Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane is a tool that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time now, and it’s finally arrived!

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large plow plane

The Veritas Combination Plane and storage box(es)

The Veritas Combination Plane has been a long time coming (though not as long as another fabled combination plane…hehe) – the woodworking community first heard of it a few years ago on various forums, and was initially being called the Large Plow Plane.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plow Plane, Large Plough Plane, Stanley No. 45

The Veritas Combination Plane in it’s box

The plane was demonstrated at Handworks in Amana this year, where Veritas took pre-orders, and is being released in Lee Valley stores (and website sometime early September). Here’s Fine Woodworking’s first look at it.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Beautiful torrefied maple handles

Mine arrived at the local Lee Valley store for pickup earlier today (yes, I am one of the fortunate/unfortunate ones that have a local Lee Valley store), and despite having a very busy day, I had to go pick it up. It arrived with the plane box, and two blade boxes – fenced planes with lots of different blades can be a pain to store so this should help. The boxes are cnc machined out of baltic birch, and fit the blade, the extra fence rods and blade boxes.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Side view, showing the main body of the plane and torrefied maple fence

I haven’t had the opportunity to take this for a whirl yet, so this isn’t a review, but first impressions of the Veritas Combination Plane are fantastic – it sure looks to be made with the typical Veritas attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The 17 brass knobs add some bling to otherwise sleek body, and while it has a heft to it, it doesn’t seem to be as heavy as a Stanley No. 45. A big factor in my decision to purchase this plane was the compatibility with Stanley combination plane blades, which I plan on testing out soon. It also came replete with a torrefied maple fence, a nice touch, as the fence matches the handle and torrefied maple is a very stable material.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Yes, it has a lot of knobs

Speaking of the Stanley No. 45, I never really liked them much, and in preparation for the arrival of the newcomer, I sold both of mine – and if first impressions are anything to go by, I won’t be looking back.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

The box is very well made, from baltic birch

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 0 comments

More Tool Wall Photos

Last post I wrote about my new shop organization aid/self indulgent decor, a tool wall. Here’s a few more photos.

Squares, Combination Square, Engineers square, protractor, bevel gauge, starrett, veritas

All sorts of square(s)

Chisels, woodworking, veritas chisels, stanley sweetheart, mortise chisel

Yes, I have a bit of chisel (and mallet) problem.

Bit and Brace storage, marking tools

Bit and various marking tool storage

framesaw, bit, brace, hand drill

Brace and Drill storage, and my framesaw making a cameo too

 

Veritas MKII sharpening jig

Sharpening jigs

Folding rule, sectore, starrett, dial caliper, stanley

This is the inside of the stanley tool pouch I posted last time. Starrett dial calipers, sector ruler and folding rules

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, 0 comments
Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Ah the interwebs. Such a great source of ideas, information, inspiration…and procrastination. Sometimes I feel like I read more about woodworking than I actually do woodworking. Anyways, one of the things I love seeing is other woodworkers shops, and specifically how they store (and display) their hand tools. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of a tool cabinet vs a tool chest for a while. Either option would be at least a few months into the future given my current list of projects, so in the meantime I decided to go with a tool wall.

Woodworking shop storage for vintage hand planes

Shop storage for vintage tools.

While my power tools reside in an unheated garage, my hand tool shop is in the basement of our house, which means my tools are for the most part protected from the ravages of rust. In the last couple years I have had a couple close calls where rust somehow magically appeared on a couple planes, so I think I’ll build a tool chest capable of holding all of my new planes and forego the wall hung tool cabinet. That leaves the wall free to hold the rest of my tools and keep them readily accessible.

Sawtill for panel saws and backsaws, disston, bad axe, veritas, lie nielsen, knew concepts

Recently completed sawtill

For the last year or so I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about owning so many tools that I hardly get to use, as a hobbyist woodworker. A couple months ago I read the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz, which only made me feel even more guilty about my burgeoning tool collection. I’ve already parted with all the tools I could bring myself to part with (and it was a lot of tools) and now I want to make sure I use all the tools I own. I’ve spent more money than I like to admit on tools, and my finest and favourite tools tend to get stored in a chest with various rust preventation measures…which means I reach for not-so-fine-tools most often because I don’t need to bend over a chest to get at them. My hope is that keeping all my tools readily accessible on a tool wall will make me more likely to use them regularly – and also put them away more frequently, leaving my shop less cluttered.

