Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dozuki rehab

So, today I was sitting drinking tea when the postman rings the bell. I had forgotten I had an EMS saw coming my way.

It was less than 10 euros plus expensive shipping. But EMS is so fast that it's almost worth it.

Here the saw, together with my dozuki:

Close up to the nice surface:

I know, it looks like crap, but somehow I had the impression it was only surface rust. Comparing the teeth, the one I got has slightly larger teeth, that's nice for sharpening.

Ok, if you look closely you will realise the steel was cleaned with a file as I described in a previous post. THIS is the way to go, the saw cuts so much better, and if you work hard enough it will look like new.

That was around lunch, a test cut in spruce. From another side:

Later, I made the teeth longer, it was a bit slow with this chubby teeth, like 2 passes deeper, not much. I also changed the handle, it was impossible to clean with the old one.

All in all, 3 hours of work and it's ready to go with her sisters.

And yes! I sold the workbench. It felt good, we are selling it to the son of the woman who bought our shoemaking tools. It was a present for her husband, a physicist who wants to move into the shoemaking thing. Sounds like a nice coincidence. Funny enough, the daughter works in the same institute I do, Graz is a small town.

Edit: Some pictures for Ernest, hope this clarifies the cleaning. With a Ryoba I would use a larger file but as Ernest says Dosuki are more delicate so you need to be imaginative.

 Then I put the feather file on one of its sides, it's not so stable but that helps to make light passes. Maybe I make some magnetic holder later, but at the moment it works. It's also a great use for used files. When you sharpen the gullet edge is the first on dying, and the rest of the file is pretty much new but you cannot use it for sharpening anymore, just for jointing.

This is a Ryoba, I thought I had put this picture already. As you can see I use both the safe side (which works as a kind of scraper) and the cut side which you don't see. 

I want to get something like this. In german they are called Riffelfeile, I'm getting some next month when Julia goes to germany, like that I save the shipping.

I think this kind of file would be easier to use in saws than the ones I'm using. Since the saw is not flat but has an slight hollow in the middle you need a file that is curved so it can go there.

Friday, December 26, 2014


We were watching this movie with Julia the other day, Sling Blade it was called, and had a good imdb rating. After 20 minutes or so I was sick of it. Like literally sick.  It may even have triggered the migraine of the last 2 days.

Before turning the movie off, I realised what was it. The whole atmosphere, the cars, the food, the fat people, the houses. America in the 90s. America makes me feel sick.

And then I remembered, " The things you own end up owning you." Or put another way, what you don't own gives you freedom.

So I wanted to record here how we live, since I know it's far from being a typical house. I skipped the toilet and the bedroom (which is anyway empty besides the bed and a clothes rack) for the sake of privacy, but here it is. This is my home.

First and foremost, the workbench:

Then to the right, the kitchen/office where the teapots and the laptop live. We like coffee also.

From the other side looks like this.

Except for the kettle,  washing machine, tea pots and few other kitchen items, everything is second hand. The table is made of a piece of plywood that the guy who sold me the work bench gave us. It works just fine.

After my workspace, you find the living room, which is shared by Julia's workshop and the cavies, not shown. We only have music on the kitchen so she's using headphones. Good so she didn't hear I was taking a picture.

 That's the bike I need to sell, a puppet a friend of Julia lent her, a picture of Opa's workshop and some Julia's drawings of Grazian doors.

 Behind that door is the bedroom. It's quite cold there so we just go there for sleeping.

That's it. No TV, no couch, no car keys. We've been here a year and 2 months already, but it looks empty and I like it. It's not that we cannot afford more. It's that we decided to live with less.

I guess we are used to it by now. Julia used to live in squats while studying until they changed the law in Holland and make them illegal. I've been living like a nomad since I moved to Europe. Mostly in shared houses with friends. Artists friends, so poor friends. But we always had food and we always had fun. And that's pretty much life for me.

The best part of the flat for the end. We live in front the Jesus hertz kirche, or something like that. When I was a teenager in Chile I always dreamt of having a flat on Paris where you could see through a small window some nice church. I didn't really like to live in Paris in a chambre de bonne. I also dreamt of japanese stuff. Before I was born, my father was in Japan for an scholarship while my mother was visiting Europe for her first and only time. My whole childhood was filled with those images and dreams, of a different world, a beautiful world. With the stories of my mother's divided Germany, and my dad's quiet Japan. Etwas anderes. Etwas ganz anderes. Certain possibilities of existence that we as a continent didn't have the chance of live yet, and that somehow I ended up looking for.

Nowadays, I have a name for that: handmade. That's what's common to the Japan of my father and the Europe of my mother. Paris' streets, handmade. Japanese gardens, handmade. The doors from Graz, handmade. Well, is either that or the flirting with fascism.  And that's why the means of production as a concept keep on coming back to my head. When you work with your hands you have a society that believes in something, that's capable of creating something beautiful. You have a world, and not only because you are not undermining the biological support of it, but because you experience the creative power of your life. El poeta es un pequeño dios, said Huidobro. The same goes for hand workers.

