Saturday, July 20, 2013

FORP - Final day

And oh my what a day!  Today I can very happily tell you that we, as a group, completed one functional bench.  And it is the grandmother of all Roubo style workbenches.  There may have been a Roubo style workbench of these proportions at some time in history..  But I would bet that there has never been, nor ever will be, a bench this fantastically immense built in the U.S. in the last 50 years or more, if ever.  Especially in Barnesville, GA,  this is by far one of the greatest things I have experienced in my life.

I present to you, my Internet woodworking friends, the FORP bench owned by Bo Childs.  She was born at 16 feet long, 27 inches wide and nearly 6 inches thick, weighing roughly 1200 pounds fully assembled.

It was truly an honor and a thrill to be apart of this bench's birth into the world.  A birth that started over 200 years ago.  It makes me feel so special to have my name on this unique piece of history.

I am I love with this bench!  Is that so wrong?

I kinda feel like I am cheating on my new bench (I still love you, my darling!). But I know she understands.  These French girls are not jealous.  Here is my sweet bench all tucked away and ready for the voyage home.  I really don't have much more to do, but I wanted to make sure I was able to help with the final push on Bo's bench and to do my part to clean up.

I will end this here for tonight for I am truly exhausted.  I will post at least once more about this project and also when my bench is complete.  For now, good night folks!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

FORP - day 4

Four days are in the books.  I am feeling several emotions right now.  Fear - that maybe Chris' bench may end up on the side or middle of the highway tomorrow.  Sad - that this truly unique week is nearly over.  Happy - that I have met and spent so much time with truly great people.  Pride - in the work I and everyone else has accomplished this week.  But mostly gratitude - that I was able to participate in this event.  I truly feel privileged.   Thanks so much to everyone involved this week - Bo, Jameel, Ron, Chris, Raney, Jeff, Don, Steve, Brad, Allen and Neal, Krishen, Wesley, Roger, Niels, Will, Jon, and anyone I have forgotten.  I know we have one more day together, but it feels appropriate to express my gratitude tonight after our "fairwell party."  Or maybe it's just the limoncello talking!

Anywho...today was a hard but good day.  With all the major timber moving over, we once again were diligently slaving on our joinery.  For me, the status is that my base is cut and square.  My top has mortises laid out and drilled.  A lot of folks have taken to the power tools to chop their mortises, but for me, other than a power drill to remove the bulk of the waste, it is all hand tools.  I am ok with that.  I don't care if I don't finish.  This is what I enjoy and what my soul desires.

I don't have many pics today, as I was so busy.  But here are some highlights:
My base is dry fitted and complete.

Thanks to Wesley, I was able to hog out the waste of my mortises with a really nasty awesome drill.  This thing chewed wet oak like buttah!

Then it's time to pull out the chisels and do some real work.

One down, well at least most of the way.  I will flip the top over tomorrow and come from the other side to avoid blowout.

That's about it for the action shots.  Again, we had our "fairwell party" tonight and there was quite a few people gathered.

Sipping some limoncello and admiring my base.

Bo laid out some really pretty oak for everyone to see.  Nice stuff!

Here is my size 11.5 foot on one to give perspective on these boards.  Nice stuff!

Last shot of the night!  We had a great time today!  Looking forward to tomorrow with bittersweet anticipation.

Tomorrow I might have an assembled bench.  I doubt it, but it's possible.  Either way, I am ok with that.  I am sure I will have it completed soon after I arrive home.  Words can't express how happy I feel tonight.  I am truly grateful.  Night all!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FORP - Day 3

It was a hot and hard one today.  With most of the milling of parts complete, focus turned to the joinery of the bases.  I feel I got a lot done today.  I squared and made parallel both edges of my top.  It was a lot of work, using a portable power planer and finishing with hand planes.  Then I started work on the stretchers of the base.  I only got the short sides done, but I feel good about the fit.

The day started with cutting off the badly checked end.  This brought me down to just under 9 feet long.  Feeling a little like Crocodile Dundee here, "That's not a circular saw!  This is a circular saw!"

