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Thread: A Visit With Garrett Hack

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan

    A Visit With Garrett Hack

    A while back, in >> THIS THREAD << Bill Satko mentioned that >> Garrett Hack << was coming to Japan, which made my ears perk up

    Bill was so very kind to get hold of Garrett and introduce us. I asked Garrett if he was planning to do any classes over here, Garrett replied that he was not, but would LOVE to

    Garrett was coming to Japan, invited by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to speak on a panel about wood working and in particular furniture building, he was also going to attend the International Furniture Fair held here in Tokyo. Initially, he would be going back to the US after only a few days, but once we got he ball rolling on a class and then a trip up to Sanjo (a famous town in Nigatta for blacksmiths), Garrett was able to extend his trip for a few more days.

    I got hold of my friend Sugita San, the woodworker who introduced me to the DoPa magazine a while back, and we started talking about venues and groups of people that we could introduce Garrett to, remember, the western hand-plane is not highly regarded here, as the Japanese hand-plane the "Kanna" is king. Sugita san and I set out to challenge that idea, with Garrett's help. Eventually we were able to set up a class for Garrett to teach, with about 20 woodworkers, most of them are just weekend warriors and really at a beginner level, with one or two notable exceptions. The class would be held in Chiba, a city across Tokyo bay, about 1 1/2 hours drive from my house.

    Next we had to figure out what Garrett needed to teach the class, a kind of "Introduction to Western Hand planes". We had to get some materials together and some tools, as well as sharpening stones and a bunch of other stuff too. The e-mails flew back and forth from Tokyo to Vermont, as we figured it all out. In the end, Garrett sent over a big box of tools from Lie-Nielsen to use for the class, preferring to NOT use his own tools, as they could be lost or damaged in transit. He did bring his own blades for the planes, and this made a very big difference.

    With the Sunday class basically set up, we then turned our efforts to a trip up to Sanjo, to see some tool makers. Garrett had a contact, one Stanley Harrelson of >> << who set up a meeting with a plane Dia maker (the wooden plane body) Inomoto san >> LINK << to videos of him making a Dai, great videos. We got hold of Inomoto san and set up a meeting with him at this workshop on Monday the 7th of December.

    Things had finally come into focus, we were very much looking forward to this weekend of woodworking fun!

    Alex Reid from this site came along too, and did a lot of translating as well.

    On Thursday the 3rd of December, Garrett was finished with the AHEC, and I met him for dinner that night, we had a great time and both were looking forward to the weekend. On Saturday, Garrett came to my house to stay the night and to get ready for the class on Sunday.

    Here is Sugita San, Garrett and Alex down in the Dungeon going over some tools.....
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    We all had a good chat, and Garrett showed us what really sharp tools are like

    Last edited by Stuart Ablett; 12-10-2009 at 11:31 AM.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Sunday December 6th

    On Sunday we got up nice and early, as we had to be at the woodworking classroom at 9 AM and it was a good 1 1/2 drive. Sugita san lives close to my house, so we drove over to get him and pick up the stuff he was bringing along, we met up with Alex along the way, as he was working the night before and did not go home. On the way to Chiba we took the Tokyo Aqua Line with is a tunnel that goes under Tokyo bay, very cool. We stopped along the way to get some breakfast at a great little bakery we found, when we got to the city hall, where the workshop/classroom is, the whole group was already there waiting for us, we hoped that meant they were enthused about the class

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    Some shots of Garrett teaching and the group looking on, there was a total of at least 20 people in the room, maybe not all of them in any one picture.

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    During the first coffee break, Garrett was invited to try out some Japanese planes, called "Kana", these ones were made by Ito San, the shorter guy in the white ball cap, his is 71 years YOUNG and a master carpenter. He was very knowledgeable and helpful in many ways.

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    Ito san having a go at the plane, boy does he move fast, the wooden shaving screams off the board, heck, I could not catch him stopped for the picture!

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    Garrett spent a good deal of time on sharpening, and boy does he get tools sharp, he showed what a new out of the box chisel or plane blade does, and one lightly honed compared to tool that he has had for years and has sharpened many times, they cut end grain pine, like the proverbial hot knife through butter and left a smooth shinny surface, very impressive to say the least.

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    Here Garrett is working on the shoulder of a rabbet cut on the end of a board to mimic where a table apron would join a leg. He cut the rabbet with a sharp dado set, and brought the board along with him (Cherry from his own farm). Most of us looking at the joint would think "Looks fairly good to me" but not Garrett, he said that you could get a piece of paper in that joint, no good. Honestly, most of the Japanese guys really thought he was joking when he said it was no good. Garrett got out his Clifton shoulder plane and went to work, wow, the joint ended up being TIGHT so much so, I joked that you could not even get smoke into the joint, and boy you could not.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
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    Garrett was showing how well the planes can be tuned to take a very light cut, that also leaves the wood finish ready. He took that same piece of cherry and planed it smooth, then on one area he used a sharp card scraper to do a bit of work, not sandpaper, but a card scraper. He then wet the board and dried it off, and you could feel the raised fibers on the part that had be scraped by the card scraper, but on the part he had planed, it was still flat and smooth, no raised fibers at all, I tell you that was very impressive

    He had a wonderful piece of tiger Maple that he brought along, this piece had grain that was going up, down, sideways and backwards, really beautiful to behold, but man, getting no tear-out would be just about impossible..... or so I thought..... WRONG again! With his well set up #4, he was easily able to plane that piece super smooth, no tear-out at all. We then asked Ito san, the Japanese Master Carpenter to do his best with his best plane, and he tore chunks out of the piece. His Japanese plane was stupid sharp too, and worth $400 or more, but it could not match the well tuned Lie-Nielsen plane. To be fair, as Ito san said, most Japanese carpenters NEVER use wood with that kind of figure in it, so their tools are just simply not designed to cut it, fair enough.

