Thursday, May 28, 2015

Zone 0

In line with yesterday's depression, today I didn't even look at the house downstairs.

The morning was a bit of planing, lunch at an aunt's, and afternoon finishing my chisel holder.

I want first to have a nice room and a place for all my tools. From there, I can go working outwards fixing things little by little.

So, the chisel holder:

I saw a picture in one of these japanese blogs that really struck me, perhaps because I haven't seen the design in western world.

It was not really clear how the chisels hold in the holder and at what angle they are...

Mine are like at 60 degrees, maybe a bit too much but I could not manage to make the angle closer to 90 without the chisels falling down too much.

I glued, plane it, and brought it to my room

Sorry for the light, it was night already. A view from the side:

And a shot of my desk. It's not as neat as I want it yet but I'm getting there. One small victory each day.

Tomorrow I make the kanna holder and perhaps nail a piece of wood to hang the saws.  And start destroying the crap in the house downstairs.

First post: things changed and changing things

I was asked by the woman of customs what are you bringing. Tools for carpentry, I'm learning violin making (I was smuggling 4 violin bows so needed an excuse for that too). And for how long you stay?, she asked. I'm coming to stay, did my phd in Holland and now I come back after 6 years or so. Ok my darling, (in spanish she said "mi niño") for this time you can pass.

Like that I brought my 60 kilos of tools, boxes, stones and the few clothes I got to start a life here. Lessons learnt: I have too much stuff and smiling to old chilean women still works like a charm.

I last lived in this house:

My mother used to have a  garden in front of the house and there was not so much dirt around. That bench you see there is pretty much standing firewood.

In front of the house there was the rose garden, nothing fancy, just grass and a few roses where the trees are now. It looks dry

Inside, the living room is the the only thing I like. Except for the ikea lamps, that is. And the social housing iron window.

 Da roof.

Then you go into the "small room", it has a "closet" made by my dad. On the bottom you see the fucked up wall and humidity stains.

 This is one window one of the renters changed. Sturdy aluminium construction that almost doesn't leak.

From the small room you have access to the toilet and the sleeping room. That fake wall was not there so it made is slightly nicer and easy to walk, more gezellig too.

That's the bedroom wall with cables for tv something like a bookshelf. Good I left most of my books so I can take that out without remorse. I had to lighten up this picture, at 4pm it's kinda dark here already

 Now it get's better. The kitchen

Those blue "tiles"  are plastic. The white death cabinets need to go asap. There is some tile fixing to do in the back and perhaps do something with the ceiling?

 A clean corner with proper electric wiring

And more abstract painting with electricity

 This one is called "white on shite"

some presents the last guy renting here left.

I need a big container for all this crap, pardon, presents from last renter.

Ok, now a look at the outside for damage assessment

First wall is actually nice.

That's the place where I want to make a winter garden / greenhouse. Something glassy and woody and squarish on top of that nice concrete floor last renter made.

 Water management

Now going behind the house.  I remember this to be green. And there was a fucsia there.

or was it here? anyway now looks slightly dead

more water control over here.

And finally, we arrived at the japanese section of the house: the roof.

And some japanese wabi sabi cabinet for what do I know. I love the proportions of this all... next to it there is a big box with OSB cover. For keeping stuff I would guess.

last picture. I'm squatting the dinning table for my tools. Counted around 17 saws. I may have a problem.

Anyway, the house downstairs was a big bummer. Need to get rid of the trash asap and start building anew and properly.

To avoid depression and breakdown, permaculture guys always recommend to start from the core out, they call it zone 0. I'm trying to do that with my room in my dad's house, then move the workbench and workshop downstairs to have my own clean and ordered space. A room of your own as Virginia said. Once that is done I can start with the wiring and insulation, if you have any ideas about the latter please share. Then make windows for the house.

If you made it till here, congratulations.

So, new settings, new look. I changed the top of the blog and added some pages that I found interesting to stick up there. They will be updated soon.

Now it's time for some tea and get going with that cleaning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Last Post

Tout probleme humain demande a etre considere a partir du temps. L’ideal etant que toujours le present serve a construire l’avenir.
  Franz Fanon

In general, I try to distinguish between what one calls the future and “l’avenir.” The future is that which – tomorrow, later, next century – will be. There’s a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally un-expected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future beyond this other known future, it’s l’avenir in that it’s the coming of the Other when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival.
Jacques Derrida

What can be described can happen.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I arrived to my friend’s house to find that the “piano is not working”. That’s a very metaphysical question that reveals a certain relation of the person with the object. Or to bring Marx immediately into the conversation, is a sentence that shows that the piano is full of metaphysical niceties.

