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Thursday, 21 July 2011

David Barron visits Workshop Heaven

David Barron popped in today to drop off a copy of his new Dovetailing DVD and some Knew Concepts jewellers saws for me to try.

Man are these things light - but it's not just how light (120g vs 185g for our standard 5" jewellers saw) it's also how that weight is disributed. With a standard saw most of the weight is in the frame, resting on your index finger with 5" of mechanical advantage. With the Knew Concepts saw the majority of the weight is in the handle, so although it is only 1/3 lighter it actually feels about 2/3 lighter in the hand. They are also very stiff, so you don't get any compression of the blade on the forward stroke which is the biggest cause of blade fatigue.

Tension wise, they are about the same (although our standard adjustable frames do achieve a much higher tension than just about anything else on the market) with a heavier gauge skip blade installed what you really want to hear is a very short, high pitched 'plink', if it's still going 'pingggg' it's not tight enough.

The weight advantage makes the 8" version a no-brainer for me, the only disadvantage with a deep saw is the weight - take that away and you may as well just have one saw that will trim DT's in a 16 inch wide board. Having said that there will be those who don't want to stretch the extra few quid or never use boards wider than 10" so we will probably end up stocking both sizes.

All in all a very nice piece of kit. Essential? No. Best on the market? Yes.

Anyway, once I'd got over the whole 'David Barron - in my workshop - how cool is THAT!' thing, we had a really good chat about all sorts of tools and techniques. Here's a couple of top tips I picked up for freehand dovetailing.

Always engage the knife in the mark and then move the square to the knife. This is much more accurate than trying to align the square on your mark and then striking a line wherever it ended up.

When securing your board for sawing, use your dovetail marker to set the angle of the board. This way your saw is working vertically (as it was intended to do) and gravity is assisting accuracy rather than hampering it. Cant the board the other way to make the cuts on the opposite side of the tails.

David's DVD covers guided dovetailing - a foolproof way of achieving outstanding results. It is a well thought through technique, with guidance on how to make the necessary workshop aides and also has a very good aside on bench design and configuration. The quality of production and clarity of tuition are both outstanding and I am more than happy to recommend it.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A Grand Day Out!

Many thanks to all who came along to the Peter Sefton Furniture School open day on Saturday. It was a great day with plenty of demonstrations including Peter's live, public, review of the new Quangsheng 62 Low Angle Jack plane. I won't ruin the suspense for you, but as far as I'm aware this is the first time a new plane has been reviewed in front of a public audience, on some very challenging timber, by an independent expert suggested on a public forum, and then made available for members of the crowd to try out for themselves. The results will be published in Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine as well as on the various forums.

I was doing a bit of sharpening, showing some of the methods for honing trickier tools like cambered irons, skew chisels, fishtail chisels, shoulder plane irons and spokeshave irons with Richard Kell's honing guides. We also had some FAMAG drill bits available for inspection and copies of their new cataloge to hand out (if you'd like one just drop me an email and we'll pop it in the post). I love the way people's eyes light up when they see their first FAMAG drills.

Also demonstrating were Tom, Simon and Sarah from the brand new dedicated Festool dealer Intelligent Workshop Tools. These guys really know their stuff and have some seriously nice kit. Bob Jones (Bob the polisher) was teaching the dark arts of grain filling, staining and polishing, Russell Jones from Felder demonstrated the new Hammer A3-26. Chris Eagles and Paul Hodgson showed two highly skilled but very different approaches to woodturning, and Peter's excellent tutorials on handplaning and dovetailing gave visitors a feel for the sort of skills they can learn at the school and for Peter's crisply concise yet relaxed and friendly teaching style.

A fantastic free barbecue kept everyone topped up with first rate grub (Waitrose beef burgers - yummy) the weather held and the laid back atmosphere made it a really memorable day all round.

The event ended with the draw for a weeks training with Peter which, I'm delighted to say, was won by one of the people who entered through the site...!

If you couldn’t make it to the Open Day, you can read all about the Peter Sefton Furniture School in this article from F&C.

I'm already looking forward to next year's event; we will let you know as soon as the dates are announced.