Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stair making

You know when you say ok let's try this just to see how it works?

I may actually use the tryout in the real stairs. I like the way this is developing:

This is tha real thing drawing:

And this guy explains pretty dam well how to make that drawing.

I just could not understand the drawing so decided to make a real size model. The handrail is at my mom's house, and my tools at my dad's, so I made a rough sketch of the size needed and came here to try it out. I didn't really use a proper drawing since we want to change a bit the height of the rails, so perfect excuse to fit everything to the turn and not the other way around. I marked the orientation of the rail (Fig.2 in previous image) at either end of the wood, and then draw the line by hand, I can see very well where it's still not right, you don't really need to draw everything if you know what you are looking for. I'm looking for a smooth handrail, like the one we had in Graz. Fuck the angles, the lines and second derivative of the surface, you can feel when things are ok, and this feels like a rail, if a bit rough in some parts.

I'm doing everything with a spoke shave and a vice. The worst is how to grab this thing.

It would be real cool to have planes made for this curvature, for both concave and convex regions, however that would only work for constant pitch handrails. This method allows you to work in any kind of handrail, so it's one or the other.

6 months ago I could not even think of this turn, it was just too much for me. Now I see and I make it, and I see it because I'm making it. Feels like I'm learning. And I'm pretty sure this is the first handrail turn made in chile in the last 50 years at least. I'm opening a repair shop in Valparaiso when I come back, repair old poor houses the way it used to be done, with vino at lunch. Or teach kids in a technical school to make this. You don't need a phd in physics to understand it, you need someone to tell you that you can do it and show you how, and be there while you practice it. When I teach my students to sharpen saws I don't tell me "look, this is actually impossible, so don't even think about doing it yourself, you need your whole life to understand it, but anyway let's try it", I tell them "this is done like this and like that, now you try it. No, that's wrong, do it like this, do it like that. Done. Now try the next side." And the guy is ready to start sharpening saws for the rest of his life. Imagine a course where in high school you learn this no bullshit woodworking: it's not the tools nor the money, it's your skill and knowledge, and you see, after 5 days you are already making rabetted dadoed half blinded splice joints. What the oldies managed to do seems impossible to reproduce to us because we have become used to a different world, a world where only money moves things, and we tend to think we need money, big machines and a fat car to make things happen. But if you show people what's possible to do by yourself, without all the crap, they just get used to it, and they do it. I'm really tired of what seem to be a bunch of little egos trying to make things appear more difficult than what they are, mystifying knowledge and selling mambo yambo and powdered steels. We are just doing stuff that man has being doing since at least the Egyptians, rubbing metal with stone so we can cut some wood into a straight line or a curve — and that's all. Our bodies are made to make this shit happen.

Ok, I could have foresee that a glue line on the top is a bit stupid, but I didn't have rauli that wide.


  1. Cool! And well said, our bodies rejoice to make this shit happen, and you sleep well at night. I think about how some people look at a tree and see fire wood, those like us look and see tables and shoji and beautifully planed surface, all because we can see the lines to cut it best.

    1. A parable I heard once described three men. One saw the tree as lumber, one saw it as firewood for the cold winter, and one saw it as a tree.

      That's really all I remember. I can't really remember the moral behind it, I think it was about seeing things for what they are and admiring them for it.

  2. I searched a little for the parable you describe, can't find it. Try to remember where you heard it and see if you can find the original, it sounds interesting.

    1. I think it may have been in Rediscovering Catholicism...I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere, it could be one of the parables in the Sunday missalette. If so...Then the parable is probably lost.

      If you want woodworking with your parables, Joshua: A Parable for Today is a good parable. A lot of the novel revolves around how Joshua works, his humble attitude about his mastery of his craft, and how people view his shop. I can slightly remember one quote, "There is more detail in a wing of a bird than in a six foot statue of Moses." I probably mangled that quote.

      Joshua has had a big impact on me, overall. “He was always ready to stop what he was doing and spend a few minutes socializing. It was almost as if that was his real business.” Ha, maybe the parable is in Joshua!

  3. See pg 17 - 18 for one version of a tree story; pg 80 - 85 for other versions;


    This book has got me through some heavy times, pg. 113 on knowing.