Friday, December 19, 2008
Basswood and Buttocks
I recently began work on a rather large commission. Not huge by any means, but big enough that I'm planning the build to postpone final assembly as long as possible. This piece will we be as big as my Roubo bench when I'm finished, and that takes up a lot of room in my small shop.
The good thing about this piece is that it's going to include lots of carving. Why is that good? It means I get to use basswood. Basswood can spoil the hand tool woodworker. Carver's love basswood for it's easy working characteristics. And that's why I love to plane basswood. There are seven carved panels on this piece.
After milling them with power machinery, I finished up the show side with my #4 smoothing plane. What sheer planing joy! Basswood planes like a dream, and I can go for ages without touching up my plane iron. Heck, I've built entire pieces of basswood and only honed my planes once, maybe twice. Like I said, it will spoil the handtool woodworker.
Shavings from one panel.
And now to the second topic of this post. This is my new favorite bench stool. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.
I picked this up at a garage sale this summer and have been using it almost every time I'm in the shop. Okay, it was my own garage sale, but so what? This little stool is actually a shower seat, thus the holes. (In case you're wondering, it's actually brand new, and never used in a shower with bare buttocks). It's the place that I prefer to rest my back side when doing any shop task that requires sitting. I often see fine, craftsman-made shop stools in woodworker's shops, but I never had the time to make one. And this seat is so comfortable that I doubt I ever will.
The tubular aluminum legs are height adjustable with small spring-loaded bullet-shaped pins, and work nicely. The rubber tipped legs provide enough grip to keep the seat from sliding around.
One of my favorite places to use the seat is at the right end of the bench when I'm doing close, repetitive work with the tail vise, such as in the posed shot where I'm chopping dovetails that have already been chopped. I also use the seat when I'm using the jointer for the long periods. It allows better control, and saves my back at the same time. Of course it's also a great seat for doing any detail work at my 36" high Roubo bench.
Here are some "Christmas" shavings. White (basswood), Red (Padauk), and (almost) Green (Poplar). Merry Christmas!