “piddling” on the farm I moved a large, but diminishing, pile of tobacco sticks from a shed next to a very old tobacco barn to an enclosed area in the old “pack house.” The old “sticks” were moved to preserve them from termites and theft. I plan to use these old tobacco sticks to make some writing pens and for “ricking” (my grandfather’s term) lumber for drying. While working around these farm structures built over 100 years ago, it occurred to me the woodworking skills our ancestors, just a couple of generations ago, needed to be successful. They would fell trees, debark them, hand dress and joint the logs, and erect the barns and other out buildings. Examining the old tobacco barn and pack house on the farm demonstrated substantial joinery skills (dove tails, half laps, & bridle joints) and most of this work was done with hand tools and crude power saws. Some of the timbers used in the construction had over 25 rings per inch. I am thankful that today, unlike our ancestors, with the use of much improved hand and power woodworking tools, we can produce some nice woodworking projects without having the skills required of our ancestors. While enjoying the solitude of the farm, I am also thankful I live in the Triangle where I am only 45 minutes or less from at least 3 stores dedicated to the woodworker, several lumber yards, and only minutes from the big box home improvement stores.

I look forward to seeing you at our next TWA meeting on December 11th for our special Toys for Tots give-away Program lead by Fred Ford.

I hope each of you had a bountiful Thanksgiving and wish upon you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Now, let’s go make some wood shavings,

President: Steve Steinbeck



The President's Corner - November 2012


Steve's Shavings

If you did not attend the October meeting you missed some special events. Pete Bucki conducted a rapid paced auction consisting of 2 woodworking related items. The money raised from the auction helps defray the increasing material costs of Toys for Tots. Be sure to participate in the auction at the November TWA meeting.

Once again, Jeff Leimberger, Program Chair, came through with yet another outstanding and engaging program from a local artisan - Jon Turner, luthier from Chapel Hill. Jon gave a hands on demonstration of the special techniques, jigs, and forms necessary to build a quality acoustic string instrument. I continue to be amazed at the quality of woodworking artisans in the Triangle area. If you know of others, please let Jeff know for possible future programs.

October continues as one of my favorite months. The weather is cooler, the leaves are turning vibrant hues, it is my birth month, and the NC State Fair comes to town for eleven days. I have been attending the State Fair for over 60 years and one of my favorite stops is the Village of Yesteryear in the Holshouser Building where numerous craftsmen and artisans share their skills. I visited several “woodworkers” demonstrating their craft including: Paul Rolfe, woodcarver; Bill Wallace, woodturner; Keith Hartman, wooden folk toy maker; Max Woody, chair maker; and Jason Lonon, wood & iron worker, from whom I ordered some holdfasts. By the way, if you are 65 or older, admission is free and it only costs $2 for a round trip shuttle bus ticket. In 2013, plan on attending the NC State Fair and be sure to visit the artisans at the Village of Yesteryear.

This is also the time of year when the new woodworking shows begin on TV. Of course, WUNC/PBS (Broadcast Ch. 4 and TWC Ch. 170 or 172) carries some of the most informative shows. Below is a listing of the Fall 2012 woodworking lineup:

• The Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill, appears on Saturday from 3:30-4:00 and Tuesday from 4:30-5:00. Roy has done approximately 390 shows over 31 seasons preaching the craft of woodworking with human powered tools.
• American Woodshop with Scott Phillips has been on PBS for 19 years and appears on Thursday from 9:30-10:00 and 2:30-3:00. Scott shares his unique woodworking style using both hand and power tools.
• Woodsmith Shop will begin it’s sixth season on PBS and this 30 minute show appears on Tuesday at 4:30 and Saturday at 3:30. This show focuses on power tool jigs and shortcuts when building projects.
• Rough Cut with Tommy MacDonald, who was trained at the famous North Bennet Street School, airs Thursdays at 10:30 & 3:30, then on Saturdays at 3:00. Tommy Mac continues in the fine tradition begun by Norm Abrams, New Yankee Workshop on WGBH Boston.

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I am most thankful that I can join in fellowship with woodworkers at the monthly meeting and occasional workshop of the Triangle Woodworkers Association.
Look forward to seeing you at the next TWA meeting on November 13, 2012.

Now, let’s go make some wood shavings,

President: Steve Steinbeck


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