stevenbunn Sat, 01/21/2017 - 11:53

Carving totes for my new chairmakers plane


Shaping handles for my new chairmakers plane.
I spent Inaguration Day glued to the TV set in the living room. I was supposed to be working on a batch of new totes for the chairmakers planes I am making. I didn't want to miss the news so I brought my work inside and shaped these handles while sitting on the couch. Our pet rabbit loved the shower of wood shavings that rained down around my feet. Luckily, I got the living room rug swept and vacuumed before Ann got home from work.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Fri, 01/13/2017 - 17:04

Finally, After a lot of Trial and Error, a chair-maker plane with a tote


The final design of my chairmakers plane with tote.
Visitors to this site may know that I have been working off and on over the last few years to see if I could successfully design and build a chairmakers plane that had a real handle (tote).
I have used a small chairmakers plane in my shop for over twenty-two years. The small chairmakers plane has a 1-1/4" dia. wooden ball mounted behind the iron. The little plane fits comfortably in my hand  Easy to hold and work with, but after a day carving out saddles on three or four seat blanks, a bit of a strain on the heal of my palm and wrist. For a number of years I considered whether adding a traditional tote was possible, or even desirable, as doing so would necessitate increasing the length of the plane. Would a longer plane body fit the variety of curves found in a typical seat saddle as well as the smaller version I've used for so long? Without making a protype to try out, my concerns about a larger plane's performance couldn't be tested. There was nothing else to do but make one and see how it performed. My first effort was a razee pattern round bottomed compass plane. This plane ultimately proved to be too heavy and ungainly. Prototype Mark I didn't feel right in my hands. I never bothered to grind a blade for the first prototype as the plane body didn't meet my expectations. In addition to technical performance I wanted a design that was pleasing to my eye. I wanted a handle both visually attractive and physically comfortable. My collection of 19th Century hand-saws with their variety of handle patterns led me down another rabbit hole. I found patterns on-line for many different handle profiles. These can be printed off full-sized so that you may use one as a template for making a new handle appropriate for repairing an antique saw with a damaged handle. I used these profiles as patterns for possible plane handles.
After the razee fiasco, I experimented with mounting my handles to a plane body with a sliding dove-tail joint. This worked really well so this technique is used to fit the tote on the plane pictured above.  And, dispite my inital hopes most of the more attractive traditionalsaw handles proved less comfortable than I hoped. The long horns on some profiles are meant to help you grip the saw in regular usage, but limit the range of hand motion needed in a plane that cuts in an arc. I haven't quite given up on several of the hand-saw handle profiles. Time being what it is, this may have to wait until my second life-time.
After all  this I was back at the point of using a standard pattern tote a'la your basic Stanley bench plane handle profile.
My prototype Mark III was designed to match the length of a Stanley #2 bench plane. I wanted the plane to as short as possible. The original #1 bench plane is admittedly smaller still, but I thought the handle of the #1 to be to small for continuous use over the course of a day. I used a template of the #2's tote, but beefed up the bottom to allow for a dove-tail profiled pin to be cut on the tote's bottom edge. This prototype worked really well and I thought I had come up with a design that was a keeper. I demonstrated its use when carving saddles in several seat blanks at the Common Ground Country Fair last September. I had designed the third prototype to be used without a handle or knob on the front of the plane. Two days of grasping the front of the plane's stock with my left hand convinced me that a front knob would be a very good idea, The other thing I realized was that the 7-9/16 inch long plane body could still be shortened by 3/8" to a 1/2", and still allow me to add a front knob. The resulting plane is pictured above.
The new plane is 7-1/16 inches in length, 2-1/8 inches in width and 1-3/4 inches in thickness at the widest point of the bottom's arc. The 1-1/2 inch wide blade is ground from O-1 tool steel which is 1/8 inches thick. After roughing out the profile of the bottom curve on the band-saw, I shape the rounded sole with a spokeshave. I like the spokeshave's tool marks on the sole of the plane. I find the look very attractive and the plane is after all handcrafted, so why not leave evidence of its construction. I will have to see if potential buyers feel the same way as I do.
This batch of planes uses a laminated stock with quartersawn cherry as the infill and hard maple as the cheeks. I used hard maple for the wedge because I want something that can take a lot of wear over time. I have a number of boards of 8/4 quartersawn beech, which gives me the option of using that species of wood when I make the next batch of handled chairmakers planes. I am also open to suggestions from anyone interested in one of these planes.
I will be listing these planes for sale on the PLANES page of this website and on ebay in the near future. Pricing for the moment is up in the air.
Thanks for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 01/08/2017 - 10:58