Tool wall chisel rack

Figuring out placement for chisel racks

Steve Branam’s tool wall is one of the finest tool walls I’ve come across. The simplicity and aesthetic qualities of what he created is just wonderful. As someone who loves all things hand tool related, having a wall full of tools perfectly organized and ready to go serves more than just a utilitarian purpose – it serves as workshop decor too (though my wife disagrees). Anyways, I used some of his principles in deciding on the tool layout. I wanted a single degree of separation between myself and all my tools, i.e. have every single tool accessible without having to move another out of the way. The easier it is to remove and replace a tool, the more likely I am to use it and replace it after I’m done.

Veritas, Ashley Iles, Chisel roll, tool wall

Veritas PMV11 chisels nestled safely in the jean chisel roll stolen from the Ashley Iles chisels…

For a backer board I went with veneered particle board. Each board was screwed into wall studs at 4 points. Chisel/screwdriver/rasp racks were made from 3/8″ strips of Cherry and Walnut, simply two strips laminated along with a couple small spacer blocks. The racks were counterbored and screwed into the particle board, taking care to ensure the chisels enter and exit them easily. The rest of the holders were made from scraps around the shop, other than the jean and leather chisel rolls my Ashley Iles MKII and Stanley Sweetheart chisels came in. It took a bit of fiddling, and a lot of rearranging, but I now have most of my non-handplane tools hung up right where I can see them.

chisel rack, tool wall, ashley iles, stanley sweetheart

Some more chisel storage. The leather ‘spacers’ really help keep the chisels straight, and protect you from the sharp tips.

The tool wall currently holds:

  • 4 sets of bench chisels along with a bunch of miscellaneous chisels
  • A large set of english mortise chisels, and a couple Narex mortise chisels
  • My mallets and plane hammers
  • My squares, dividers, marking gauges, bevel gauges, protractors
  • Dial calipers, rules, sectors
  • Card scrapers
  • Braces, drills, and bits
  • Rasps, screwdrivers, burnishers, files
  • Marking knives, awls, pens and pencils
  • Spokeshaves
  • Sharpening jigs
  • Drawknife
  • Straightedge
  • Framesaw (kind of)
Tool wall, veritas, spokeshave, vintage tools, storage

Simple spokeshave storage

My nicer planes get tucked away in a little rust proof micro environment and my sets of vintage planes (woodies and bailey pattern) sit on uncovered shelves along with a bunch of other vintage tools. The oxidation and patina on those tools seem to protect them from further rust. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Stanley, chisel, sweetheart, tool roll

I’ve never cared much for the chisel rolls some manufacturers include, but they come in useful! The stanley sweethearts come in a beautiful leather roll

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 0 comments

English Mortise Chisels/Pigstickers/Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisels

The Brits really do get the coolest woodworking tools – Scottish infill planes, anything Preston and English mortise chisels, also known as oval bolstered mortise chisels, or pigstickers on this side of the water. These mortise chisels are apparently quite common in the UK, less so in the US, and even less so here in the Great White North…so much so that I never actually ran into any English mortise chisels in the wild here, and the old tool dealers in these parts don’t seem to have any either.

Pigsticker, Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolstered

(Most of) My set of English Mortise chisels

For the last couple of years I’ve been using Narex mortise chisels …they’re very reasonably priced (almost too much so) and the steel sharpens easily and holds a decent edge. I have the 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes, and the first two handle most of my needs – I don’t think I’ve ever used the 1/2″ size. Despite their decent performance, these chisels lacked the fineness and spirit of an old tool, or a finely crafted new tool….so I found myself craving replacements.

Ashley Iles, Mortise Chisel, Ray Iles, Pigsticker

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ pigsticker chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

I had my eyes set on the new Veritas PM-V11 mortise chisels or the Ray Iles pigstickers, but figured I’d check out ebay first. Long story short, I ended up winning 3 separate bids, and now have what is basically a full set of 11 english mortise chisels, ranging from 1/8″ to 5/8″…yes, you read that right, a 5/8″ pigsticker. Six of the chisels are Sorby’s, and the rest are Ward, Marsden Brothers, Thos Ibbotson and I. Cutler.

