Hollows and Rounds Class @ Port Townsend

Bill Satko

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I have not significantly posted in a long time. The most I have done is provide an occasional sound bite. I have been busy working longer days; about 12 hours a day when you consider the travel time. It does not leave much time in the evening to do any woodworking. I have accomplished a few projects in this time-frame, but it has been hard to get any enthusiasm to post about them. They were mostly just stuff on the “honey do” list, not “fine furniture”.

I also have not taken any woodworking classes lately. It has been a couple of years and quite frankly there was not a lot more that I felt I needed to learn. The one except is the making of my own molding planes. It is something I wanted to do for a while. Well, I actually didn’t want to make my own, it is just the difficulty of acquiring decent used ones and the price and delivery time of new ones, kind of forced my hand. But as I learned today, it is a skill that will help me in tuning up any more vintage ones that I should get. I was told today the reason why most molding planes don't work well is that they have lost their "mating" with the bed or that the iron profile no longer matches the plane profile. The skill required for making new planes is directly usable to fixing old planes.

I missed out when Matt Bickford was here in Port Townsend last time, so when I saw that the Port Townsend School of Woodworking was bringing him back this year, I signed up early.

So this thread will be about my class that I am taking this week. Actually it is two classes: the making of hollow and rounds and the use of these planes to make moldings. It won’t be a detailed blow by blow of what is taking place in the class. It is not possible as you are just too busy soaking everything up and trying to keep up with the pace of the class. It will be just some photos and text on the highlights of my adventure and not necessarily just about the woodworking.

I hope you find it interesting and I also hope it makes up for me not posting much.
 

Bill Satko

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Some of you may remember the traveling tool box I made some time ago (4 to 6 years?). Well, since I made my large floor tool box and stopped taking any classes, it has been sitting up in my shop’s attic. I was going to toss it, but decided I might still need it. It was looking pretty bad and was never really a thing of beauty because of the crummy wood I used. Here is picture that I took of the box when I was at one of classes that was taught by Chris Schwarz.
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OK, it does not look too bad there but trust me it did not age beautifully.

I have a time honored tradition that when I take classes at Port Townsend, to wait until the last few days before we leave, and then decide to make something that I think I need for the class. How do you think the original traveling toolbox came to be? So I work like a wild man day and night to pull off something that I should have started a month before.

So in keeping with tradition I decide a few days before we are to leave for Port Townsend to refurbish the old traveling tool box. Maybe a little cleaning and some paint. Shouldn’t take long at all. Yeah, right.

I totally disassembled the box, except for the dovetail joints. I then planed and sanded all the parts, shellacking the interiors. I then re-nailed all the panels using Tremont cut finishing nails I had. The back pine boards had a nice patina to them, so I did nothing but clean them and apply wax. I then poured over paint samples finally settling on a nice blue. I worked like a dog on a bone, but managed to complete the refurbished box and get packed with the tools I needed and few I didn’t by 5:00 PM Saturday. We were leaving early the next morning. I must be getting better at this late minute stuff.

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I have to say it did not turn out too bad.

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Bill Satko

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I've thought about these but they look pretty intimidating!

I thought the same thing, Ryan and they still are. So far it is going well and I will post on that tomorrow. I am bushed and about ready to turn in. One thing I have learned is that these classes wear you out, because how much concentration you put into the entire day.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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...managed to complete the refurbished box ...by 5:00 PM Saturday...

That's not nearly close enough. Anything before midnight doesn't even count as being "close". :D

The refurbed box looks great, Bill. Looking forward to you posts about the class. :thumb:
 

Bill Satko

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The advantage of taking classes at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking over other schools is the surroundings. Port Townsend is an old (West coast old) seaport that was established in about 1850. Because it is located on the Northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, across the sound from the major cities of Washington, it has avoided the growth that follows the Interstate 5 corridor. In short, it has a much slower pace of life and has attracted people looking for a different lifestyle. A lot of those people tend to lean toward crafts, so you have a very strong community of people that are woodworkers, shipbuilders, pottery makers, etc.

The school is located at the defunct Fort Worden which is now a state park. It is in itself an interesting place, which today is being revitalized by the state by utilizing its facilities in leasing out the buildings to colleges and nonprofits like the woodworking school.

