Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Visiting a local carver's shop - what a treat!

Since I haven't been completely cleared to start working again, I've been catching up on some older projects that I have in my shop. Every woodworker I know has a few of these sitting on a shelf, awaiting completion. There are a few pieces that have been piling up around my shop for a while, and it's time to finish them. First stop - my guitar cabinet. (More about that in a future blog post.)

I spent a little time this week with Rip, a local woodcarver. He's about as pleasant a fellow as you'll ever meet - a retired teacher, and a hell of a carver. 

You might remember that I made a base for one of his sculptures a while ago. 

These two sumo wrestlers were a little tricky to mount, and when we finally got it right, a high-five was warranted. 

I love visiting other woodworker's woodshops - fascinated by their layouts, their choices for tools, and the ingenuity of their work. I always thought it would be great to travel the country and assemble an amazing coffee-table book featuring different workspaces.

Although a lot of people look down on it, pegboard is a great solution when you need visual access to your tools. I'm a huge fan of pegboard! 

Rip began the visit by showing me his current project - this gorilla, which he first sculpted in clay. 

When asked why he sculpts in clay first, he explained that it helps him get the correct proportions for the wooden pieces he carves. So this is where it starts. 

Once he's satisfied with it, he dives into wood. 

 His method for holding the wood is slick - this carving stand mounts on the bottom of his wood blank, and rotates and pivots to any angle. 

Speaking of great systems, here's a little-known method for sharpening - a cardboard wheel for your grinder. Add a little polishing compound to the wheel and your chisels will be razor sharp in no time. Notice the wheel on the right? You can apply a little compound on the side of the wheel, and use that area for honing, too. This is such a smart way to sharpen odd shapes. 

Here's a link to read more about cardboard wheels.

Here's another base I made for one of his pieces. 

And here's the piece in his home. 

Sports are a theme for much of his work, 

and he's even dabbled in bronze casting. I'm in awe of Rip's work, and just spending an hour with him made me antsy to get back in the shop again! 

So here's how my Wednesday morning is going...

How is yours going?

Thursday, August 04, 2022

What's your most critical shop tool?

 Starting over is a mixed blessing...  It's not often that someone sells their entire woodshop. What's that line - lock, stock and barrel? 

Well, I pretty much did that, selling the woodworking school with its entire contents intact - all of the Festool gear (including both Dominos and the track saw), three Sawstops, a kick-ass 12" jointer and the 24" planer, and more. 

MUCH more!

And setting up a new shop is great... I've had five or six shops in my lifetime, and each one allows me to tweak what doesn't work, and add what new features I need. That's where I'm at right now - and let me say - it's pretty damn exciting!

In addition to the two tools I could never live without (a good tablesaw and a quality planer) - I just ordered a new panel saw. This is a luxury that I've learned I can't live without, and for me - it takes the place of a track saw, a radial arm saw, and even a tablesaw, since it rips wood like a dream. When working alone, I've found this tool to be invaluable.

I have a few commissions in the pipeline, and this beast is going to make cutting large panels of wood by myself a breeze.

But honestly - with the high temperatures that we have here in Vegas, a good shop refrigerator is ALL-IMPORTANT! I have my eye on this one, it's ridiculously cute, and frankly - I only need it to hold beer and water, two shop essentials!

What's your most critical shop tool?