Some of the sizes seem a little odd at first, like the 11/32″ chisel, until I read Joel Moskowitz’s excellent 5 part article on this topic, which I suggest you read if you are looking into mortise chisels. I know some sizes will be used way less than others, but a benefit of having a wide variety of sizes is that if my tenon is off by about a 16th or a 32nd of an inch, I can still create a perfectly fitting mortise.

Pigsticker, English Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolster

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

The mortise chisels are wonderfully suited to their function – the blades are tapered to prevent jamming, the curve of the primary bevel helps lever out chips and the oval shape of the bolster and handle help align the chisel in the hand without looking. The handle tapers outwards in both directions, providing a wider striking area that concentrates the force on the smaller area of the bolster. The bottom of the handles are rounded to prevent chipping or cracking. And most of all they look super cool (my friends think I’m a dork for finding these things cool, but that’s another matter altogether).

Pigsticker, Oval Bolstered, English Mortise Chisels

English Mortise Chisels

Most of the chisels appear to have their original handles, which are things of beauty. I considered making matching handles for all of them out of jatoba, but the originals are so well made that I can’t justify it. A couple of the chisels will need rehandling however, and I will post about that soon!

Oh, and I’m really looking forward to using The Beast (the 5/8″) during my bench build!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 2 comments

Sawtill in 3 Hours (-ish)

I have too many saws. Let’s just get that out of the way. And if I’m honest I don’t even use some of them all that often. But these are the ones I’ve whittled my saw collection down to, and every time I do use them I remember why they made it into my permanent saws. My panel saws were all taking up floor space in a corner of the shop, while most of my backsaws were laid flat in the drawer under my tool chest. It wasn’t an ideal situation, and I needed a wall hanging sawtill.

Disston, Saw, Panel Saw

My ‘keeper’ panel saws. A couple Disston D-8s, a few more Disstons, a Spear & Jackson and a Warranted Superior. Yes, my shop needed to be cleaned.

Another thing I need to admit – I procrastinate when I reach a crucial or difficult part of a major project. In this case squaring up and cutting the dovetails in the ends of the coffee table boards….so the sawtill was a somewhat justifiable reason to delay that part. That said, I needed this project to be quick, so I kept track of my working time. The stock I used was some Douglas Fir I purchased almost two years ago from Home Depot. The 1x board was around 4″ wide, and straight grained. I didn’t measure anything for this project except for the width of the till, as that’s the dimension that dictates the number of saws I can store in the sawtill. In my case with 7 panel saws, 9 backsaws and a little extra for the inevitable future purchases, the width came to around 26″.

sawtill, sliding dovetail

The sides glued up and ready for cleaning up and joinery

I cut the board and laminated the pieces to minimise waste. I knew I wanted to include some curves in the design, but wasn’t too specific about what I wanted yet. With the glue up done and cleaned up, it was time to cut the joinery. The sawtill has two stretchers in the back attached using lap joints, and a stretcher in the front attached via sliding dovetails that also serves as the rest for the saw handles. I cut the joinery in the sides at once, with both sides held in the vise. Cutting both sides at once saves a ton of time measuring and marking. The lap joints can be marked off directly from the stretcher stock. The dovetail tenons were slightly offset, i.e., the tenon was not centred on the stretcher. I marked the tenons off from the sides, taking care to ensure the offset was on the same side of the stretcher on both sides.