I had never opened a piano before, and without even my laptop to google it, after short inspection the full mechanism was in plain view. It took me a while to realize that the nobs at the sides were threaded and after taking them out, the whole mechanism was out of the piano and ready to be inspected in detail.  The guys tried to take a look and broke two of the leather straps that hold the action in place, I left the piano alone and went for dinner. After dinner, I took another look and realized that there was a small piece of red felt missing in the mechanism in the few keys that were not working. Next morning I went to the city, bought hide glue, red felt and a screwdriver for 60cents and in 15 minutes I had the first key back in game.

The not so metaphysical red felt

“What was the problem?” somebody asked. “There is a piece of felt missing in the action that doesn’t let the key move the back hammer.” What can be described can be fixed.

Compare the two sentences, on the one hand the piano doesn’t work, and on the other, there is a piece of felt missing in the action of keys 1, 14, 55, 59, and 79. The first sentence assumes the metaphysical dimension of the piano as something that exists independent of myself and that is out of order. There is nothing we can do, we need to call the expert (or leave it there for lack of money, as my friend did for a year and the previous owner for a few more). On the second case, you need hide glue, felt and a screw driver and 15 minutes per action to fix it. There is no metaphysical entity here, but simply something that needs glue.

Let’s look at this painting. I have no idea who made it, found it in a youtube video of some bach concerto or the like.

It’s the building of the city. Or the building of modernity if you want. A half dead tree in the front, stones and timber to build new houses. The sky. Street dogs and people passing by. Not any kind of people also. Rich merchants and a beggar; workers are nowhere to be seen, maybe in the back covered in dust.

The construction of modernity. The rich merchants were just building their houses but in truth they were creating the fertile ground for colonial expansion, death and ruthless capitalism around the globe.

I think of all this as the hours pass and the flight nears. The tools in my bag, the wood in the house, the people around... all the tasks my mind goes over and over again trying to organize the future to create something I cannot really foresee: l'avenir.


That was it. Now just wait for the plane (I'm boarding in 30min) and try to sleep some of the 18 hours that I will be in the air. See you on the other side of the pond. In the south one.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The revolution has started

One of the most surreal things for me with all this moving tools to and fro is that I get plenty of people in several parts of the world to do me favours. Murakami, Junji and Gary searching tools for me in Japan, crazy americans in the west coast forging stuff and now a Chilean chick waiting for my package and sending me pictures to see that everything arrived well and sound.

I don't think these are a first one, I know of a japanese carpenter in the south of Chile who made a japanese house in the land of the grand father of a friend of mine. Anyway, it feels pretty fucking cool to know that my tools are fine, waiting for me in far away lands and that they survived a week and a half in customs. And that the post works in that end of the world so the invasion can start.

The kanna is a blue steel, the slick is cheap one, there are some sharpening stones and the cocaine package from the right next to the glass is in fact a few blades and chipbreakers. My faithful 60&1/2 is there and also some bike tools.

I'm in the train going back to Enschede, visiting old friends. Before that I was in a shop in Amsterdam showing off my tools to a couple of furniture makers from there that I may visit monday again. Tonight I will celebrate, this is so fucking crazy that it may actually work out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shinglemaking at the world's end

I'm knackered.

After filing a 2m long saw and give it a test drive with some real hard oak, my body said we are closed for repairs till further notice. One smashed finger, blisters in my left hand, several straight cuts in my palm that I guess come from a very sharp plane but I really not remember when I made them.

I came to deliver a cross cut saw and "learn a bit of axe handling" but boy I didn't know what I was getting into. I felt home, for starters, and learnt a lot, but that was just the beginning. I will try to summarise these last 3 or 4 days, on the one hand to not forget and on the other because I think this was precisely the kind of coming together that el pueblo is missing and should start organising more often.

