My last post was a year ago. So much had happened in one year. I completed the mini tansu, participated in Mr. Ma Bing-jian’s Chinese 5-level Bracket System workshop (see TFG’s 2010 Western Conference, switched job, and have been keeping rather busy with work.
That said, I also managed to come back to the College of the Redwoods for Yeung Chan’s workshop on Toolmaking and Machined Joinery. What a treat that was. I learned how to make knives and chisels, Yeung Chan-style, and also built a Chinese Ming stool. More updates on the above activities in the future.
Yeung Chan's functional miniature.
Tools by Daiku Bob.
Bob's Chinese stool. My bench - what a mess!
I will make an effort to update the blog more regularly. My goal is one new entry per week.
I had the opportunity to attend the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program (referred to as CRFW from now on) this summer for a 4-week Projects workshop. I have much to say about the program and the mini tansu I worked on in the near future. For now I am posting some of the photos which were taken during the workshop. I met a lot of really nice people at the workshop and it is rather neat to look back and see what we accomplished in that period of time.
In my Picasa web album are “Selected Photos from the Summer Projects Workshop (July 7-July 31, 2009).”
Tansu design sketch
Tansu mockup - mostly completed except for the drawers
“So much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it.” — Willy Wonka
My handwriting has changed drastically over the years, and not exactly for the better. It speaks to the busy family life and hectic career. I have lots of things to do. I try to capture these “action items” using various means – post-it notes, sheets of paper, and more recently Remember the Milk which I have an on-again, off-again relationship with (for the moment it’s on). The todo lists pile up. Once in a while, I take my lists and scrap a lot of the stuff in them. It’s my loose interpretation of Mark Allen’s GTD – “Empty the [lists] regularly. Not emptying your [lists] is like having garbage that nobody ever dumps.” My confession is I’m still working on making GTD work for me.
Getting back to basic isn’t such a bad idea once in a while. For now, I need to go work on improving my handwriting.
Woodworker Sam Maloof passed away last week (May 21, 2009).
As of today, Daiku Bob’s Weblog is moving to its new home at http://www.daikubob.com/. All this while, the Weblog resides at http://daikubob.wordpress.com/ which is hosted by the generous folks who also develop the WordPress software. The move is important since it means I will have more control over the web server and its database. In the future, I can enhance the site in whatever ways I want without any restriction. This is something I had wanted to do for some time but did not get to until now.
In the future, please redirect your web browser to http://www.daikubob.com/.
Small tool box. Dimension: 21Lx9.75Wx4H”
For the past three and a half years, I’ve been attending Jay van Arsdale’s Traditional Japanese Hand Tools and Joinery class at Laney College in Oakland, California. Given the nature of class activities (e.g., tool maintenance, sharpening, and wear) we are required to bring our own tools. I used to carry a big tool box to class and I packed all sorts of tools in it – yes, I’m one who is in a constant state of prepareness, never wanting to miss even a dull moment. Fully loaded, my big tool box weighs upward of 50-60 pounds. Laney campus parking can be a challenge. Sometimes I have to walk about a city block with the tool box propped up on my shoulder. 50-60 pounds eventually feels like dead weight at such distance. There were times when I huffed and puffed and my body was shaking by the time I got to class. Forget about woodworking; I got a workout!
I subsequently scaled down to a “medium-sized” tool box. It is much lighter at about 35-40 pounds fully loaded, but still feels like a heavyweight after a long distance.
More recently, I took the minimalistic approach and kept my tool kit light. I decided on using a small tool box and to limit the tools to what can fit inside. I came up with a list of tools I felt was most essential and they must all fit in the box!
Daiku Bob’s essential tools.
Tool organization can be an issue since there’s no compartment or partitioning. So I made a tool tray for storing chisels and miscellaneous small items. The tray fits inside the tool box.
Tool box and matching tool tray.
Everything is working out well and I’ve been quite happy with it. A frustration which has been growing over the past two months is that it’s difficult to put everything back inside the box! I’m starting to think that the small tool box is a tad bit too small. I’m in the process of building a slightly bigger tool box. Stay tuned…
Build date: ~2003
Materials: Maple and Goncalo Alves
Around 2003, I took a Krenov-style plane making class from Arnold Champagne, a graduate of the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking program. Arnold ran a small workshop out of his house in the San Francisco Portola district, teaching locals the finer art of woodworking. There were about six students in the plane making class and we managed to each make a plane in the two-day session. This was the first wooden plane I made. I’ve made a few planes since.
The material for the plane body is maple and the sole is Goncalo Alves. The blade is a design for Krenov-style planes by Ron Hock. It is made of high carbon tool steel. The 3/16″ thick blade has a wide bevel, making it easy for hand sharpening – this is reminiscent of Japanese plane blades. The Hock blade gets quite sharp and is rather durable.
I admit I have not put this plane to use at all. I went through an experimental period with hand tools and then later set my preference on Japanese woodworking hand tools, including Japanese planes (kanna). Recently, I took the Krenov-style plane out of storage and tuned it. After conditioning the sole I was able to
pull push some nice, full-width shavings. I plan to put the plane through some use to see how it compares against the Japanese wooden plane.
Build date: 2009/03/14
I cut my last set of dovetails about seven months ago (July 2008) for the medium-sized toolbox. I worried that I may be getting rusty, so I decided to practice by making a small box with dovetail joinery. Honestly, I don’t need another small box. I made quite a few of them last year (see here and here).
For this project, I wanted to try cutting very tight tails and small pins – a line’s width. The tails were rather tightly spaced that I was barely able to slip a 4.5mm chisel in between them. Cutting the pins required some concentration since any small deviation in the saw cut would have resulted in very visible mistakes. Having said that, I made a few mistakes, but the end result still looks decent after some minor repairs. I glued the bottom panel in place, then secured it with nails made from a 1/8″ wooden dowel. I’m not too happy with the pull knob on the lid. In hindsight, I could have shaped it with a bit more curves. Oh well, next time. After completing the box, I applied 2 coats of Bioshield Primer Oil #1.
I gave the box to my Mom as an early Mother’s Day present. She was elated.
I stumbled upon my wife’s perspective on our homemade sewing table, the subject of my recent blog entry. What was even more interesting was to learn that the LOML, a “Domestic Engineer,” has been writing a weblog for the past two years! Taking care of our boys is a full time job given their allergies, so she writes mostly about her experiences with them.
Dimension: 27″x23″x31″ (collapsed), 54″x43″x31″ (expanded)
My wife had wanted a dedicated sewing table for some time. I set out to build one in 2007 with a promise that it will be done by year’s end. I bought the sewing machine lift mechanism from Rockler and began the design process. Things became a little too ambitious since I wanted to use solid wood and complicated joinery, as well as employing Japanese design elements. The project was stuck in the design stage. One year and many months went by… The wife, having had to work on several quilting projects on makeshift setups like the family’s dining table and the kid’s study desk, got really fed up with my procrastination and gave me an ultimatum – build or buy, but it better be here in 2 weeks. Given the time constraint, I seriously considered buying but when I looked at the products out there, I was quite disappointed with the low quality and high price. A decent sewing table can cost upward of $1000! Time to build.
To make up for the lost time, I decided to use power tools almost exclusively and to keep the design simple. I also chose MDF, melamine board, and birch plywood for materials. I completed the project on 09/22/2008, over a 2 weekend period. It’s not a pretty thing, but is functional and very sturdy. More importantly, it brought up my approval rating!
A quick study of the design.
Collapsed sewing table for storage.
Sewing table in use. At about 150 pounds, this little guy is a heavyweight!