Axe Working with Friends

It’s always a good time getting together with friends, old and new, taking your axes in hand and going at it for no good reason. And that is just the way it was this time down the French town. Of course it’s not the case that there was no good reason because we were there to demonstrate a good way of getting it done out on the streets for people.

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Not many of those had showed as Bernard and Ernest sawed up a good end grain surface and out a knick or knot or two.

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And then Yvon and Marc taking a turn on ends of the long cross-cut saw. In these cases no chainsaw will do, leaving its overly  roughed up surface there unsuitable for the clean lay-out lines got by ink and bamboo  .

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All in preparation, lets put it this way and say making a relatively safe place for axes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I could get in there having a go at setting clean lines out to out-line the beam within the tree, if I were to put it in metaphysical terms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy technique being nothing short of iconoclastic, my hair nothing short of catastrophic.

So, with all questions of personal grooming set aside for the moment we can get a’ chopping.

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Observant observers will notice a deviation of the notch under the axes in this picture compared to the previous notches further on up the stem. And that’s because it is being chopped another way, called the tree phase way or the trinity notch method, I haven’t officially decided which yet. Not a single notched at all but the culmination of three notches forming one which should be enough explanation to grasp the process involved.

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Three notches making one

This is useful on the occasion when the line lies deeper in from the outside edge than the length on the blade of the axe used for chopping. Because I am now convinced that the short bitted bandhacke is the way I find preferable to go about it this is what I use on those distances greater than 70 mm.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Which is handy because then I have the same axe in hand as I use for removing the bulk of the waste in-between notches and hewing to the line. It’s fine to have a bandhacke set up in a way suitable for left or right orientation just like the side-axe you use, though by no means necessary.

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Those side-axes are special tools to be cherished, elevated to a position of preeminence among tools, preserved only for use where they are uniquely suited which is not removing bulk wast or even any waste beyond what is necessary which means no more than 2, three at the most, millimeters at the surface. If you are rough hewing any further from the line than half a centimeter please consider not grabbing that sweet axe until you’ve gotten it down a few, or more, millimeters. It will pay off in lengthening the life of the keen edge we make so much effort to achieve on that one.

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Surfacing backwards out

My ambition and aspiration is to surface in tandem, me on the right-hand side of the stem and a companion wielding the axe with its flat side the opposite of mine simultaneously down the other side. Imagine it out there in front of a captive audience.

The Open Hearth

At this stage in the course of these events it’s all coming together so that when the time comes I’ll be ready to whip up a tasty meal here at the fire place. Not only that but I’ll be keeping warm and smoking multiple meat items above in the smoke chamber of the chimney at the same time using the same wood.

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Many pokers, tongs, haulers and lifters accompany various pots and pans which can withstand robust cooking conditions and require no washing. Hooks suspended from an iron bar integrated into the boezum construction by sometimes even decorative chain links where cooking pots hang at varying distance from the heating source for temporing and maintaining temperatures desired.

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A roast on the spit? I see, (and smell), it before me in my mind’s eye but first winter has to get here and a day could enough to carry out the slaughter and butchery of pigs now to small for providing sufficient provision. So much work it will be for sure but for now there’s time until then.

 

E.DB.

 

BDS

Wall Covering the Second Time ‘Round

I have ripped off the wall paper and linen backing that was there in the beginning exposing the plastered walls and support battens for the re-wall papering.

 

Re-papering begins with stretching linen across these battens.

 

To this permeable sub-strata is the plain brown backing paper pasted.

 

After which time the final more decorative and eye pleasing and also more costly wall-paper is hung also by pasting.

Please accept that this is an early technique of room beautification, cleverly conceived to achieve the most refined results under particular conditions.

 

BDS

(Guess I won’t get accepted at the entry points of Israel now).

The Pagans and the Christians are Friends

Working With Axes

Is it an irony of a high order to embellish an axe with the Tree of Life symbol, the Lebensbaum the Yggdrasil? Probably from one point of view or the other one  the answer could be yes.

