Monday, January 29, 2007


To come soon

Work of this past weekend:

- 45/60degree shooting board
- first forged marking knife (yet to finish and sharpen)
- planing difficult wood

I will developp these topics soon, hopefully.

If you own a 10" band saw (rexon type, I believe the same as Delta), I invite you to visit Manabe-san's web page, he shows a lot of interesting modifications to improve the machine:

Monday, January 22, 2007



This past sunday was mainly dedicated to blacksmithing.

My forge and other set-up need a lot of improvements.

Here is what needs to be changed:

  1. The blower is attached to a tin can and the flow of air directed through first, 2 plastic pipes, then 2 metal pipes. But the plastic pipes could melt from the radiated heat 9not conduction through the metal pipe). I remedied that by placing 2 bricks to isolate the plastic, but metal pipes should be longer, or I should use all metal connections.
  2. When connected to the pipes, the blowers debit of air is significantly reduced: this is due to the reduction in diameter of the pipe, and that the blower is not powerfull enough (this is not a complain, and I am very gratefull to Jens from the Oakwood forge who gave it to me). What I could do would be to add a third pipe.
  3. Maybe improve the walls of the forge. Add a top?
  4. Install my railtrack anvil on a solid stable stab of wood, or other stand.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Dai making explained in Taiwan

Virtually all the hand plane blades used in Taiwan are from Japan. Among the most famous are white phoenix by Yamaguchi-san from Miki city, some other are from the dogyu company also in Miki. Some white phoenix blades and complete plane can still be found in Taiwan.

But while the main blade was important (and still is), the dai are made locally. The red oak used is of excellent quality and the one found nowadays has been left drying for several years, up to more than 10 years.
The dai made in Taiwan had followed the Japanese way, that is it has grooves allowing the main blade to be secured in place even without a subblade. But then the dai began to be cut without the grooves, requiring a subblade to hold the blade. This is the way it is done in China for example, in Europe also and in the USA for wooden planes.
A Taiwanese dai maker explained me that the pin maintaining the subblade began to be much thicker and tougher. He also said that the Japanese way was more challenging to make.

During the grand opening of a woodworking school, where I am a part time student (class on saturdays), I decided to finish the dai I had started few time ago. It would be a good occasion to explain where are the differences between Taiwan planes and Japanese planes.

This dai has a 66degree blade angle. I chose a high angle because the wood found in Taiwan ranges from hinoki (chamaecyparis obtusa formosana, ch. formosensis) to acacia (acacia confusa), and the later is very difficult to plane. The grain goes in all directions, and when dry, the wood is tough and relatively hard (harder than oak for heart wood).
The main plane is a "miki" blade from Tsunesaburo. The steel is hap40, a particular HSS steel and should be tough and hard enough for this intended use (high angle and hard wood). It has good resistance to wear. Hap40 is made by hitachi and has equivalents from other manufacturers. Its indicative content is:

C: 1.28 mass%, Cr: 4.21 mass%, W: 6.63 mass%, Mo: 4.57 mass%, V: 3.03 mass% and Co: 7.5

Miki blades or complete planes are available from Japanese tools Iida.

Dai making explained to Taiwanese amateur woodworkers

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Reflections on hand woodworking

Few years back, I have sold all my electric tools (no big machines, only protative tools: circular saw, jig saw, planer, belt sander, ...) and bought hand saws, planes and chisels. I decided I'd do all by hand. I didn't want to use any machine, and living in an appartement, it wasn't approriate neither.
When I say all by hand, I really mean it. From the tree to the little chair or toy for my son.

After a typhoon, I'd go around town see if I could harvest some timber. I'd remove the bark, let the wood dry, rip cut it, resaw it, plane it, square it.

It takes a long long time to do this. It teaches a lot, but it is not productive, even for the hobbyist.

Recently, I have got access to some planer, band saw, thicknesser and table saw. I realized that these tools, though very noisy and potentially dangerous are extreemly usefull, particularly if you harvest your wood yourself.
For me, hand woodworking went together with the desire to reproduce the method used before machines came in, back close to 100years before. But obviously I was sometimes led to buy precut and premilled stock, and that meant some machine did the job before. So seen from that angle, articles made from this kind of stock could be argued to be 100% hand made using hand tools. Or one should specify from where was the hand tool work process started.

Does hand made means made exclusively with hand tools? I don't think so, I'd define hand made as being made by one craftman or craftwoman, and not made by a robot in chain production. To say something has been made without machine, one should say hand tool made. And does one really want to trace back to the way the tree was cut, ripped and milled?

So I'm just coming to the conclusion that I'll probably buy a small band saw, to help me resaw small stock I harvest.
Just make a clever use of machines and don't abuse it, so that hand tools retain there central position.

But I'm still stubborn with my hand tools, as illustrated on the recent post where I am talking ripping an about 120cm (4ft) and 39cm (15") diameter camphor tree! It's just another feeling to cut the wood outside in nature being able to hear the birds singing around compare to the noise of a workshop.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Long time no post

Isn't it? But I wasn't idle.

I did a dai for a blade called miki, which steel is hap40 and is said to be harder that HSS. The blade is set at 66degree, and now I can plane acacia confusa, one variety of acacia found in Taiwan. The grain of that wood goes in all direction, up, down, forward, backward! The 66 degree plane provides satisfying result. Acacia confusa is a hard wood, relatively dense and it is tough. It is not particularly rare, many trees can be found, but it is very rarely found as timber for fine woodworking (cabinet making and else), because hard to work with.

Otherwise, I have started a sumitsubo, which is now well advanced. Both dai and sumitsubo will be the subject of new posts.

Sorry for those of you who came to this blogg and saw nothing new since several weeks. I will do better.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Rip cut some camphor

Some timber men left about 50cm (20") of camphor tree and didn't bother to uproot it.

I decided to give it a try.

Uprooting that tree wasn't easy. Camphor wood has many roots and it is well anchored (my stepfather gave a hand)

The job done, remained to move the tree to a proper place, and since I want to rip cut it on site, it had to be well maintained.

I started by removing the bark with a drawknife so that the remaining mud wouldn't harm the saw and it would be easier anyway if no mud goes into the kerf.

The first cut on a well stabilized piece.
My 2 years old son gives the scale here.

Sunday jan 14th, trying another saw (Izaemon maebiki).

I have no idea yet what I will do with the planks I'll get, and the rip is just begining. It is a tough task, and fortunately the tree is not very hard. The sharpened maebiki works nicely here.

After 2 mornings of effort, about half has been cut. The remaining will be cut with the tree laying on its side.

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