stevenbunn Mon, 03/09/2015 - 11:21

Good Morning,

Good news for anyone wanting to comment on any of my blog posts. The registration/log in program has been tweaked so that those who want to post a comment may do so. Visitors who want to just read already posted comments, but not post a comment, need only hit the "comment" or "read more" buttons. There is no need to log in to read the blog and previously posted comments.

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Thanks for your patience.

stevenbunn Fri, 03/06/2015 - 15:51
One of Mark Donovan's small Luthier's Planes
This small Luthier's plane with it's laminated body and round bottomed profile is the tool I use to finish forming the seat saddles on my miniatures, after first roughing out the saddle with a gouge. The little plane is a shade over four and a half inches long, and has an iron one inch wide. The stock is laminated tiger maple and mohogany. Mark makes these planes in a number of widths. He is happy to do custom work if you need something specific. Mark is a craftsman whom I greatly respect. I am always curious what's going to emerge from his shop next.
Today he brought back the table skirts and legs of the communion table, which he had taken to his shop to carve. When I was awarded this job, I specificlly recommended that Mark do the carving. His part in the project balloned well beyound my expectations when the church design committee opted for a design that wrapped completely around the base of the table. As I assemble the table I will post pictures on this page.
Mark makes everything from black-powder flint lock rifles to guitars and violins. ( I still have violins on my to-do list for my next life time. It sure isn't going to happen sooner.) Mark's work can be seen on his website He can be contacted at <>. A quick additional note, if you are interested in hand crafted wooden hand planes please visit Mark's site. The variety offered are worth your time, and the photo quality is much better than my quick shot included with this post. I should have just copied one of his pictures. Oh well. Looking again at Mark's website brings to mind my standard joke that I tell at shows where I demonstrate chair-making. I always quip that I live in a village with twenty-five other cabinet-makers. When I count the number of friends in town who are cabinet-makers, home builders, timber-framers, boat-builders, luthiers, bowl turners, etc, etc, this joke isn't a joke. Thank God Mark doesn't do Windsor chairs. Have a great day.
stevenbunn Thu, 03/05/2015 - 07:40
A batch of miniature Windsor Chairs
Several years ago I had an article about my miniature chairs featured in Woodwork Magazine. To accompany the article I took photos of the entire process of constructing a miniature chair. Basically, the same as working on a full-sized chair except for the reduced scale. These are quarterscale versions of my Sack-back Windsor chair. I thought I would post a series of these pictures over the next few days.
In other news, Mark Donovan is bringing the carved parts of the communion table back tomorrow. Which means I need to get cracking on finishing that project. Mark is also carving the baptismal font. So I need to get some work-pieces together today, so he can take them back to his shop and start work carving them. The picture of the shop and snow pile, entered earlier in the blog, is out of date. The snow pile at the end of the drive is now so deep and so big that it has blocked one of the garage doors into the barn. There is nowhere to put snow anymore. I've got a meighbor with a tractor and bucket loader coming over this weekend to shift enough of the pile so that my wife can get her car out of the barn, and Greg has some place to push March's snow. Folks from away may not believe it, but in my experience the biggest snow falls of the year happen in March and April here in Maine. This is due to the flow of moister air moving up from the south at the start of Spring. I love winter in Maine, but can do without any more snow. But I know that's a vain hope. So I recite the old British infantryman's prayer, "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord God make us truly thankful." A wry jest in the face of doom. I hope everyone has a great day. Thank you for stopping by.
stevenbunn Tue, 03/03/2015 - 21:51
Another view of the hold-fast
For years I clamped the seat blanks of my miniature chairs directly to the top of the bench using the existing bench dogs. This had several draw-backs. The face of the dog could easily mar the sides of the blank. Requiring more effort on my part to sand out. The dogs themselves were in the way, both of my hands as I worked, and the chisel I carved with. I also had to reclamp the seat blank between the dogs repeatedly as I rotated the seat to carve it. So I came up with the clamping jig shown in these photos. The long lower platen secures the jig to the bench top, while at the same time keeping the bench-dogs well out of the work area around the seat. The upper block holds the seat with small L-shaped buttons that can be tightened or loosened as neccessary. The upper plate turns like a lazy-susan, so I don't have to keep unclamping, turning and then reclamping the seat blank as I carve. This clamp works great with only two drawbacks. The first has to do with working height. When clamped to the bench the saddle being carved was to low for me to carve comfortably.  I either have to bend over. Stooping over the work. Or squat uncomfortably in front of the bench. The need to raise the work up to a comfortable height is the main reason I decided that it made sense for me to build the mini-bench. I am still working on one thing. When I carve, I rest my hand next to the work-piece. In the course of carving, the side of my left hand or one of the knuckles repeatedly rubs against one or another of the buttons. By the end of a day of carving a batch of seats, I usually have a blister or raw spot on my hand. I'm still looking for a tweak to elimenate this problem. Good night.