Tree O' Life is certainly Christian but that says nothing because it is nearly a ubiquitous symbol of fecundity, origination, and continuity. The cross on the other hand  distinctly connotes Christianity. Tree O’ Life representations are nearly ubiquitous symbols of fecundity, origination, and continuity not limited in time or place. The cross on the other hand distinctly connotes Christianity with clear temporal and spacial implications.

On the face of it though, that is to say if we are to put ourself in the mind of the one who possibly made/forged, or was it the one who placed the order for? such an axe, (and we are going on then about that one who was actually breathing maybe even as late as say 1950 but which in theory might also have been 1450) no doubt the impuls was one of piety towards Jesus. But I always say that…

View original post 87 more words

The Banality of Shingle Making

When you have systemic disintegration, (election of tycoons, right-wing ascendancy, autocrats moving ahead and putting the screws on, institutional flailing about, all self-evident, nothing controversial about it), against the backdrop of the climate disruption we’ve generated for ourselves that I find really unpleasant personally, keeping a blog updated or in fact having the interest let alone motivation for something like that seems on a general level – the blogs, they just seem to keep coming –  a manifestation of that very dysfunction. On the other hand the work in and around here itself goes on apace, for now.

Update:

Boycot

Divest

Sanction

House Outside

To follow on with the result of this plaster reparation work in order to avoid creating ambiguity or unemphatic impressions by leaving that outcome aspect hanging there, what follows is a photographic display meant to give accurately a representation of the wall as it now stands, from top to bottom.

In the Spring one final handeling gets undertaken with a colored version of the lime brushed on above the section across the bottom which is a lime, trass mixture appropriate for that place set in the tar and then you won’t see those drips there like that anymore.

 

Always remember, more now than ever, BDS.

 

E.dB

A Telling of Lime

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Lime plaster when it freezes prior to a good cure.

I will take you back now, back to a time just about one year ago in fact. I remember it so clear, that Fall feel was well and truly here the way it is only when it’s October. October is the boarder month for the stuccador and so I queried mine if it wasn’t maybe to late to begin with plastering the wall and when he said it was no problem and once I had given the instruction to use lime and only lime and taken the responsibility for the consequences myself, he did his job.

Work of the professional stuccador.
Work of the professional stuccador.

But he should have listened to me because January’s four day freeze  blew out sections of the good plaster job.

Damage above the cellar opening.
Damage above the cellar opening.
And more extensive lime plaster catastrophic failure.
And more extensive lime plaster catastrophic failure.

Good, it gives me the chance sooner that anticipated to get that pristine wall looking the way it should, that is patched in a rough and amateuristic way and not so flat and uniform as the look of someone who knew what they were doing might make it, this is much to suspect and not acceptable. But I would never say that to the one who’s done it that way without knowing any beter.

But here it is October again and I am stuccoing. So strange you’d think another time would be called for. But no waiting, best get at it while the lime is fresh and not let it sit around till after winter, that would truly be risky.

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Giving a little poke there.

I prepared the underground this time with alum to retard water absorption from the initial lime mix. Just simply splashed it on from a bucket with a, I don’t know anymore how you call it, a veger.

But my set-up was the best of all. And quite stable if you believe it or not.

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Amateuristic staging I’m so proud of, getting me the height that’s needed.

BDS

Ernest

This Even More Dutch Window

We witness here in the Netherlands the cultural slaughterhouse since these last 30 years  and the most grotesque aspect is the gouging out of the eyes of  buildings replacing them with artificial ones. Not different from  Duitsland but they never had such nice windows there to begin with and the same can be said for France. There is no compromise room in this question, which makes it really a simple matter: Old windows have to be saved to the fullest extent.

Windows, or the eyes of a building. A repair and the glass and a replacement using hand-laid glass with details visible only in true-life.

 

The  distinction of a Dutch window from a certain period is they had been conceived of as bringing the inside out for public inspection or at least providing for the evidence that the inhabitants surely had no secrets, nothing that could not bear scrutiny in other words a port into the souls of the house’s occupants, their righteousness and purity, the windows open to the street and stretching practically to the eaves they pressed the passer-by to look in and see for themselves  the orderliness of the household and by extension the people living there who had had great confidence in there complete exhibitionism. Even to this day a stray glance at a passer-by will likely lead to a defiant yet ever so defensive  invitation for open inquiry into the observed persons piety. They have nothing to hide and dare you to question this fact.