I wanted to get this post out before I headed out to walk to class. I shot some pictures of my walk from where we stay (secret spot that we do not share with others) along the beach to the Fort where school is. Here is link to pictures of an early class that shows more detail of my daily walk. These are just highlights of yesterdays, which I thought interesting. Tonight I will get into the details of the class.

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Bill Satko

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Sorry, last night "work" reached out to me and I had to do something for them. Kind of used up my evening.

Ryan had the thought that the class might be a little intimidating and after two days of class, I would say that his assessment was not far off. It has been the most challenging class so far for me. The main reason is that it you are using techniques that have a lot of little nuances that trail and error can only teach you. Specifically I am talking about using floats to open up the unique mortise in a hollow and round. If you remove wood in the wrong place, you can't put it back!

Let me step back. Matt had already prepared a set of blanks for each of us. Actually 3 blanks, as one was a practice blank. When I say prepared, I mean he had already cut out the escapement, drilled the holes (that define the mortise edges) and generally rough shaped it.

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Above you can the blanks he had prepared, both right hand and left hand. We were all righties in the class.

This preparation by him was probably a huge time-saver for the class, but I suspect that drilling the holes accurately and straight is not easy. Something I will have to figure out when I am own my own and making more planes. He did demonstrate how you cut the escapement with a saw and a jig.

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You use your 1/10 mortise chisel to determine the opening of the mouth. (I will flip these pictures later when I have more time, sorry).

Here are some general pictures of the class and my bench. Actually benches, as the room is set up for 10 people and only 6 actually showed up.

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Off to class, more to follow tonight.
 

Ryan Mooney

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:lurk:

Yeah, it seems that the margin of error between doesn't work at all, sort of works and clogs horribly/doesn't cut well, and actually mostly works is fairly small with these. I was thinking the approach to take might be to make a bunch of simpler planes (thinking rebate planes) and figure on junking the majority or even all of them as a skill building exercise in cutting and shaping the parts (could use cheaper wood that wouldn't wear but cuts well enough.. maybe poplar or maple cut offs?). That would avoid having to deal with most of the hollow/round issues but still be similar for the base plane... once that was down could try making some hollows and rounds :D

Still looks like a lot of fun, there's a tempting array of other goodies in the background as well.
 

Bill Satko

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:lurk:

Yeah, it seems that the margin of error between doesn't work at all, sort of works and clogs horribly/doesn't cut well, and actually mostly works is fairly small with these. I was thinking the approach to take might be to make a bunch of simpler planes (thinking rebate planes) and figure on junking the majority or even all of them as a skill building exercise in cutting and shaping the parts (could use cheaper wood that wouldn't wear but cuts well enough.. maybe poplar or maple cut offs?). That would avoid having to deal with most of the hollow/round issues but still be similar for the base plane... once that was down could try making some hollows and rounds :D

Still looks like a lot of fun, there's a tempting array of other goodies in the background as well.

Yes, exactly Ryan! As I am progressing through this class, I am thinking of ways that I could practice all the new things I am learning without sacrificing good wood or irons. As I mentioned this has been the most challenging class so far and I finalized realized why. I never had a class where there were so many things I have never done before. Things like using floats and carving tools; grinding profiles on steel, heat treating, etc. Most of the classes only had a couple of new techniques and they were most a variation of something I had done before.

As for goodies in the background, this is for you Ryan.

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Bill Satko

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All day Monday and Tuesday was spent opening up the mouth of the mortise and first bedding the wedge. I found this to be a very challenging process in that you not only had to learn how to handle the different floats, but you had to ensure that you removed the material in the right places; basically stay in the confines of the mortises dimensions. If it sounds easy, it was not for me and others in the class. It was both learning technique and knowledge of what was fatal and what could be fixed.
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After that was accomplished it was then the process of bedding the iron. A slow process of marking the iron with black dry erase markers, fitting the iron, removing the iron and then carefully removing the high spots.

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Once we got both planes irons bedded we then determined which plane was going to be our round. Really the only determining factor was which plane was worst at mating exactly tight against the mouth side at the opening. Kind of hard to explain, but it has to do with the fact that the round will formed back from the corners. A lot of little details like, that Matt knows and was trying to impart to us. We then started shaping the bottom of the round by first chamfering against a pattern that was drawn on the ends. After all of that we took a mother plane (hollow) with sand paper attached and finished the bottom. Kind of "needing a plane to make a plane".