Then it was time to work the edges.

About lunchtime everyday, the shop dog shows up.  Wonder why?

Today our planing stops showed up along with some of our holdfasts.  These bits of hand forged iron from Peter Ross are truly beautiful!  They really are a treat.

After lunch I began laying out and cutting the tenons for the stretchers.  For these short ones, I chose to cut them with my handsaws.  But tomorrow I will probably use the bandsaw for the long ones.  The may just be too long to mess with handsaws.

Halfway there!  It looks kinda funny because the bench is upside down, but it is really coming along.


Hopefully by tomorrow's end, I will have an assembled base and my mortises cut in the top.  And hopefully all that will be left on friday will be fine  tuning and helping other folks.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FORP - Day two

Today we glued up the last bench top, but mostly it was about the bases.  We rough cut the stock for the rails and then focused on the legs.

Ripping is so easy when you have this thing.  We were able to remove the bark and rip two boards at the same time out of a slab of oak.

These are the slabs we used for the rails.

Next we hollowed out the mortises where the rails will connect to the legs.  Again, so easy to chop a mortise with just two fingers.  Like buttah!!

After the mortises, came the big through tenons on the legs that will come through the bench tops.  Jeff Miller set up the bandsaw to make this painless.

Then we cut the dovetails on the tenons.

And now all of my bench legs are now finished and ready for the base assembly and laying out the mortises on the bench.  Tomorrow I will probably finish dimensioning my bench top.  Then we start working on the rails to connect the legs.

Here is Brad cutting the tenon shoulder on his leg.  Smile, Brad.  It was so cool, I had three people using my bench at the same time today.  I could never do that on my bench at home.  I can't wait to get this bench done and into my shop!

At some point everyday we get a little slap happy and some frivolity ensues.  Niels is showing off his head standing ability, on his bench...haha.

The day was capped off perfectly with dinner at Ron Brese's house.  Our gracious host was kind enough to show his shop and let us all paw his fantastic planes.  He even showed off his fantastic saw collection.  Thanks so much, Ron!  It was a joy!

So far, my expectations have been exceeded, and they were high to begin with.  I have had such a wonderful time and can't wait for tommorow.  But, I must sleep.  There is nothing left in the tank.  Until tomorrow, signing off - "The Power Feeder"


Monday, July 15, 2013

FORP - Day one

I think we made a lot of progress today.  All of the tops were flattened and thicknesses today.  It helps when you have 20 guys, 2 forklifts and a Oliver stratoplaner that is both a joiner and planer and 36" wide.  Pretty much one pass and the tops are ready.   About half of the group has 2 pieces for their tops, so we got most of those jointed and glued too.  All of the legs have been final dimensioned and are ready to cut tenons.  I'll tell ya, I am jealous of some of these tops.  Several are stunning with lots of figure and ray fleck.  I love mine as well, I think it has lots of character and I am eager to use it!  Some eye candy:

Hand forged ferrule and crank made by Peter Ross.



This pile of slabs...

Gets fed into this monster...

And spits out a flat and nearly finished bench top.

Some come out very pretty.

Others come out ENORMOUS, such as the one for Bo.  16' x 27" x6" thick this beast turned out to be.

What has been really fun so far is that this has been a total team effort.  We all work on all of the benches together.  Here we are processing all of the legs at once.

I was able to test the fit of my screw to the tapped leg too.  Very nice.

As I said, about half the group had to glue up 2 pieces for their slab.  So a good jointed surface was needed for glue up.  Normally this is a fairly easy task.  But when your material requires 3 people to move it, it is a little more tricky and requires good teamwork.

That's all I got for tonight.  Tomorrow we will finish up gluing the slabs we didn't get to today and I am sure there will be some joinery started!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

FORP - Prologue

Well, I made it in one piece.  It's been a long day.  But there are great things to come, I can feel it.  We gathered tonight to meet each other, set up and learn more about the materials and their origins.  We also heard Chris speak about the specific features and joinery that make these benches so darn useful.  We got a quick tour of this special place and brought our tools in and gawked at each others chests and horses, insert your own jokes.  And I have a few pictures to share, my apologies for the quality on a couple of them.

