Friday, August 24, 2007

This past summer...

Summer is not quite over yet but I would like to share with you some of what I accomplished. Summer is not very long in my part of the world and need to be enjoyed to its fullest for before you know it, it begins to wind down. I finally had time to sit out in our gazebo surrounded by trees and read some good books which have been accumulating. Notably, a book on English furniture creation "Making Great Furniture". This book offers a different perspective on furniture making, breaking away from the traditional North American processes and techniques. Some different, intricate joinery is presented along with very well detailed construction techniques along with detailed coloured diagrams.

Not everything I read is woodworking related so I had the opportunity to read two great novels along with a well-written book on furniture history, a growing passion of mine. Furniture history through the different periods in the past centuries dovetails in with my work. I was called upon in the past year to design a period piece of furniture with a mix of contemporary features. This led me to research in this case Hepplewhite period furniture and in the process my eyes were opened to many different styles from these different historical periods. Many elements from these different historical periods have been adapted into modern furniture, it's nice to read about their origins and evolution. Looking back through time, it also becomes obvious that in many cases a great emphasis on more detail and intricacy was placed on furniture since in many cases furniture defined the person , their place in society and their wealth.

Something else I had the opportunity of doing this summer was to visit a few flea markets and antique shops in the quest for old tools. I was introduced to the virtues of old handplanes and other old woodworking tools a few years back and have since been on the prowl for any old, derelict tools with no family. My best find, I only had 3 in all this summer, is a 24 inch European wooden jointer plane of which I posted a pic here. It was in reasonably good condition with only some wear on the sole. After installing an insert ahead of the mouth, I flattened and trued the hornbeam sole. Surprisingly, it works fine and I've gone ahead and used it a few times already. The other finds are a European wooden smoother with horn , and an antique English ebony and brass mortising gauge.

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