An Early View of the Shop

The proud builder posing in front of the completed shop.
The exterior appearance of the shop is that of a storey and a half cape. The down side of the traditional cape roof's shallow over hang is that rain is easily blown in under the door when the wind is in the right 'wrong' direction. Hence the scrap piece of plywood leaning on the front wall behind me in the picture. I pulled the plywood up in front of the doors to help shed water dripping of the roof when I wasn't using the shop. Shortly after this photo was taken I added an enclosed entry bump out with double doors to the building.
The ship-lap siding was put on the summer following the one when we first put up the building. I spent the winter in between wiring the building and installing insulation. The windows were installed at the same time as the siding. The doors were a freebee from a chicken house a friend was tearing down.
The shop was built on a very small budget. Basically my Army Reserve summer camp earnings over three years. The site was cleared one summer. The concrete pad the second. The Gulf War intervened. I was called up but ended up not going overseas. The frame was raised in the summer of 1992. So this photo probably dates from 1993.
I formally hung out my shingle in May 1994, although I had been using the shop pretty much since it had been closed in and electricity connected.


stevenbunn Sun, 01/08/2017 - 10:26

Building the Shop

Framing the Shop
I was going through some of my early pictures and came across several photgraphs taken while I was building my shop. The foot print of the building is 30'x 50'. The ceiling height is 10'. My first 'shop' was in the basement of a small town house. Everything had to fit up a small stair-case or slide out through a small back window. I swore to never again build stackable book cases without being able to fully assemble them in a future shop. The foot print of the building was based on having semi-seperate bench and machine spaces. I also allowed for the ability to handle long 16 foot boards when laying out the location of my shop machinery. For the most part my early assumptions about how work would flow through the shop have borne out.
stevenbunn Wed, 12/28/2016 - 16:01

Gottshall Tall-case Clock Hood with Door Installed


The Gottshall pattern clock hood with the finished door installed.
I prefer the Franklyn Gottshall's method of constructing the door for a Tall-case clock hood, over the method shown in plans published by both Lonnie Bird and Eugene Landon. On the plans for their doors, as published in FWW, tenons cut on the ends of the door's arched top fit into mortises cut in the side stiles. The stiles run long. When the top arc is drawn onto the glued up door frame, the curve cuts across the upper ends of both stiles. Gottshall makes the wide top rail of the door extend the full width of the door opening. The side stiles have tenons cut on their upper ends which seat in mortises cut in the lower edge of the top rail. This strikes me as better both visually and as a construction technique.
Gottshall's door overlaps the front of the hood opening with a 5/16 inch dia. lip. The radius is carried around the arc of the curved top rail. It does not show clearly in this photo, but when seen with the naked eye the rounded top edge of the door adds to the shadow line making the door to case gap at the top of the door look exaggerated. When I use this door pattern again, I think I will not cut a radius on the edge of the top rail, at least until I've seen how the door gap looks.
Finally, given the high cost of Ball and Ball tall-case clock hood hinges, I think I will grind my own from brass bar stock picked up a the hardware store. Gottshall gives hinge dimensions in his drawings.
Thanks for stopping by. STB
stevenbunn Sun, 12/25/2016 - 14:43

Building a Door for a Franklyn Gottshall Tall Case Clock Hood


This tall-case clock hood is based on plans published by Franklyn Gottshall.
After building and fitting a door to the hood of the Lonnie Bird pattern clock case I built several years ago, I decided it was time to complete a door for this clock hood. Plans for this clock case were published by Franklyn Gottshall. As I have only photocopies made of the clock's plan pages, I can't tell you which of Gottshall's books of measured drawings these plans come from. The door frame was glued up in early December. Then I came down with the flu. I was flat on my back or sitting in a chair for two weeks. Needless to say we got a very late start on decorating for Christmas. I didn't get a tree until Wednesday of last week. This is the first Christmas season in years where we didn't go over to our nieghbor Brad Blake's farm to cut a tree. Time. lack of energy. and neither of the boys around to make the trip special made me opt for a tree purchased off a parking lot in town. Since dinner today is just for Ann and I, Andrew being in Seattle and Ian cooking Christmas dinner at the Highlands, I am baking pork pie for the two of us.
With a few spare minutes available between opening presents and starting the pork pie, I slipped out to the shop and took this picture.
To fill the empty dial frame I set one of the antique hand-painted clock dials I have picked up over the years in the hood. This one has obviously lost a lot of its original paint. I was thinking of sending it to Angela Piacine to be restored. I hestitated about following through on this because the female figure in the upper right spandral is a 'pink lady.' Every clock dial made between roughly 1760, when engraved dial faces started to fell out of fashion and into the 1830's, was hand painted. Most of the painters are unknown. There is one unknown artist whose works can be identified because he always painted one of the female figures, representing either the muses or in this case the continents, pink. I ended up with a dial face probably painted in the 1770's by this unknown painter. Given the dial's probable historic connection to this lost artist, I am not going to have the dial repainted.
Enjoy the day with your families. Thanks for looking in. STB


stevenbunn Sat, 12/24/2016 - 16:37

I would like to take the opportunity to wish anyone dropping by this site a very Merry Christmas!