And that's why the movie was so sickening for me. Seems like the background was only apt for murders, which was indeed how the movie ended.

Anyway, here's the kitchen window.

Which reminds me of a Freud's quote: "Happiness is the deferred fulfilment of a prehistoric wish. That is why wealth brings so little happiness: money is not an infantile wish."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas presents

I don't know how it works on your country/family, but in mine, that is, Julia and me, we don't give presents to each other or to other people. So each buys whatever he or she wants and opens them whenever he or she fancies. I open mine as soon as they arrive, I was never a good kid.

Since we are reducing our footprint, I sold my iMac last week. Had spend the money of it in tools long ago... and almost all arrived this week :)

So, a small toolsumerist post for christmas

First, two planes I got from Junji.

A nice one:

And a fucking awesome one.

 with a poor uradashi.

The nice one had a horrible dai, with a rusted screw to hold it together. I tried to unscrew it but ended up cutting the whole thing off.

A nice staircase dai, perhaps a new trend?

I was playing with the other one yesterday, still need to sharpen more and fix the sole but it's already with her sisters

Yep, I also got some knives... the one on the right from Junji, and the 3 io the left from Jason, Thanks a lot!

Oh, yea, a few other toys on the picture... the saws I was playing with this week and a rosewood mallet I made in germany two weeks ago.

I really like Jason's knives. Mostly the small one. It has a beautiful skin colour.

I like the way you can almost smell the charcoal on it... a piece of time and will invested into matter.

The boy needs some practice, but I see a bright future here. He considers them as forging fails but except of the large pointy one which didn't harden (or lost carbon, I don't know), I see them as very promising and already useful tools. The small one is my to go knife to open ebay packages.

The steel seems somewhat flexible, like it makes a burr immediately and then the burr flips from one side to the other constantly. It's really easy to sharpen tho, and with this one I had it razor sharp after 2 minutes or so. Nice for a change after spending a few hours with those plane blades.

The shape of the marking knife is also very nice, lovely chamfers and good balance. Oh, and once you oil them with camelia oil they become like 10 times nicer to the touch.

Thanks a lot Jason, these are probably the best christmas present I ever got. (And you haven't seen the stone and the saw files it came with them... for a future post once I'm done fixing bodies and start making shavings.)

And in case you wonder if I spend my christmas fixing tools, the answer is "yes, thanks god".

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Concave sawing

I'm often asked what to do when you break a bunch of teeth in one place but the rest of the saw is perfectly fine. Like the saw jams somewhere, you try to take it out, bend it a bit thinking it will be fine, and SNAP! 8 teeth cut in half somewhere in the saw.

This happened to one of those rusty saws I got from Gary last month. Perfect rip teeth, perfect cross cut, but a bunch of teeth off at the end of the saw.  (Look close to the mark on the envelop, there you see the missing teeth on the left saw.)

I sincerely don't want to file down that amount of steel, it's a waste. Of time, files and steel.

Was tun? (as Lenin said.) Concave sawing is the new revolutionary technique that will bring back to life all those forgotten saws laying around in Japanese flea markets.  Or maybe not.

The good thing of being the only westernerst in the interwebs sharpening japanese saws is that you can bluff. The bad, is that you don't learn as fast as you could.

After long consideration, I decided to file a slight curve on the saw, removing as little steel as possible so I get rid of the broken teeth but enough so the saw feels smooth when cutting.

At the moment, it looks like this on one side:

And on the other:

I still need to smooth a bit more the curve, there is still a small but noticeable jump on the left side of last picture.

Does it work? Yes. Is it historically correct? I have not the slightest idea. Did I save the other 95% of the teeth from becoming metal dust? Yep, in very deed. I'm behaving like Antigone going against the laws of the city? Who knows, I just hope not to end like her.

So, next time you feel in the mood for jointing, think it again and maybe give concave sawing a try. By the way, this doesn't feel faster at all, if anything it's slower because I was checking side by side and taking just a bit at the time. Perfect labour for a lazy sunday.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Shortening saws

It's not a secret I cannot straighten saws. I don't take it as a joke about my sexual preferences, at least not always.

Long story short, I cut a saw in half today. Or rather, I cut by half something that was once sold a japanese saw. Cheap industrial crap that somebody in Opa's workshop had used to cut metal. So no big loss here.

I tried previously to straighten it but it only got worse and more ugly. Then I used fired on the back, even worse.

For quite long time I've been looking at dai-groove cutting saw, so this was the chance to do it.

After I shaped it, I decided to tackle the biggest problem the saw had: it was tapered along the length in the thickness. So it jammed. Always. Every time.

You can set more the teeth to avoid this but we are talking of a good .1mm here. Near the neck it was 0.51mm while on the top around 0.40mm. Definitely not nice.