So, back in time to January. I had already bought my ticket from Amsterdam to SCL and was planning to spend some weeks in Holland as vacations, not for the food or the weather that much is clear. But the people. And since I was going to be around, why not drop by the shinglemaker's workshop so I offered a saw in return of some teaching and not long later we had organised a visit for april. Planes changed and I changed my plane ticket so I ended up coming one week before leaving to Chile. More time would have been awesome but in fact 4 days were pretty much all what my body could take; I seriously need to start training in Chile. Axe work training, that is.

 First day I cleaned a bit a saw that was laying around lonely and unused. One of these disposable blades sold as for hardwood

and modified a bit the raker teeth since I didn't like the factory back bevel. I also took a look at long 2men saw that hadn't seen a file in 25 years or so. And on top of that, last file it saw was more like raping than anything else, look at those gullets all flumfy womsy, that's no way to treat steel.

I tried one tooth and the steel looked nice, quite hard for a western saw and I kept it aside to give some attention to it one night when I would be free. In the nights I was either too tired to file or having a really good talk (and most probably both at the same time), so the saw had to wait till the last day for its resurrection.

Then we had two days of marking stems and squaring them with axes together with sharpening, trying tools, plenty of talking about building, materials, the world... plastering, cooking, coffee drinking, more sharpening, cutting, hewing, planing and what not. So much fun and everything flowing so well that there was no time to take pictures. Besides, having seen pictures of the workshop before and now being there showed me the poor representation that cameras can make of the phenomenon. I guess a haiku would be more telling, something along these lines:

Concerto for 4 hands 

It rains, 

blades sharpened while shavings fly

the sound of a world being made.

The third day I was getting real tired so I used photography and saw sharpening as a good excuse from real work.

I checked some of the japanese toys around the workshop, and there were nice surprises under the steel.

 Played with japan nats.

Really liked the hardness of this one but the finishing stone (in the right out of focus) was by far the sweetest candy of the store.

Checked "a pattern language" and really liked the section about the trimmings, of which there were abundant examples in the house.

 and had some fun with the two men saw.

Made proper gullets because a continuous surface has better harmonics according to my physicist instinct.

They also look kick ass, like if the guy filing knew what he was doing. (My personal theory is that if it looks nice, it feels nice.

The gullets are made wie so: First one side with a chain saw file

 and then the other side with the file in the opposite direction

you see, I can sharpen western saws too. I used a japanese tsuboman 175mm feather file to file the saw's bevels, I knew they would be useful one day. I chipped the file when doing one of the tooth of the edges but overall the file has maybe 2 more uses before being dull, and I only used half of it, so it should give you 4 sharpening per file.

A look to the full saw. I tried to have a nice pointy edge on the top.

We took it outside for a 40cm diameter oak piece. I think it took us 5 minutes, the saw was eating oak like I was eating chips at lunch.

and the surface left by the saw

Indeed it felt really nice, the saw just wanted to eat more and more of that oak. We did it in one go and after that I was done so started packing things back.

Here is a random japanese chisel treated to some japanese silica before going into the bag. I cannot get that finish with my stones.

and the pictures that Jason was asking for, plaster work. The back side, the plaster needs to flood the net

and the front side.  I just did a 1/4 of this wall, my finger was too swollen to push clay the second day so instead I made the handle of the last post.

What I loved of this weekend, besides the beautiful house, the good food and the great conversations, was the spirit of it. This was not a course in hewing or saw sharpening, it was more like two guys sharing with each other the way each one make things, and taking what you found worth taking, which in my case was a lot.

Now I'm back in the Rijks, eating fancy food and listening to artist talk all over. Amsterdam is sunny and cars just pass by, direction nowhere. Here, it's business as usual. But I know of a different place, not far from here, where things are done in the good way. I guess those places will end up saving us. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Handle it

I smashed my finger yesterday so today was rustig work.

The morning started with shaping some kiri.

A bit more...

And tadan! I have a new handle for my favourite saw.

 The wood is really light, the whole thing is just over the 200 grams. Beautiful to hold, slightly wider than the average japanese handle so it fits my swollen finger.

A closeup to the texture:

And a closeout of the place where I am now... more on that later.

The handle was finished with an uzukuri, the japanese polisoir. This creates a really nice texture since the soft parts of the kiri wood go down and the hard stays up, so there is much more grip on the handle than the nicely mirror sanded ones I used to make. Rough and sexy kiri me liky.

If the reader has be looking carefully, he knows already where I am at the moment. If not, next week will know. Slaap lekker jongen.