Sawtill, sliding dovetail

Gang cutting the joinery for the sides

…Unfortunately I clearly didn’t take enough care with marking the offset, as I ended up with the two tenons cut offset in different directions. After a little while considering my options and cursing my stupidity, it came down to either shortening the stretcher and reducing the saw till capacity, or ‘fixing’ one tenon by attaching a narrow offcut to it. I went with the latter, glueing up a slice of wood and holding it in tightly place with some tape for a couple hours. This seemed to fix the issue, with both dovetails fitting pretty well without needing any paring.

dovetail tenon

Fixing the dovetail tenon

With the joinery done, I marked out the side profile on one side of the sawtill, and lined both sides up in the vise to cut at once. I just eyeballed the profile and drew it in freehand – I’m sure using french curves for this step would make it more pleasing aesthetically. I used a coping saw to cut the profile out as close to my lines as I safely could. I was close to the end when the saw jumped out mid – vigorous stroke, and caught the index finger on my left hand on the push stroke. I knew something was wrong as a steady stream of blood poured out immediately. I couldn’t tell how deep the cut was, as even under running water the cut bled too much to be able to see anything, so I wrapped it tightly with a large bandaid and headed back downstairs to finish rasping the profile out. With the profile completed, I glued up the sawtill.

curves, coping saw

Cutting curves for the side profiles using a coping saw

A few hours later I headed back into the shop to check out how the till was doing, when the cut on my finger literally started spurting blood through the band aid. Fast forward a few hours, and I was leaving the emergency at 3 AM with 5 heavy sutures in my finger. Turns out the cut almost reached the bone, and was a lot worse than I had anticipated. The next day I decided to finish the project with 9 digits – there wasn’t much left to do, just glue squeeze out clean up and attaching the kerfed pieces that the sawblades slot into. This part took a little fiddling, as the sawtill was a bit steep. I cut the kerfs a bit oversize, and did them on the bandsaw.

Woodworking accidents

Handsaws are dangerous too

I decided against staining or finishing the till at all. I liked the look of the Douglas Fir, and the fact that the till would be in an indoor shop meant that a finish really wasn’t necessary. I attached the sawtill to the wall with two screws through the stretchers into the wall studs. Oh, and I added a couple nails on one side to hold my flush cut saws, and a nail on the top stretcher to hold my Knew Concepts fret saw.

The three hour sawtill!

The three hour sawtill!

All together the working time on this project was around 3 hours, not including the time for the glue to dry and the emergency visit to the hospital. I love having my tools out where I can see them, because, well, I love tools and I think they’re beautiful…but also because a tool I can see is a tool I’m more likely to use. That’s enough procrastination for now though, time to get back to that coffee table…

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Side profile of the sawtill and my backsaw collection; A number of Veritas, a couple Lie Nielsens, a Bad Axe and a Disston.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, Shop, 0 comments
100% Wood Wall Hanging Coat Rack

100% Wood Wall Hanging Coat Rack

A few months ago I was asked to make a wall hanging coat rack. The only design direction I was given was a slightly modern look in a dark wood. I figured out a rough design idea in my head and went looking for some appropriate stock, and found some walnut the perfect size in my scrap bin. I had 6 scrap pieces of roughly the same size, and decided to use 3 for the base with the grain running vertically, and use the others for the actual hooks.

Walnut coat rack, wall handing, mid century modern

The walnut scrap pieces I used to make one of the wall hanging coat racks

After jointing the edges and gluing up, I flattened and trued the board using my jack plane. A couple of the pieces had live edges, and were on the outside; when I make these using pieces that don’t have live edges I make sure to place the sap wood on the outside. Nothing annoys me more than a laminated piece with sapwood in the middle, it just seems unnatural (of course, to each their own and all that…). I also planed some chamfers and rasped in some curves followed by a spokeshave for the edges of the backer board.

walnut, mid century modern, coat rack

The cavity for the hooks and spacers marked out, and the backer board shaped out

Okay, so back to the design. I decided to go with a backing board, with 9 hooks on top – 5 of them laminated in place and 4 sandwiched between fixed pieces that can fold in or out as required. I marked out a good equal distance from each end, and tried a couple of different sizes for the hooks height and width till I settled on a size that looked just right. With the space for the hooks marked out, I set about routing out a shallow cavity for the hooks to sit in. Of course, this being me, it was all done using hand tools and so the router in question was a Stanley 71 1/2. I prefer the closed mouth 71 1/2 over the open 71.

