Monday, August 3, 2015

Keiran's comments

I sent a mail today to Keiran with some reading material, a post of what tools to use/basic woodworking kind of question. This is what he answered me, and save for the sharpening gear (he uses western planes atm) I think the choices are quite wise.

Well, I like your way of thinking better, start with the hand tool skills because you can always apply those. The machines are great if you have the space. That being said, the community college woodwork is a great idea. Or these days there are shared workshop options [not yet in Chile though]. 
I'd cut it right back, and make it as minimal as you can get away with. For instance:
Sharpening stone 500 and ?800) and then a wet/oil sandpaper for sharpening (1200) and a flat thing like a tile or glass.
Chisels - probably 2 is the minimum.  A fatty (3/4 or 1inch) and a skinny (~1/4inch)
Saws - the one that I'm borrowing [old disposable 240mm ryoba] is ideal with the rip and the crosscut teeth. Im not gonna be cutting 4x4s or bigger so I can get away with it. Most people would be the same if they're just starting out.
Planes - even tho the Chinese [jack plane] I have is a piece of shit, it was easy to get working and like you said, it's fairly good for general use. Quick to sharpen but quick to get blunt. It's enough to get started anyway. It doesn't take long to realise that the sharper and flatter your plane, the finer you can make the surface. 
A bench of some sort. My one is just two 10x3/4 pine beams screwed together. I rest that on a ledge. Fine for cutting, planing, sharpening etc.
The fact is, I'll eventually replace the crap that I have bought. It was only intended for 5 years while I'm living in chile. They will probably break or wear out and if so, I can look at some upgrades. A wise salesperson one told me - "buy it once, buy it right" 
Hunting for tools in the persa biobio is fucking great however I was a bit clueless when I went on my own. I wouldn't recommend it to newbies. 
So far on tools I've spent:
Bauker drill set 35000 (includes hammer, drillbits, Allen keys, wrenches... ) 
Saw 7000 "professional"
Redline chisel set 8000 (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1) [cheap chinese chrome-moli chisels]
Half rounded Rasp 4500
Adjustable square 8200 (hate it but it's JUST acceptable)
Wood glue 1L 3000
Poly coat 1L 21000 (protect the pine from weather for the plant wall)
Sharpening stones 18000 (the one from MDZ and a cheapie)
Triangular file - 3000
Sandpaper - 2000.                        109.700 so far
Persa - 
Chisel 4000 (broken)
Chisel 3000
Plane 8000 little block [french blade, argentinean body. I need to post about this beauty, the body feels like ebony but looks like sexy rosewood...]
Plane 5000 cheap Chinese 
Plane 12000 large block [fore plane, Peugeot Freres if I'm not mistaken]
Beams clamp 4000.                       +36.000

~145.000 (ca. 250 USD) Not too bad I suppose. The polycoat could've been avoided but I was reading ages ago about what to use for outdoor weather protection and I leaned towards poly. 
I think if I was earning a regular income, it's fine. I just wanted to start 'doing' without any advice, I just went out and started getting what I thought I needed. 
In hindsight, after having done a workshop like yours, it's a lot easier to distinguish quality tools from disposable ones. And most people, given the option, would opt for quality that will last longer and be appreciated.

 Thanks Keiran!


  1. This is great Sebastian! I've been wondering what advice to give people looking to get into woodworking from nothing. The stones are the hardest part in some ways. How did it go having the students use your stones? I have a cheap hardware store combination stone, ten USD, and then a set of Shapton synthetics worth 100 times as much. The funny thing is I rarely use more than three: 220 diamond plate, 1000, and 6000. My stones were literally the first quality shit I put money into, I have a hard time recommending sandpaper/glass or some such.

    Did you sharpen standing or on the ground?

    1. standing or sitting in a small stool. Now in Valpo we will use a sink that's a bit higher, belly height.

      I got the set of diamond stones from china that Jason was looking into back in the day, and for western blades works a treat. Also, students don't need 6000, they are too stupid to properly sharp or use the tools so no point on over sharpening for them. We are trying this weekend sandpaper since there is plenty here from the stone workshop. Jose is buying one of those cheap china whetstones, in a month hopefully I can try it and review. It's 20 bucks so it would be a great starter stone.

      I just tried the posture of sharpening squatting, and your centre is lower so I imagine there is more stability to it. Knees hurt though.

    2. I'm usually standing at the water barrel when I'm sharpening, but kneeling gets your body weight nicely centered over the stones. It makes concentrating your force right at the cutting edge MUCH easier, leading naturally to a proper flat bevel. You don't need to push as hard it feels. I need to put a rolled up towel under that area where your shoes lace (whatever that's called, haha ), but then it's actually comfortable. For a bit anyways.

  2. I've been looking at joinery options for water tight sharpening pond. I finally got a copy of "Just Enough" by Brown and it has an illustration of a traditional wooden rectangular sink (on the floor of course) that uses half sliding dovetails and the bottom in a groove. But there's no way to assemble that. I've been looking and the closest example I found was a sharpening pond with tapered sliding dovetail on the sides. The bottom edges of the sides have a piece of wire pounded down into them and then removed, and then the edges are planed down to the level of the compressed fiber. The bottom is simply nailed on, t&g paneling if necessary. When the water swells the compressed fiber, it seals.

    Have you come across any good examples of water tight joinery without a nailed bottom? I know theres a Chris Hall hopper that he used as a sharpening pond, but no notes on the joinery.

    1. I think that the "groove" would be similar to how a barrel end is set. I've seen lots of images and video of Japanese bucket makers, and they use a croze to cut a special groove, then hammer the bottom in last. Do it perfect and it would be watertight.

      Do it like me, and you get a sieve, haha.

      I remember the hammered wire trick, but can't place it. Could you help me with a reference? I remember reading it and thinking "God! Of course, how elegant!"

    2. Frank Klausz technique. Actually I've yet to look at what else this guy has done, brilliant through!

  3. I love this topic. I have people tell me all the time they are too overwhelmed to start wood working. I suggest either the diamond plate or the wet sandpaper for sharpening eventhough I tell them they will most likely want stones as they progress. The list given above is very similar to the list I suggest. I also tell them to learn sharpening first. I tell them to not build a "masterpiece" at first. I suggest they build something like a sawhorse or stepstool with mostly 90degree cuts then add bevels later. I would love to teach classes for beginners and especially to women (with the help of my wife).

    1. I got 1 girl actually, for september. I'm totally surprised about that, I'm very curious how it will be.

      I was thinking to design a saw horse with a few more cuts, so it's more like a sawing exercise, I haven't done it yet though, should do it before saturday.

    2. The stone pond I've used since 1999 is made out of Redwood, has mitered but joints glued with alphinetic resin (yellow carpenters glue), with 0.5" ply bottom set in a rabbit and glued. 7 coats of Spar Varnish. On the last page of:

      there is a bad photo.

      Yataiki had one shaped like this but of fired, glazed, clay.