I’ve worked with wood all my working life so far now and I can’t imagine not doing it. Today I begin making a king-size Craftsman-style bed from oak. I suppose it’s really more craftsman-inspired in that visually it could be said to be like another, but I am designing this one from scratch. I have never copied a design in my life and so I don’t intend to start now. Often woodworkers are inspired by the work of another and design something that has a feel of a design from someone else or a definite copy of a period piece.
This weekend my friend, Duncan, came by to learn some saw sharpening. He came with a lovely Ash chair he had designed and made by hand. It was a simple, uncomplicated design that lent itself to hand tool work and we talked about how it could be made using mostly hand tools as this one had been made. I thought the bandsaw was the ideal machine to rough down wood to size and that he could easily eliminate the need for planer and jointer all together because chair parts are always small and lend themselves to hand work like planing and shaping. I started the ing about this coming year as we will be focussing a percentage of our work to power machines and addressing the issues that so confuse woodworkers as to what they really need to prep their wood for subsequent hand work. I have four bandsaws now and may well bring in a fifth one. I have one at my house and three at the castle. Why? Well, they take up very little room compared to other freestanding machines, I can load different blades in each machine and I can tune them to the different work I use them for. But we will be going into that much more deeply over the next few months. Also, me y needs are different than yours will be I think and we will indeed be looking at different machine operational options for you to better understand as we go. You definitely do not need to go out and buy four or five bandsaw machines; one good one will work just fine. I suggest you wait for a more definitive review when we start this next phase in our teaching. Well be looking at old and new options. Powerhouses and bench top models too. I have every kind of bandsaw on a daily basis many times a day since January 1965. That’s 14,400 days when I switched on a bandsaw several times a day. My first bandsaw stood 8′ tall, today I use a 14″ – 18″ bandsaws. I used the same Grizzly 18″ bandsaw I bought in 1988 until 2007. I replaced one bearing only in all of those years and the work I did was often done for several hours a day throughout that period. The machine never let me down once. I sold it on to another woodworker and as far as I know he’s still using it. New ones are very nice now and have several safety features I think are important. Perhaps one day SawStop will put their technology into bandsaws. Now that would be well worth the investment. At an auction a few short years ago I bought a small but very old US Powermatic 14″ with a cast iron body, cast iron back and doors for $25. It’s a great little machine.
Back to the Bed
I am using oak for the bed I am making. Today I pulled the wood and started to cut the rough dimensions on the bandsaw. Rails, side rails, head board and a zillion square uprights will keep me busy tomorrow. I will post most days if there’s something interesting about the work. Today was all sweat, grunt and shove. We will run the cameras too most likely, so you can maybe see some of what I do as I work.
Beds are simple projects and this one would be simple but for the size and the number of parts. I tuned up the bandsaw with a new blade installed so tomorrow I start cutting and planing which will take me all day. I could use my mortise machine for the mortises but I want this to be mostly hand work, so I can keep in shape over the holiday period.
I know a lot of my peers cannot fathom why, if I have mortiser, would I consider doing it by hand. Mostly it’s because they see it as purely hard and inaccurate work. I used to think the same way they do. You see, I think it’s that they just don’t know.