walnut, mid century modern, wall hanging coat rack

Routing out the cavity using my Stanley 71 1/2 router

I ripped the hooks and spacer pieces and planed them down to size, and drilled through each of them (except the two end pieces) to house the oak dowel that formed the hinge rod. I cut out the shape of the hooks roughly using a dovetail saw, and refined them using rasps. The top of the hooks needed to be slimmed down a bit to do a better job of holding the coats. The bottom of the hooks need to be curved to allow them to open without interfering with the backer board, while also acting as a stop to prevent them from just flopping down all the way. This was rough estimation followed by trial and error to get the final shape.

mid century modern, wall hanging coat rack, walnut

Cutting out and shaping the hooks and spacer pieces

With the hooks, spacer pieces and backer board for the wall hanging coat rack all ready, it was time for glue up. This is where an accurately cut out cavity really shines. I cut the dowel to length, assembled the hooks and spacer pieces, applied glue to the cavity and set them in place using clamps. I was very careful to set the pieces precisely, as I wanted a friction fit, otherwise the hooks won’t close properly. Obviously, no glue on the hooks themselves, only on the spacer pieces. I left the glue to set and dry overnight.

walnut, mid century modern, wall hanging tool rack

The hooks and spacers in place for a dry fit before glue up and shaping

The next day all I had to do was plane the hooks and spacers flush, and use a block plane to chamfer their outside edges before finishing. I used a couple coats of shellac followed by paste wax. The hooks work just as they should, and close flush to the spacer pieces. To mount the racks I used brass screws countersunk into the backer board – I’ve always loved the look of walnut and brass.

walnut, mid century modern, wall handing tool rack

The finished 100% wood wall hanging tool rack!

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Builds, Wall Hanging Coat Rack, 2 comments
Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

Ashley Iles MKII Chisels- First Impressions

I spent a pretty large proportion of my time as a beginner woodworker looking for, and restoring old tools. Probably way too much time, and it took away from time I should have spent learning to saw, chisel and plane properly. In recent months I went through a bit of a philosophical change, sold off most of my extra tools (I had a lot) and for the most part, started replacing them with new, high quality tools. I’ll be writing about what brought about this change and the tools I forsook and what I replaced them with in another post. Nevertheless, it’s actually very easy to find an old plane and turn it into a stellar performer. Old chisels are actually a bit more finicky (and boring) to restore. Not to mention some people (myself included) find mismatched sets of chisels rather unattractive. I guess I’m just shallow like that. Anyways, it was time to look for a new set of bench chisels, and after a lot of research, I decided to go with the set of six Ashley Iles MKII Chisels.

Ashley Iles, MKII, Chisels, Alfie Shine, Marking Knife

My package from the UK – Ashley Iles MKII chisels, Alfie Shine and Marking Knife

When I first started woodworking, I bought my first ever chisels from Home Depot. It wasn’t long before I outgrew them. I’ve tried a variety of chisels up till now, the new Stanley Sweethearts, mismatched vintage chisels, Marples blue chips, the red Footprint equivalents and a set of vintage German chisels to name a few. Some of these were great, and some not so much. Add to that the fact that every single forum thread on chisels seems to include at least a few references to Ashley Iles MKII Chisels, Paul Sellers used to recommend them(not so much nowadays), my lack of self control and my newfound determination to replace my old tools with top quality tools that require no work, and I found myself ordering the set of six MKII chisels before I knew it.

Ashley Iles, MKII Bench Chisels

The MKII chisels in the tool roll they come in

There are no dealers for Ashley Iles tools in Canada, so I purchased mine from the Ashley Iles website. They were out of stock initially, so I had to wait a little before I could place my order. The set of six MKII chisels and shipping to Canada cost me around $220, a very decent price for a high quality set of chisels. The website warns that these tools are in high demand, and may take up to 21 days before they ship, and they aren’t joking. Mine took 22 days, and was shipped using Royal Mail Standard, so it was close to two months before I finally received mine. These chisels are handmade in Sheffield, and Ashley Iles are a small family run business, so the wait is well justified.