More positively, leaving the Calvinistic oppressiveness eating our dust, the windows have developed remarkable proportion and give the gables a sense of openness and lightness, just as windows should. All the more cause to reject the disproportion and heaviness of thermopane replacements.

Wavy glass
Wavy glass

I manage to somehow capture some of the character of the old glass as I took this shot looking out which you can see as the angle steepens when you look at the upper left corner of the window.

Because the window frame had rotted,  and would twist when lifting it open I once broke the pane so after I fixed the wood I took the glass to have it fused back with a strip of lead in the way normal leaded glass gets done and flipped it bottom to top before resetting.

Fixed glass pane
Fixed glass pane

 

There probably is a trick for making photos of glass because mine sure don’t give a very adequate image of the old pane on the left with its wavy surface that distorts any image on the opposite side and its green tint that comes from adding lead to the pre-molten sand mix, and the trapped air bubbles. I did manage to catch one prominent bubble though, sorry for you that you can’t get the in-person effect.

Despite the messy residue from the glass putty a bubble in line with the radiator valve is just to be made out.
Despite the messy residue from the glass putty a bubble in line with the radiator valve is just to be made out.

 

BDS

Ernest

 

 

This Dutch Door

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Gerald has kindly sent me these photos and if I don’t up post them the work will get less notice than it deserves. It goes to show once again that I am never done being surprised by such incredible beauty of Dutch historical (cause what goes on here today in the field is a kind of sickness) carpentry in all its forms, (with the exception of the pompous, rich, classical stuff with columns, architraves, porticos … which has no character,  no identity, that is made to make you feel your non-worth and for exalting ideologies and non-existent spooky supernatural figures and usually in the name of fake postmortem rewards for good behavior. I am out fight this and besides, how boring can it get!)

This on the other hand  is great. The first thing to catch my eye are the rounded off batons used to close off the joints between the planks.Image 8-3-16 at 11.49 AM (6) My guess is these are the off-cuts from the sides when the planks were cut down which in itself lead to yet another interesting feature, the tapering planks as opposed to planks sawn against a guide with parallel sides, placed in alternating directions. This way much material gets saved. The rip cuts follow the wane edge of individual boards taken from the bolle.Image 8-3-16 at 11.49 AM (1)

Here is the closure mechanism also made from the same material cut from the board edges, hardly shaped at all, used once again, in that form as it came from the early processing of the stem. We can speculate that even the handle of the grip has been made from a branch of that same tree, and then wish we could take hold of it ourself and test it out.Image 8-3-16 at 11.49 AM (3)

I see at the edge of the tarred exterior plank traces left by an axe used to fit the door once it had been hung there.

In their effort to not only make the building more beautiful but protect it, or give themselves the perception they were protecting the construction, the outside of the poplar planks got a layer of tar. Well, unfortunately it’s a layer of the kind of tar which is a byproduct of the industrial use of coal burning but we can choose that tar taken from wood instead of that one.
Image 8-3-16 at 11.48 AMOr use nothing at all as on the inside which has simply been planed smooth and then burnished through use over its hundred year or so lifetime.

Just a word about poplar as I see it. It has gotten a bad name it terms of construction and carpentry uses but used with some forethought this has become a favored wood of mine and I’m looking forward to extending and expanding my exploitation of this wood further and further.

 

B.D.S.

Ernest duBois

The Old and The Older

The old, windows in my front room that need reparation. The older, wood I will use to spice in where rotted sections are removed.

There is just no alternative to it, this old-growth conifer wood out of the pacific northwest. Wood so dense and consistent that it can be like planing plastic, but then plastic that has grown itself over hundreds of years in harsh yet ideal conditions and gives off such a good smell when you cut into it, is hard and yet cuts easily leaving a glass like sheen as a result.

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Dense old-growth conifer wood

What a shame that it is a resource of the past, exploited beyond sustainable use by industrial capitalists, in reality stolen for the sake of money.