    Garrett went on to display and demo his inlay technique which uses a scratch stock to make the inlay cuts, as well as just a scratch stock to give pieces an edge treatment, I know that most of the guys in this group were really blown away that a tool you can make yourself in a few minutes is so versatile and can do so much, so well.

    >> FWW Scratch Stock << Garrett shows how to make a scratch stock.

    At the end of the day, I think that everyone had learned a lot and had come away with a much better understanding of Western Planes, I know that I certainly did.

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    By this time, all cleaned up, some of the class members had already left.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4

    Color me a little bit envious.....

    On 2nd thought..make that a whole lot envious!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    What an opportunity and thank you very much for sharing it! From the looks of it, all were there to learn from the interested looks on their faces. Glad to see some laughing and enjoying, one of them is QUITE SERIOUS about photography! Cannot imagine the information shared and learned in that short session. What language was used Stu? And again, thanks for sharing, it looked like a wonderful time and a barrier busting day!

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Zushi, Japan
    Stu it was a great weekend for me. I had a blast, learned a bunch of things and got to hang out with a bunch of cool woodworkers. Today my Shapton ceramic stones arrived. I realized during this workshop that my setup for sharpening was inadequate. I already had a 1000 and 3000 grit waterstones. So his time I bought a 5000, 8000 and a 12000 grit Shapton Pro series ceramic waterstones. I got them through the auction site so the price was reasonable. Will get those pictures to you before Garret takes off.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Well guys, it was a blast, as Alex said

    Ken, you would have loved it, if you can get over the mountain and to Port Townsend, I know Garrett it teaching there in the new year

    Jonathan, we spoke in English, and Japanese, with a bunch of translation going back and forth.

    Alex, I'm sure that you will love them Shapton stones, that is what I'll replace mine with when I wear the ones I have now out.

    I've only posted about Sunday, I've got a lot more to post about the trip to Sanjo on Monday.

    I'm also editing a bunch of videos, and will post them on YouTube.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Great post Stu! Like Ken, I am green with envy. I can only comfort that feeling with the knowledge that I will be spending 6 days with Garrett during his upcoming class in Port Townsend this June.

    I have to ask, if Lie Nielsen supplied some tools for the event, did Tom tell Garrett to bring them back or just sprinkle them among the woodworkers over there in Japan?

    I am looking forward to more of your posts on the trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Hey Bill, I told Garrett that you hooked us up, so be sure to mention it to him when you see him in person, as I'm sure he'd like to thank you himself.

    I guess I need to mention that Garrett did leave some of the planes behind, this is the one he gave me..........

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    That is Low Angle Jack plane, based on the #62 Stanley.

    I was completely blown away, I could not believe his generosity, I know that he paid his own money for the planes, I think he got a discount, but he did pay for them. He gave a #4 Smoother to Sugita san for his help.

    The other planes he either kept, or he gave them away to craftsmen we visited.

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    After I got home, I went and really, REALLY sharpened my various planes, the #5C Stanley Sweet Heart I recently refurbished, with the laminated blade sharpened up very nice. I then did a bunch of planing and boy I could get a nice smooth surface, with really fine shavings.

    On the #4 Stanley I have, which is NOT a Bedrock, with the stock blade I could not get as sharp as I wanted, I did get it a sharper than it was, but no matter what I did, under very close inspection, I still get a few chips, or nicks in the blade, I think it is just the average quality of the blade that is the problem. I may very well buy a new blade and chip breaker for that plane, and save my money for a #4 1/2 as a future purchase.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Oh Boy you have been busy. What a tremendous experience all round. Boy this post gave me shivers up my spine and real delight. To see people from different parts of the world coming together and sharing in something like woodworking and learning from each other. Wow what a delight.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to post all the pics and the write up.

    I am with Ken GREEN WITH ENVY.

    Nice new toy you have there now you have to get out to the dungeon and use it.

    Garret is quiet the man as they say "by your deeds you are known".

    We say the spinny thing is a vortex but I am not sure about that when i look at the Neaderthral way.
    Planes, chisels, mallets, saws, sharpening stones and on and on.......but its a real delight even so.

    Alex i now understand your motive for wanting the Ebook.

    Hey has anyone thought in competitive terms ....what a scoop this article is for our Forum. Hey you heard it first on the Family Woodworking Forum
    Last edited by Rob Keeble; 12-10-2009 at 05:41 PM.

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