MKII, Ashley Iles, Bench Chisels

Glue squeeze out from the ferrules

The chisels arrived in a rolled up jean tool roll. I don’t travel with my chisels, so the tool roll is extraneous to my requirements, but it’s still I nice touch. I believe they used to come with a leather roll before, but that’s just how these things go. This was the first tool I ordered from the UK, and something about it had me super excited. Upon unravelling the tool roll and taking out the chisels, I was…rather disappointed. The brass ferrules on most of the chisels were loose and coming off, which was expected, coming from humid England to dry, cold northern Alberta. However, the underneath the ferrules was a healthy amount of glue squeeze out, that was clearly not wiped off during manufacturing. The manufacturer’s mark on the chisels was stamped on without much care as to the orientation, making the overall fit and finish of the tools rather sloppy. This might seem nit-picky, but given that most premium, small tool manufacturers go over and above what is expected these days, this aesthetic lack of care was rather disappointing. Other than these issues the chisels have an understated beauty about them – the Bubinga handles are hand turned, in classic and simple pattern that is easy to hold and is hefty enough to be able to withstand striking.

Ashley Iles MKII, Bench Chisel

The manufacturer’s marks were stamped on without much care for the orientation

Anyways, given the disappointing first impressions, I was really worried about the flatness of the chisel backs. The chisels are slightly hollow ground, and this is supposed to make the backs easier to flatten. I decided to skip the 1200 grit diamond stone and head straight to my 4000 and 8000 grit Bester Imanishi ceramic stones to flatten and hone the chisels. Once I started I realised immediately that I needn’t have worried about the quality of the steel – the backs flattened to a polish in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Honing the edges was similarly quick. The steel was befitting of a premium chisel, and ultimately that’s what counts the most.

Hollow grind, Ashley Iles, MKII Chisels

The flattened backs on all the chisels, showing the hollow grind

I used the chisels to build a dovetailed coffee box for a friend’s birthday, and they really excelled at chopping and cleaning out the corners of the pins and tails. The lands are ground down very fine at the tip, making them very well suited to the dovetailing tasks. In use the chisels felt balanced, hefty and well made.

Overall I wouldn’t list these chisels as premium offerings – they don’t have the fit and finish required to be considered in the same league as the Veritas, Lie Nielsen or Blue Spruce bench chisels. That being said, the set of six Ashley Iles MKII chisels were considerably cheaper – less than half the price of the set of five Veritas PMV11 chisels, and less than a third the cost of Blue Spruce chisels, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison. It should be noted that the price has gone up quite a bit since I ordered them. They’re currently around 40% more expensive than they were a few months ago. For the price I paid, I don’t regret the purchase at all – it’s still early days, but it appears other than the minor issues with fit and finish, the Ashley Iles MKII chisels are lifetime tools that are premium where it counts.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Reviews, Tools, 0 comments
The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 2 – Ideas and Concepts

The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 2 – Ideas and Concepts

I took the design I sketched to my wife for her approval. She okayed it but didn’t seem too enthused, so I took my time looking up various other designs. The mid-century modern coffee table designs seemed to fall in one of two camps, either a table with skewed and tapered legs and thin top, or a box shaped carcase on smaller legs. The wife seemed a lot more enthusiastic about the latter, so the overall design theme for the Artisan coffee table was settled.

When designing a piece of furniture, the overall design of the piece needs to be based on it’s setting. In this case, the coffee table would be seen and used mostly against our living room couch, so I set the basic dimensions based on the couch. When sketching my piece I like to sketch the key aspects of the environment to scale to be able to visualise roughly how it’ll look.

Mid-century modern coffee table, couch

Sketching the key furniture that the table will be viewed against – the couch

Most mid-century modern coffee tables I came across on the internet with box-shaped carcases looked rather disproportional to me – they either had legs that were too long, or stretchers that were too long or short, ruining the visual relationship between the top and the base. I decided to go with the golden ratio to establish the dimensions between the top and the base, both for the length and the depth. The other key aspect to this sort of a design is the angle of skew and taper on the legs. I tried out a few different angles before settling on my final design.

