Give Your Design Skills a Boost

Dividers sketch by David Fisher.

Every woodworker I know wants to get better at design. Yet it’s hard to carve out time to devote to it. Perhaps it’s because most of us go it alone. Design like any skill responds to our time and attention, but progress often comes in fits and starts.

I’ll be teaching a design workshop at Marc Adams School of Woodworking the week of August 27th through the 31st.  It’s a chance to make a significant leap in your design journey. You’ll leave the workshop on a whole different level equipped with tools to develop your design skills with purpose.

Here’s a link for more details.

 

Note: Both Jim and I have curtailed our teaching schedule to devote more time to our research and writing. This is the only workshop I’ll be offering this year.

 

George R. Walker

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Abracadabra, Make your own water

It’s not quite as magical as making your own water but it’s pretty close. Our latest book “From Truth to Tools” explores how artisan geometry was the flame that ignited the ancient builders imagination. And no less miraculous, gave them the ability to create a tool set out of thin air. That square you have in your tool box may have come from a factory but it really came from simple artisan geometry. Here’s the best part. You can make your own water, I mean tools out of thin air.

Not only will you get a great set of layout tools uniquely suited to woodworking, but also gain a deeper understanding of artisan geometry. Jim Tolpin and I  have been working on a video series  “Building Tools from Truths” to walk you through the build process for making your own tool set. Our first offering covers tools for the layout of straight lines. Here’s a link if you are interested in learning more.

George R. Walker

 

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Two handled perfection

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Richard Grell knows drawknives. He’s been building Windsor chairs for a living more than forty years. That’s a forest of trees sculpted into an armada of chairs. Along the way he’s tweaked and refined his own user tools to a high level. Now the best part. Richard is now making his own version of his favorite drawknife and inshave.

I’ve been using Grell’s drawknife for about a year. The word drawknife doesn’t do it justice, it’s a two handed sculpting tool. First thing that strikes you is the balance. It flips effortlessly in your grip to slice with either push or pull stroke. The cutting edge geometry in relation to the handles give it the control of a spokeshave for fine cuts yet it also can hog off material without complaining.  Take a look yourself at these two short video clips to see it in action.

Here’s a link where you can learn more.

Here’s a link to an earlier post about his chair shop.

 

George R. Walker

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Cheap Tricks at WIA

Fits like a glove by Barb Walker

Study of a burl mallet by Barb Walker

One of the perks of being married to an artist is that we share a lot about design and the creative life. Barb’s always introducing me to her artist friends and mentors she admires. Here’s one of the greats, Wayne Thiebaud sharing his insight on a great masterpiece at the Met. Late in the clip he laughs about how the painting is just a bunch of cheap tricks.

Cheap Tricks

You can say that about almost any great piece of music, painting, sculpture, or chair. Every detail by itself is just a cheap trick. But successfully blending a basket of tricks together may take all you have in you. I’ll be down in Cincinnati for Woodworking in America  WIA in just a few weeks sharing a tool tote full of cheap tricks. Hope to see you there.

George R. Walker

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European Beech is another story

Beech Blanks

The fine folks at Horizon Wood Products in Western Pennsylvania are making available Beech blanks for making bench planes. This quarter sawn 16/4 material is European Beech (Fagus Sylvatica), not the American Beech (Fagus Grandifolia) I wrote about earlier. For those of you excited about the English Woodworker and his upcoming lessons on making a handplane, this should be perfect. I know, I know, in an earlier video, Richard made a workable plane out of some roadkill lumber he fished out of the scrap pile, just to show that it could be done. OK, I got his point, but for something as demanding as a bench plane that might be handed down and put to work for generations, you can’t go wrong with this.

George R. Walker

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Blight hitting American Beech

 

I’m sad to report a blight is ravaging our native stands of American Beech here  in the Midwest. Here’s a link to an article by Jim McCormac updating what we know right now.

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Hand Tool Heaven the Movie

Here’s a sweet video about an amazing place to learn hand tool woodworking. Hope you enjoy and consider what PTSW has to offer.

George R. Walker

 

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