stevenbunn Tue, 03/03/2015 - 21:02
View of hold-fast from another angle
stevenbunn Tue, 03/03/2015 - 20:59
Carving hold-fast for saddling miniature chair seats
stevenbunn Sun, 03/01/2015 - 08:29
Bench-screw handle profile
This is the turning profile I used on the handle of the bench installed on my mini-bench-screw. You are welcome to use it or pick any profile you like. I used this profile on my first Shaker work-bench built back in 1990-1992. It took awhile. I found the profile published in the Taunton Press's Work Bench Book. I have since then used the same profile on every wooden screw I've turned, from bench-screw to screws for hand-screw clamps. I have a thing about uniformity and the image of the shop visitors see. Small potatoes in some ways, but I like the sense of connected wholeness this gives.
A quick story about the earlier Shaker work-bench. At the time I was working for Thos. Moser as a cabinet-maker. Earlier I made a Roubo style bench. This never trully functioned as intended because at that time, 1986, I could not locate a source for the tradition hold-fasts that were used in place of modern bench vises to secure work stock to the bench.
When The Workbench Book came out, I fell in love with massive Shaker bench shown on the book's cover. I made the mistake of sharing this desire with she-who-must-be-obeyed, and was promptly smacked over the head with a verbal iron skillet. To quote, "You just built a work-bench! Why do you need another?" Why does a junkie need crack? The bench was beautiful and I wanted one. But, after repeated applications of the skillet, I reluctantly gave up on the idea. "Time passed, but not alot. Tom came over to my bench one day as I was working. I looked up and immediately noticed that he had the Workbench Book tucked under his arm. "Want to build a couple of benches?" he asked. A quick conversation led to an agreement. I would build two Shaker work-benches loosely based on the example shown in the Taunton Press book. I would provide the labor and work on the benches after, or before hours. Tom would provide the material, which being Moser, was naturally cherry. Thus the first Shaker bench came into my life. The design incorporated a timber-frame style of construction. Tom detailed his bench, the location of the doors and drawers, differently than I did on mine. But that was part of the fun. It was his bench which was photographed in the 1994 FWW article on Building A Shaker Bench. My half finished shop was to dark for photography at the time.
stevenbunn Sun, 03/01/2015 - 07:45
The min-bench vise's movable jaw
This drawing shows the layout of the front, or moving jaw, of the bench vise. One of the issues I inadvertantly created for myself was one of scale. I outsmarted myself once again. I drew the three construction drawings full size so that anyone wishing to make a similar vise for themselves would not have to fuss around to much. However to load these diagrams into the blog I had to reduce their size in Paint before inserting them in the blog. So one act cancels another. I just tried copying this image and reloading it back into paint to see if I could re-size it back to the original 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches. No luck.
The simple truth is that you can position the holes for the screws, bolts, and even the holes for the screw as you wish. The locations I used are somewhat arbitrary, and not based on anything but personal whim. Looking back, it might make sense to lower the height of the holes for the bench screw a little. I didn't leave alot of meat between the top of the threads and the top edge of the rabbet in the back side of the fixed jaw. This is compensated for by the rabbet being lag-bolted up against the bottom of the bench. If you intend to use a larger diameter tap and die set, I would definately drop the height of the hole a little. The main concern in laying out the multiple holes in the blocks that make up the jaw is that you don't cause one screw to interfer with another. One of the iron laws of physics, if there is such a thing as an iron law in physics these days. At least in the reality of my shop, given the multi-verse, you still can't put two things in the same space.
stevenbunn Sat, 02/28/2015 - 16:52
For those interested, here is a drawing giving the construction deals of the fixed jaw of the wooden vise made for my mini-bench
stevenbunn Fri, 02/27/2015 - 15:40
The assembled vise ready for use
Not much more needs to be said. I purchased small bench-dogs from Rockler. They are plastic. Bummer! They require 3/4 inch diamter holes a little over 1-3/4 inches deep to seat properly. But they come four to a package, and are reasonably priced. I leave the extra length of the garter long. This gives me purchase with my hands or a tightened twin-screw hand clamp to lever the the garter free from the mortise if I need to pull the garter out. Garter thickness is like Goldilock's porridge. To loose the garter falls out. To tight and the screw may bind and not turn freely. Just right is well just right. Sand or plane down an over-tight garter. Check the fit as you insert the garter and don't slam it in all the way until you are happy with the fit. If the garter is to loose, drill and insert a small screw through the inner face of the movable jaw and on into the body of the garter locking it it position.