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Chilli-head
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default The Christmas workshop

Post by Chilli-head on 6th December 2019, 1:10 pm

OK, this is a Christmas present, but I don't think the recipient will be peeking in here.  I've spent a few hours making this:

The Christmas workshop 20191205_200600
The Christmas workshop 20191205_200621

It's a Japanese style woodworker's mortice marking gauge, or Kama-keshiki.  The two steel cutters can be set to scribe a pair of lines parallel to the edge of the workpiece. They are both locked in place by the brass thumbscrew, and can be fully retracted into the stock for protection when not in use. The wood is some sort of exotic, unknown to me but formerly part of the top of a built in bookcase in a friend's house.  It is really rather heavy, so hopefully hard wearing.  Never made one of these before, but a quick test seems to suggest it works.
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Post by freebird on 7th December 2019, 12:51 pm

That looks, as usual, absolutely beautiful, CH. Lucky, lucky recipient.
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Post by FloBear on 7th December 2019, 5:28 pm

What a lovely piece of kit. You are a very talented craftsman, CH.
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Post by Chilli-head on 9th December 2019, 11:47 am

Thanks.  I hope the recipient likes it too.  I think there is something very pretty about shiny metal against dark wood, especially for tools.  Rosewood is the finest I think, but the dark, hardwearing hardwoods are dense because they are slow growing, so many are now illegal to supply in the UK and only available as reclaimed.  I was lucky my friend saved that slab for me, it may have been in that house 50-100 years, so it will be pretty well seasoned by now !

Talented, hum.  I like to make things as tidy as I can, and have some pretty good rules for that:

- Plan before you start.  Anticipate what will go wrong - splintering when a drill bursts out the back of a piece of wood for example.  Work out the best order of attack so mistakes can be hidden, or at least don't spoil something that has taken a lot of work already.
- Go slowly when you're unsure.  If need be stop for a coffee and a think.
- Work a lot with your hands.  Feel is as important as looking, and you get the feel by doing. Over and over.
- Be very self-critical.
- Be prepared to scrap bits and start again.

Now, the really skilled craftsmen are so good they don't need to pause for thought and coffee.  They hardly need to look what they are doing, their hands work on autopilot.  I chatted to a guy making besoms once, he conversed, mostly making eye contact, while making a broom better and faster than most people could giving it their full attention. There is an economy of movement too, that means the job gets done with no unnecessary effort.  The trouble is, real craftsmen like that are so good that the layman sees it, and they make the job look easy !  Only when you come to try it do you realise it is not easy, but there is a lot of skill on display.

In my case, it just takes me ages ...
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Post by freebird on 9th December 2019, 9:19 pm

Don't do yourself down CH. Those skilled people such as you describe have made thousands of items, and much of their learning has now become part of their motor memory. Presumably you haven't made thousands of Japanese style mortices, so therefore it requires thought, care and cups of coffee.
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Post by FloBear on 10th December 2019, 5:12 pm

Wot freebird said, CH!
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Post by Ploshkin on 15th December 2019, 2:03 pm

... and I third everything said so far. That is a beautiful piece of work Chilli Head.

Do any of you watch The Repair Shop? It's the only tv programme I would bother to actively seek out. I really like Will who specialises in wood. I've noticed that whenever he gets a piece of wood in his hands he smells it. I'm sure you smell your wood too CH.
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Post by freebird on 15th December 2019, 10:05 pm

Ooh yes I love the repair shop. Think I mentioned it before on this forum. My two favourites are Steve, the clock repairer and Kirsten who does ceramics. I am completely in awe of their exquisite work and skill.

Also enjoy watching the bookbinder chap, especially the recently shown episode repairing an album. They are all skills with which I am conversant, so able to enjoy from a different point of view.

Edited to add: sorry to hijack your thread, CH.
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