But when we run across some in our work, it’s time to make a good use of it and most of all enjoy this great material.

Getting on with Pink

The initiation picture is a fake, made with one of the gimmick options of my simple digital camera. I imagine that in  films they use similar visual effects, and very successfully I might add to it.

I live in a place where I have always been struck by the use of color in buildings of a particular type, a type that above all interests me, that is, it will usually be a dwelling, simple, local in character and materials made from people who worked with their hands often making things or exploiting the fruits of nature and then getting money for doing it, grubby capitalists true but then capitalists of a certain kind, largely unknown in these days. Well, kind of like this farmhouse

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Restored Farmhouse*

Or even like this fisher’s house

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Fisherman’s house*

Reproductions it’s true but then done with some degree of authenticity or another one. That is to say for example in the blue and yellow house the colors at least can probably be traced back to some original paint. From there probably the museum personnel went to the shop with their sample and had some Sikkens mixed to match, or it’s how I imagine it in any case.

I did the research using the time-tested methodologies in coming up with the color for my front room, what will become known to me anyway as the, “mooi kamer” or the “beautiful room” where special attention is paid to getting it that way.

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The paint scheme known as “monochromatic”

At this point ceiling and bedstead wall have their coating of paint more or less the way it will appear in the final analysis. No shading or highlighting the various elements is the way I like it so much, anything more suggesting an expenditure of way to much thought on the matter what some might even say a contrivance.

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Paint inside, untouched and original.

Also the wood work is getting got back into shape in as far as some had rotted or otherwise needed replacement always making retaining as much of the original material as I can or want the answer to the first question that arrises, what to do next?

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Trimmings all moulded

The apparent reparation of window, its jamb and sill, well these words really don’t do the original Dutch names for the elements justice – only an approximation to give the outsider a sense he or she may be able to contend with – and then the covering of the lower part of this brick wall with the simple wainscot much the same as it was before but with certain liberties taken, for example on the vertical profiling.

BDS

Ernest Dubois

 

 

 

*Nederlands Openluchtmuseum

“Like Milk”

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So fine to take the milk that I’m getting from the mother goat and after giving shares to the cat, the chickens and the dog making some paint up for the clothings rack.

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An old drying rack I once pulled out of a dumpster

Having the milk separate and then skimming the thick part off the top helps reduce the strong smell that can emanate for the first week while it cures, but it’s not necessary as far as I’m concerned.

I use a pigment used to stain the rumps of ewe sheep as an indicator the ram has done his job. Well, it’s a cheap one and one I picked up and have for the occasions as necessary, this time with the addition of a bit of kalk which intensifies the color effect.

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Goat milk, blue pigment, mix it to a paste

Don’t forget to do your best and make up a sample in order to make the best judgement of the end results.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, and if you as a reader of things here find this whole concept extremely interesting my videos channel has interesting and informative videos of me mixing many different colors into many different binding agents.

 

BDS

 

duBois

More, “Van de Kammer”

It is tempting for me to lay the claim that after preparing my material I have stacked it carefully in a dry, darkened corner out of the way in order to give my wood the time it needs to acclimatize prior to installation when the truth of the matter is, other things came up to divert my good intentions of getting the front room finished so the family does not constantly end up cramming itself into the smaller room for that time at home spent in togetherness. So much for well intended motives and good planning and preparation.

Here I am back at it again. Pulling out the profiled oak wainscot material and putting it in its place.

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Before

The wall does suffer from dampness and I hope re-plastering the outside with lime will allow it to dry sufficiently from now on. Further what you are looking at is the nailer attached to the brick for hanging the wainscot and more interesting the original baton for attaching a linen mesh under-ground as backing for the wallpaper. Also the original lime plaster carrying its own not uninteresting signs of past use patterns of this room. It is a real shame how so much of this can and does get discarded into the dust bin of history in a typical domestic renovation job. The truth is people are most apt to respond with an insincere, “How interesting” a shrug and then, “Trash it for me will ya.”

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The installation under way

I got no bag of tricks or anything up my sleeve for executing this work, it’s not the kind of work I do so much that I need such a bag.

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Lacking only in its baseboard
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Absolutely no sand paper.