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Tomorrow I will post on shaping our iron and heat treating, plus finish touches on the plane. All of this is the round. Once it is completed we will then work on the hollow. You need a plane to make a plane. Oh, the heat treating was exciting!
 
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Ryan Mooney

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A good chunk of that I have a passing familiarity with, putting it all together though.. Dunno.. I do have to get some of the other projects out of the way first to avoid getting stabbed by the other party since some of them have been on the table for a while :D

As for goodies in the background, this is for you Ryan.
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:eek: :thumb: Thanks Bill! The more complex molding planes like that one are pretty interesting, I know they are essentially just a combination of hollows and rounds and flats but still... Really quite amazing once you start looking closer at them (not even getting into adding boxing, etc).

There's a book on wooden plane making that I've been meaning to acquire but can't recall which was the "good" one... Is it the Fink book or the Whelan book (I want to say it's the Whelan book but am not sure)?
 
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We see that you are having real fun Bill.

I have a question, what is that sort of white jig that appears on some of the pics? Is it a holding jig for the plane bodies to be worked on?.

On a different matter of things, we can see that your tool box is there, but we don't see you there, so you could be cheating all of us, ( no pics didn't happen) you should have brought a selfie stick with you. ;):D:) LOL
 

Bill Satko

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I have a question, what is that sort of white jig that appears on some of the pics? Is it a holding jig for the plane bodies to be worked on?.

Yes, exactly. It is a design that Matt came up with. He feels that clamping slows the process down as you need to constantly check where you are in mortising process which would mean constant unclamping and clamping.

Really interesting, I would love to take a class like that!

Knowing you Stu, you would love it and do well in it.
 

Bill Satko

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I just got back from dinner. We went out tonight at a very special place, Sweet Laurette's, which is our favorite breakfast place. It now appears that it is also our favorite dinner place in Port Townsend. So because of that I am going to have a short post tonight and it will not be about the class, but about a special event that the class was able to do. Jim Tolpin graciously invited our class to visit his new workshop that he built in his backyard. So in groups of 3 we were able to visit his shop. Since there are only 6 of us, that allowed us a good half hour or more to visit with him. Thanks Jim!

The pictures do not convey the wonderfulness of his working space, but here they are:

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And of course the famous Othie
 

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Paul Douglass

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Ahh, Port Townsend, one of my very favorite places to visit. Bucket List has the wooden boat show held there every year. I have not made it there yet, but really hope to. I did make the Kayak Rendezvous one year.

I do not know how you stay in a class when in that town. So much to see.

I have a box similar to yours that my father made before I was born. It is over 70 years old, and I use it to put tools in in my shop.
 

Bill Satko

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Ahh, Port Townsend, one of my very favorite places to visit. Bucket List has the wooden boat show held there every year. I have not made it there yet, but really hope to. I did make the Kayak Rendezvous one year.

I do not know how you stay in a class when in that town. So much to see.

I have a box similar to yours that my father made before I was born. It is over 70 years old, and I use it to put tools in in my shop.

What a coincidence, I once was there for the Kayak Symposium in the early/mid ninety's. I just can't remember when exactly. I have made several Wooden Boats Shows, because they happened to coincide with woodworking classes that I was taking. It is crazy around here then. Too many people, but still fun to experience. We actually prefer Port Townsend in the winter.
 

Bill Satko

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A little behind here. Once the the plane body profile is shaped, we spread layout fluid on the blade, fit the blade into the plane and scribe the profile of the plane bottom and escapement side against the blade. We then grind the "round" shape on the blade using a two step process, fast cutting profile grinding wheel to get close to the lines and then a normal grinding wheel to get right to the line. We then again using a two step process, to grind the bevel, getting close and then right to the edge.

We are getting close to being ready to "fire" the blade. One last adjustment is to place the blade back into the plane and raise the edge slightly so that it just protrudes and final shape the blade edge to the body by running a round chainsaw file with teflon tape wrapped around two places. You slide this back and forth against the plane bottom and it files away the edge of the blade, making a small landing and is now a perfect fit to the plane body.

Now we are ready for the heat treating. I don't have any real pictures of the above or of the heat treating. Sorry, just too busy. Basically you heat the blade until it turns the proper color and "bubbles" start to form and when they get close to the end of the blade you quickly withdraw and stick into oil and briskly slide back and forth for a while. After that you stick it into a oven for a while. I can tell you the above is very exciting as you needed to remove it from the heat at the right time and quickly.

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