This is the set up.

Something to measure the blade's thickness, a file (I'm using the large one, bought in Leipzig for 1.5euros, awesome Stasi quality). After a few passes I measured, and realised that it was going to take a fair bit of time. The file scraps fast, but it kinda make lines so you need to move it around to cover all the surface.

Nice shavings

I even managed some long curly ones but didn't take pictures of those.

After ten minutes or so, I had an uniform thickness. Around 0.38mm or so

I love the look of the steel. Looks like new. 

For the handle I used some really light wood from Ecuador, looks like walnut but weights like pawlonia.

Then I sharpened it a bit more, and now I have a lovely short, no-set, dai-groove cutting saw with chumasaru cross cut pattern. It kinda got better after all.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Madonoko (まどのこ)

Finally I put my ass to it and manage to get a few hours of sitting yesterday and this morning. After long deliberation, I decided to use the slightly bent ryoba for the conversion.

It had several teeth missing  in some pretty random configurations so I decided to try something new this time. 

If you remember, the last madonoko I made had a 1+5 configuration. That is, break one tooth, then make one rip cut, and 4 cross cut. With that configuration the set is maintained from window to window, and the rip teeth need to be set-less. It works but Chomasaru has different pictures online. 

In (most of?) his saws the set is alternating from window to window, so the rip teeth have set and the cross cut changes from one to the other. 

I wonder long time how did he manage to inverse the bevel of half of the teeth... well, I guess he doesn't. The solution, easy one, is to break 2 teeth for each gullet. That way the number of teeth in the pattern is odd and will alternate the bevel on each window. 

I was just a bit afraid of breaking off so many teeth. 

But yesterday I just gave it a go. It was worth it. So it looks. 

The surface of hard maple

Hanging around with a friend.

What did I learn? 2-teeth gullets are not so much bigger than the 1-gullet I was using before. And they have just enough space to put my cheap bacoh's side to file the gullets. It makes for a faster process. Then my needle file fit perfectly in the space to made a nice half circle at the bottom. 

Finally, that the files that Stuart  from Tools from Japan are crap. The edge was dull after sharpening one side of a saw. Nitto are far better. 

I also see that I'm getting better at this thing. The gullets could use still a bit more depth and the rip tooth maybe a more step angle, but it's working like that, and I will call it a day today. Still need to go to work. 

EDIT: For the sake of clarity, here a diagram of what I did. 

Break 2 teeth, file the first tooth as a rip taking as little material as possible. Then touch again the uwa-me since the rip teeth will be a bit down.

If you check Nagakatsu's saws, his rip teeth are much more aggressive than mine. Since I'm using mostly hardwoods, I learnt to love chubby and relatively short teeth. 

Something I don't understand is why you need to make such deep gullets. It cannot be simply a cosmetic thing. I would say that this way each window has more flexibility and this helps to make smoother cuts.... but no idea really. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celle and cold

A random array of pictures of Opa's werkstatt.

 I came sunday after 13 hours of trains. They didn't have food in the last one, no beer either.

First two days were lots of fun but last night I felt weird, so I spent this afternoon in bed sleeping away the cold. A shame because I was planing some tone wood with my japanese plane.

That's next to my workbench. Not mine, but the one I use. This was my homework. A genius used rivets, masonite and nails to "fix" the cello. The wooden piece should be rotated 90 degrees and put the other way around.

From the outside, the raping is clearer.

I bore them away with a hand drill, they don't have a cordless drill here.

The guy who sold it on ebay didn't know how to pack either, so the scroll broke on the way.

 It's a beech scroll. Looks a bit cheap, but no reason to treat it that way.

Here's the top.

A rather cheap cello, but deserves some caring. I used hot water and lots of patience to take the masonite out. In chile we call it cholguan. It sucks.

Then, some gluing of the, shit, forgot the name. Siding?

And a visit to the front of the shop while it glues.

 I love those colours. Sharpening/painting section

The view from Opa's place.

 His bench

  That's a new hand made rasp... really nice. I will get one for christmas. And that's some horrible grained poplar a not sharp enough plane blades. Opa is getting old, it's quite sad to see.  More planes

Yesterday I was the whole day fixing a missing corner of the cello. Try to cut as little as possible and leave a easy to glue surface. Go slow.

After several hours, a new corner was there. Still a bit proud.

Needs to blend with the old one, so not so straight. The back has a really nice pattern. I mean, humble nice wood. No fancy flames or anything, but I like it

And that was today. I was jointing and preparing some wood for violins but I felt like shit after lunch and went to bed. This was the spruce top, the bottom was a beautiful maple that I maybe can photograph tomorrow. 

I know it's a big mess, each time I come I work in everything I can. Now I'm fixing several old chisels, making handles, a rosewood mallet for the planes, und so wieder. I'm leaving these 3 planes here, maybe Julia's mother switches to the light side of the force.