Sand paper not needed because no power router got used, only a shard of glass to make that last profile to the right there.

BDS

 

E.dB.

Splitting

I had wanted to give my latest posting-up, this one, the title, “Pilluing to the Hilt” but as things evolve it has gotten another equally intriguing title.

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A thick, bent slab, wrenching itself to pieces.

Out of my stack of material I hauled this one into the workplace to begin one more bent brace. It has developed what I call a significant splitting suggesting to me that I may want to go ahead and complete the natural consequence of the release of internal  tensions freed by sawing.

Glut & commodore @ hand
Glut & commodore @ hand, my splitting can begin

Looking at the natural split, it is clear where things will end up with just a little encouragement from me and my helpers, glut and commodore, axe and froe, with highly usable wood left for the braces I seek.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And it is so, as the crack exits the side with plenty wood to spare.

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Only held up by a few fibers easily severed from on top with a small axe that’s got a long enough reach, so handy for getting down into these splits

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Using a froe.

From the other direction where the split has begun, I pry it wider open with froe easing it open by cutting through remaining fibers with axe.

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A central section clear and strong.

And I have removed weakened sections and a full length of full strength- that is to say completely intact structure – is left to me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASawn through the middle the separate brace forms begin to emerge.

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Axed to the right thickness and at the same time given a Finnish finish, waves within waves.
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A rough placement

The surface created like this is crude and yet suggests interesting possibilities to my eye.

BDS

Ernest duBois

Axe Work (mostly)

Well no, no trees  getting chopped down, somebody’s already done that by the time the wood gets into my grubby hands. I do take an axe to it after that though, getting it shaped upOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This piece from my firewood stack will make two braces nicely.

The Set-up

Getting level according to the level.

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Center or hart line
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The set-up all set up

It’s a way of working that allows much freedom in forms.

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Transferring points on a line.

So suitable for a more relaxed kind of work but still, you know, it’s wielding an axe.

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Axe leaves a mark

But when it gets called for there can be no objection to getting the saw in hand and going at it.

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Many techniques get taken up, not only chopping.

Mortices will get chopped and that, in part will get done with the kreuzaxt, as my German neighbors like to say it.

Other parts will see and experience little or no axe work but still they can hardly be diminished because of it.

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Struts all tenoned and draw bored, pairings drawn and carved for reassembly.

Maybe something nice about braces is their sheer transportability.

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One assembly gets a fitting at the bench.
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Sizing up for a diminished housing.

Housing things, somehow it gives a comforting feel, if you know what I mean. Still, I’ll never house to the full extent.

Getting back to axes, or getting the axe back in my hand, the Americans have a way of vulgarizing so many things, ok I’m not so proud so here goes. Some “veneering” as they say.

 

Constraints on hand means assemblage in stages  which means only partial fulfillment and a sense of delayed gratification but who’s complaining as long as there is more axe work ahead.

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Sliding it all together with a temporary pin in there.

With two down and five more to come plenty of good work left for me on this one?

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Two sets

 

BDS (fuck you Mario Cuomo)

Ernest.

Curved Pieces

…curved pieces from straight wood.

This is not normally a good idea, cutting through many fibers, exposing end-grain to let in moisture and the beginning of wood degradation. It’s what the boat builders have learned over the eons and why my sawer has some of that wood in a pile round the back for them to choose from.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shapes and arcs are specific and so when you got the knowledge you can look through  the pieces and you have visualized already just where they will go.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The boat builder can read the codes embedded and make perfect sense out of a stack of twisted branches…

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…and stems.

But that’s not me, my desires are more general, I just want stuff that’s not straight mostly for the effect though practicality comes into play as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sawer has sawn the stems I have indicated will suit me fine, to dimensions I can get to play with.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And at home I have my own wood stack out the back and decide it might be a good thing to try out with one good piece lying there some years now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExcept my methods are more free-handed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI do come away about with what I expectedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the beginnings of something promising.

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Ridge Beam

What began as a tree, got to me from the lumber yard as a beam 5,5 meters long, 7,5 cm thick and 220 mm wide, was sawn up in two, flipped and joined at the ends to become my new ridge beam 11 meters long, 75 mm thick and ca 110 mm wide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA ridge beam stretches into the distance.