Mid century modern, artisan, walnut

Walnut lumber for the Artisan coffee table – and my cat

I left off last post at the lumber purchasing stage – it just so happened that I came across someone selling a pretty large amount of lumber on Kijiji (a Canadian craigslist of sorts), and the bulk of the wood was walnut. I picked out a few pieces based on grain and colour similarities and stickered them to allow the wood to acclimatise to my home. I’ve overlooked this step in the past and kicked myself for it later on. With the wood left to sticker, it gave me some more time to settle the finer details of the design.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Artisan Coffee Table, Builds, 0 comments
The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 1 – Ideas and Concepts

The Artisan Coffee Table Pt. 1 – Ideas and Concepts

I always have a running list of honey-do projects that I don’t seem to be able to get ahead of. It’s gotten to the point where my wife no longer asks me if I can build something – the other day she was about to pull the trigger on a dresser from IKEA. Surprisingly, this actually gave me a twinge of sadness…on the one hand I dislike the mass produced, assemble at home furniture, and pride my own ability to build things that are custom and will last for a lifetime; on the other hand, a piece of furniture in hand is better than two pieces of furniture in the bush. Or something like that. Anyways, it spurred me into action, so here we are. The most urgent of this list was a new coffee table – I shall call it the Artisan Coffee Table.

Mid-Century Modern, Coffee Table, Maker, Craft, Designer, Furniture Designer

Mid-Century Modern Coffee Table Design V1

My wife loves all things mid-century modern, and all things walnut, so all I had to go on for the design was that she wanted a mid-century modern coffee table in walnut. I did pick out a couple of beautiful cherry boards that we could go with instead, but we settled on walnut. With that settled I started researching mid-century modern coffee table designs, and sketching my ideas. I’m more of a pen and paper kind of person (also more of a printed book person vs e-books), so I do all my rough and detailed sketches on paper. I settled on a clean and slim design, with tapered and splayed legs, and a long top with beveled edges. When I do my final sketches I like to calculate out all the angles on the final piece, but also the angles at which I’ll need to cut my stock (bless up for 5th grade geometry).

I had to pick up stock before I could proceed any further, so this feels like a good place to break. Till next time!

 

 

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Tour of Lee Valley & Veritas Manufacturing Facilities – Part 2

I left off in my last post in the R&D department at Veritas. One thing I forgot to mention was that I also got to see a part of Rob Lee’s antique tool collection, including a number of gorgeous plow planes. We didn’t visit Rob’s office, as he was away, but I hear he has quite the collection in there too. From R&D we headed out to the Veritas manufacturing facilities, passing through a large room with an incredible wall full of various tool designs – some of them were pretty out there, so I’m not sure if they were part of the R&D brainstorming process, or how they come up with the April Fool’s products.

Veritas, Plane, Woodworking

All of the Veritas handles are finished by hand in Ottawa

The manufacturing shop was pretty large in itself, and was extremely busy. We followed the stages of manufacture, from rough castings, to cleaning up the castings, to milling the mouths and the adjustable mouths of the planes, to the final flattening of each casting. Unfortunately I don’t really have many photos to share of the shop itself, as I didn’t want to inconvenience the many busy shop workers bustling about. In a separate area, the handles for all the tools are cnc cut out of torrefied maple, before being finally shaped and finished by hand. With the relatively large volume of production, I found it pretty amazing that Veritas still finished each handle by hand. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all make their way to assembly

Veritas, Plane, Flattening

Final flattening of a plane sole at the Veritas Manufacturing Facilities

From there each tool and blade heads to QA, where every single tool is subjected to testing for flatness and perpendicularity. The final castings, handles and screws/knobs all then make their way to assembly, where they are assembled by dedicated workers and boxed, ready for shipping.

Veritas, Plane, Handplane, Handtools

Display of a full set of Veritas tools available to try at the Ottawa store

We finished our tour at the Ottawa Lee Valley store. The whole tour took over 2 hours, and I’m very grateful to Gerald for taking the time to walk me through all of their facilities and giving me such a detailed and attentive tour. To cap it all off, Gerald handed me a little gift in a velvet pouch – a key ring shaped like a Veritas custom jack plane (although Gerald pointed out these key rings were made before the custom line existed). It just so happened that I’d been looking for a key ring for a while, and this one was about as perfect as it could get. Definitely an experience I won’ t be forgetting soon!

jack plane, veritas, hand plane

The jack plane key ring gift I received

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