As ever, thank you for coming by. STB

stevenbunn Sat, 12/03/2016 - 18:37

Fitting Tall-case Hood doors take three- Some time you have to do things a few times before getting the hang of it.


A perfect fit, but still shy of perfection
I started making Tall-case clocks with the hope of making a product that I could sell for big money and therefore make fewer pieces of furniture wlile making more money. Then the stock market crashed and tall-case clocks went out of fashion. As I said in an earlier post, when my local antique store had a complete, beautiful, all the bells and whistles English Turban top clock from 1780 listed for $5,000.00, I don't have a chance in hell of selling a reproduction clock for $10,000 or $12,000.00. But this realization dawned on me after I started teaching myself to make clock cases. I always think that I have to make a piece of furniture several times before I get it right. This flat-top clock is basd on plans by Lonnie Bird published a number of years ago in FWW. He teaches classes about building this clock. I built the clock case from the plans in FWW.
Thirty years ago I applied for a job, any job at any rate of pay, at the Irion Shop in Pailoi, PA. While there (they didn't hire me), I saw that they were building eight Philadelphia style Chippendale clock cases. All were pre-ordered for $12,800.00. The price was for the case alone. The clock mechanism and hand painted dial face or faces were additional. This is work that has haunted my dreams for years. One of the sights that made such an impression while at the Irion shop was a show room filled with examples of all the clock hoods they offered. Most of the decoration, and hence the work is wrapped up in the re-movable hood. That was a really good sales idea, I have found that most customers can't really see the piece of furniture they want when looking at a drawing. No matter how detailed. I started working on some clock prototypes based on existing plans, with the long term goal of making a number of examples of different hoods based on photos of antique clocks advertised in Antiques Magazine.
The first door I made for this case was horrible. The dial opening in the inner dial board was out of sync with the bottom door rail by 3/8 inch. I have no good explaination for that disaster. Scribing the assembled door to the opening revealed an oval top arch after I cut the final arch on the top. Think egg shape not anthing symmetrical. I threw the offending door on the scrap pile intending to destroy my disaster before anyone made comments about it. Still, it hung around for years. I couldn't show it off, but I had to much work invested. Some time last month I realized that if I added a 3/8 inch wide filler piece to the bottom rail, I could eliminate the difference in width between the bottom rail of the door and the clock face suround behind the door. With this done I could both raise the door so it was in line with the inner dial board, then recut the square corners at the top of the door, followed by rescribing and cutting the door's top curve of the arch.
And the problem with the reworked hood door. The glued on bottom filler piece stood out like a sore thumb. There was nothing to do but make a completely new door. The new door is pictured at the top of the page. Its about 90 percent perfect. I will tell you about my struggles with the last 10% in another post. I have typed to much, and dinner waits.
Thank you for dropping by. STB
stevenbunn Sat, 11/26/2016 - 19:34
Turkeys at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving turkeys in the apple trees
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday. Its a bit of a long story, but here goes. The kitchen stove's oven failed earlier this month. That stove was 27 years old so something like this had to be expected. The hassle began with the fact that we finally put an upscale counter top on kitchen base cabinets I made in the dark ages. The old stove was only 24 inches wide, and the existing opening in the new counter top would only allow us to buy a stove of the same width. We ended up special ordering a new stove through a local dealer. A projected delivery date based on a 7 to 10 day wait, naturally stretched longer. The new stove arrived at 5:00 on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. My installer arrived Friday morning at 7:30 AM.
Luckily the new stove was quickly hooked up. I started making stuffing around 10-ish. The turkey went in the oven at noon. As I was killing a little time typing the Thanksgiving greeting written in the previous post, I looked up out the window and saw a flock of wild turkeys marching across the field immediately behind the house. I yelled for Ann to come take a look. She snapped this photo with her phone. I counted over twenty birds in the group. The turkeys seem to have a circular route which they follow when searching for food, which brings them by on a regular interval.
Thanks for stopping by. STB
stevenbunn Thu, 11/24/2016 - 08:49

A quick note to wish everyone a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Enjoy the day, the people around you, and life in general.

God Bless Everyone, STB