A huge pile of sawdust.  I thought I had a lot.

Here is Chris doing what Chris does.

That pile of stuff is all of the hardware for all of our benches, including the tapped front leg to accept the huge wooden screw for the leg vise.

Behold, the HUGE wooden screw!!!  Simply awesome!

My workspace.  This is where the magic happens, hopefully I will be the one creating the magic.

The workspaces of the many others.  May they be magical as well!

Time to get some sleep, we start early milling up the material.  I can't wait!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

1 week to go until the FORP (French Oak Roubo Project)

One week from tonight I will begin my trek down to Georgia.  It seems like so long ago that I first read about this opportunity.  At first, it was only a dream.  With all that I had planned for my life this year, I couldn't imagine squeezing something like this in, time-wise or budget-wise.  Yet here I am.  Feverishly preparing to make the journey and participate in, hopefully, one of the most exciting projects of my life.  Words fail me here.  Only a few times in my 38 years have I felt like this.  I can't wait!

Anyway, enough gushing on about that.  Today I "finished" my tool chest with a week to spare.  I am using quotes, because I may still have a few things to do with the chest, but they can be done later this year or whenever.  The tool chest is 100% functional.  The wood I used is pretty, but that is as far as the glamour goes with this project.  I didn't want a perfect beautiful chest that I would be too scared to use.  I didn't take my time.  I went through this as fast as I could.  Most of the joinery is glued almost directly off the saw.  I may have spent a minute cleaning fuzz out of corners, but for the most part, I cut and dry fitted every piece, then glued it up.  No muss, no fuss.  Are there some mistakes?  Yep.  Are my dovetails perfect and tight?  Not all, but I surprised myself on how good they really did come out for the most part without any fuss.  Again, I wanted it functional, not pretty.  I may change a few things or add some details later, but my goal has been reached and I am happy with my success.

Again this is not an original design, but a heavily modified version of Chris Schwarz's ATC.  I think it looks like an ATC but is closer to the dimensions of his Dutch chest.  But for me, it is the perfect size. Big enough for all my current tools with a little room for future tools, but compact enough I can manage it up my stairs (barely).  I am proud to say this is my new tool chest.

I only have the base coat of Charles Brock's Masterpiece finishing system on it so far.  I will try to work through all the steps of the system before I leave, but I am not worried about it if I don't.  The handles are "carved" from a single piece of Walnut.  They are glued and screwed to the case.

I like the lid.  I was surprised by the figure in this board.  I am glad I held it back to use for the lid!  I may put some trim around the edge of the lid at a later time, but then again I may not.  I like the clean look...we'll see.  I may also put a lock on the lid at some point, but again maybe not.  I can live without for now.

I had room under the lid to install the pencil holder made by Ty Black.  One of these days I will remove and dye the leather lid supports black.

I used hard maple for the tray bottoms and parts they slide on for better wear.  I made my saw till portable as well.  I cut a short piece of leather for a handle to reach down and pull the till out.  It works very well.

Hand planes and assorted tools on the other side, along with the chisel rack  It's hard to see, but I screwed a piece of leather to the case to act as a sheath for the chisels.  This protects the blade edges from banging into the planes and it also protects my hands when I reach in to pull out the planes.  It only took me one time to stab my hand before I put that in there....haha.

Also, I made a little catch that swivels down between the trays when they are at their opposite sides.  This keeps the trays from sliding back and forth when traveling, and more importantly, when I am carrying the chest.  This thing is heavy and awkward enough without having shifting weight inside.  It is a very nice feature and I am very happy I did it.

Tomorrow I am going to build some timber framing style saw horses to take with me.  This will give me some sturdy horses to use and also allow me to practice the double tenon joint we will be using on the Roubo benches.  I'll show them when they are done.  That will probably be my last post before I leave.  I am hoping to post at least once a day when I am there...but no promises!