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Joined in the middle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemnants of a snap-line showing the track I ripped along.

Its splicing joint.
Its splicing joint.
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Wedged with hard wedges

 

Update:

The measures you’ve got to not take all to literally otherwise you might wonder a bit. Well I don’t use numbers in the joinery work and my tape measure only goes to 10 meters.

I Am the Builder of My Own Shed

Shed or shack or hut or out-building, personally I can never have enough in and around my life. And that is my expectancy. Anyway, it seems like something that is constantly keeping me busy whether I like it or not.

The basic construction hinges off this cross pattern, braced and with a continuous ridge beam tying it together. Simple enough but for the sake of practice I diagram it on the workshop floor and then transfer vital positions onto the irregular components I have assembled.

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Scribing off the floor with my plumb bob.

The lay-out got done mostly with sumitsubos, red ink for primary indication and black to fill things in and then from the two dimension to three the plumb-bob and line make the transfer indications for mortices and tenons which I cut and chop.

The poles get planted to a depth of 80 cm in the ground but take some trimming down before the diameters correspond with my post-hole digger.

BDS

 

E.dB

Douchebag Sumitsubo

Original material for the Sumitsubo comes into play.
Original material for the Sumitsubo comes into play.

I have gotten a big improvement in use and results of my sumitsibo without any apparent unwanted or negative consequences. Now, that’s what I call a real profit!

A list bag and some silk
A little bag and some silk

I had found these in the drawer of an old tansu that I was fixing up but just kept them there as they were for the time being till now. Then I changed out the old silk and just went ahead and plopped them in for the heck of it, seeing what might happen.

A re-freshed ink bowel.
A refreshed ink bowel.

 

In the end the silk line gets inked better and the drips prevented that can and do splatter all over the surface of your fine wood.

 

BDS (It’s probable that in France I’d be getting sent up the river for that simple act of expression, oh well).

Ernest duBois

Axes are Back Home

On that same business trip, that is the trip was for taking care of business, I stopped in on

the miller preparing up barrel staves.

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Riven barrel staves

The growth pattern was a surprise to me ’till I learned there are different standards depending on what goes in there.

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Fast growth rate

And what I was looking at were the stave material from which whiskey barrels would be made.

At the mill they were also sawing

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Sharpening workshop

A visit to a fellow shingle maker down there where they also choose for chestnut though their way is not my way.

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The vertical stand, 100 years I got told and I believe it too.

A sort of stock knife is the way they make all those fancy shaped shingles.

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Shinglemaker’s stock knife

Of course we went to the smid to get some worn out tools recharged with good steel and while there Bernard fixed me up a nice gift.

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Bernard getting some power welding in on the spot

From off that day Bernard was starting in on full-time work as blacksmith in his new forge. He’ll be working on some mix of production: axes, knives, bark spuds and other cutting and woodworking tools, beyond this work, because let’s face it, all the kids are doing that these days, Bernard will specialize in repairing old cutting tools where his expert understanding of all the steels will set him apart. I myself have left him with three old axes.

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old high quality stock

At the weekend we had one bad-weather & one good-weather day, one crooked, stringey-fibered, tough old oak stem and one fine stem that got worked on.

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A bit of a show with wood

We did make our own conclusion in agreement with the two old sawyers who had stopped by to discuss the matters and that is oak will work better in all aspects once it has had two years of aging in the woods after felling, in the same way as a good Scotch Whiskey will after time in those fast-grown-oak barrels.

 

BDS,

 

E.dB.

I Stow My Axes

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Bundled and Boxed Axes
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Things that go along with axes too

Down south of Paris this April, the market at Montmarillon is an annual event and I like taking part and doing my part. Mostly a chance for me to get to know and mingle with some of the highly skilled smids of France who are more and more taking up the fashioning of axes of the highest qualities and utility. It is where Bernard will announce the start of his new undertakings at the forge. I’m looking forward to the particulars to be mentioned.

 

BDS (for example Israeli avocados in the supermarket)

 

 

E.dB.