Author Archives: Frank Strazza

Lie-Nielsen Show This Weekend, Dallas TX.

Cherry Shavings

Are your planes producing shavings like this?!! Come join us this weekend in Dallas Texas at Woodworld for a Lie-Nielsen Handtool event and learn how you can produce shavings like I was producing just a couple days ago, planing cherry for a table base.

First you need a good plane, and in my opinion Lie-Nielsen is one of the best out there. Then you need some good advice on how to sharpen and use the tools. We will be there to offer advice on how to sharpen and use handtools. You will find the Lie-Nielsen staff to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable in helping you choose the right tool for your woodworking.

We will also be demonstrating how to hand-cut half blind dovetails and the best way to use your hand planes, we will even do some inlay work as well.

You can see some of the different projects that you can make in one of our upcoming workshops including the blanket chest.

You won’t want to miss Lynn Dowd, who along with his wife Tracy, bring a great collection of vintage tools, come early to pick through the lot. Tracy always has a fresh pot of coffee going and she might even bring one of her homemade pies too!

Woodworld will be hosting the show. This is a great opportunity to stock up on some of that special hardwood for your next project!

The show is this Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12. It will be held at Woodworld next to Texas Instruments off of HW 75 in Dallas. Click on the Link for Directions.

Lie-Nielsen Planes

 

Frank Strazza

Craftsman Rocker

 

Well we survived another Craftsman Rocking Chair class! Now there are five more people who understand why quality furniture costs so much! We pushed hard the whole class so we wouldn’t have to leave at midnight on Saturday.

I’ve been realizing how much the majority of people have absolutely no idea how much work it takes to build a handmade quality piece of furniture. It’s a good thing this kind of furniture can pass from generation to generation! (It’s not something your going to find at the local furniture factory). Not only can you keep the rocking chair in the family for generations, but you made it yourself with your own hands! I find that very rewarding.

Also you will probably be happy to hear we just installed a piece of non-glare glass to go in front of the video screen. It’s going to help a lot when you can actually see what the camera is focused on instead of the reflection of the front door every time a visitor walks in!

Finished rocking chairs

Monday we made the front frame; mortises, (some where done on the machine… sorry Frank) tenons, the tenon that passes through the arm, cut the arch, planed, scraped and sanded all the parts, then glued up.

Cutting the top tenon on the front post

Glueing the front frame

 Tuesday we started on the back frame, doing mortises, tenons and fitting.

Wednesday was spent cutting the mortises that house the back slats and fitting them in place, final fitting of the tenons, and finally glued it up.

Trimming the shoulders of the support rails

 Thursday was angled tenons! If you want to get confused come learn about them! We cut and fit each angled tenon, checking and double checking to make sure they had been laid out correctly before cutting.

Laying out the side rails

Humm… What’s for lunch?

 Friday we glued up the side rails connecting the back frame with the front frame, and started the arms.

Shaping the arm

 Saturday we finished the arms, cut the legs to length and made the tenons that fit into the rockers. Then cut the mortises into the rockers and fit them.

Planing the rockers

Cutting the legs to length

Finally get to relax!

 A happy chair owner!

Enjoy your chairs,

Jonathan Schwennesen 

Blanket Chest Course Completed

 

I have been meaning to write about this class for a while but you know how time seems to slip by without you knowing!

We recently finished a wonderful blanket chest course, with 4 students completing their chests. They were made with cherry as the primary wood and curly maple as the panel wood. The sides were all dovetailed by hand. The top is mortise-and-tenoned with the raised panels, which were all handplaned. Our next class is scheduled and can be found right here.

Dawn was making hers as a wedding gift. I suggested that she inlay the couples name in the lid. I helped her out by cutting out the name in marquetry using a fret saw and my chevalet.

 

She went ahead and inlaid the oval into the inside of the panel at her home shop. The primary wood is curly cherry with maple letters.  Dawn sent along these pictures showing her finished work. I think it turned out wonderful!

 

I hope to do a simple marquetry class in the near future, where you will learn how to cut simple designs and even do some lettering as well. Stay tuned to our blog for that. And don’t forget, if you have not signed up to receive the blog via email please do so by clicking the link on the right hand side of this page or you can simply click right here!

Frank Strazza

 

The Woodworking Shows in Dallas Oct. 25-27

Woodworking show boothThe Woodworking Shows will be kicking off their season this year starting in Dallas Texas. The doors open this weekend at noon on Friday, October 26th. We will be there showing YOU what you can make in any one of our classes, from dovetails to inlay, setting up handplanes to four-squaring lumber by hand! We will have lots of our furniture on display to fill up the booth.

Demo at woodworking Show

The shows are under new ownership and the new owners really want to breathe some new life into the shows, so I am certain it will be a great show with lots of vendors and classes to teach and inspire. Please come out and participate and do your part by making it another wonderful woodworking show. We look forward to seeing all of you again and making some new friends.

The show is this weekend Friday, October 25 through Sunday, October 27. For more information and directions click here.

See you in Dallas Texas!

Frank Strazza

 

The Story of Texas Furniture Exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all of you in or around Austin Texas, you might want to check out a great exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The Exhibit will be running for only 2 more weeks, through October 6. The museum has done a wonderful job pulling together some very fine Texas made furniture pieces from around the Lone Star State.

 

 

The museum asked us to do a video for them on the process of building a Texas style table using 19th century tools and techniques.

The video has been playing at the museum non-stop since July 13 when the exhibit opened.

I do wish I would have notified you all about this earlier but I have been doing a lot more work out of my home shop building commissions and have not had much time to write. Maybe if I have time I will write a little about some of my recent work, but don’t hold your breath! I have recently done a set of chairs, a set of entry doors, workbenches and more to go!

Back to the museum, and the video. I sure enjoyed the filming of the video. It was about a 6 hour shoot, with no talking, just tool noise. We filmed it in one of our restored 18th century barns. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect. I tried to use only 19th century tools, or what the Texas craftsman would have been using while building the furniture that is at the exhibit.

Here is a picture of the filming.

 

I highly encourage you to get over to the museum. Here is some more information. In case you can’t get over be sure to check out the video that we did by clicking the link right here. Thanks to the incredibly talented filming crew at sustainlife productions for pulling it off and distilling 6 hours of footage down to 7 minutes of video!

If you get over to the museum you will also get to see the actual table that I made during the filming process on display at the museum. And if you want to buy one, you can by clicking right here.

Frank Strazza

Sharpening Class Update (Video)

We had a great time at the sharpening class and we sure missed you all! I know it was July 4th weekend, making it hard for most people to get away, so I put together this short little video clip to show you what you missed! One fellow brought his Dad’s whole collection of Record planes, it was a nice set to say the least!

We sharpened planes, chisels, saws, scrapers and even talked about sharpening rasps and files. Here is a short clip from the saw sharpening part of the day.

This is really my first attempt at this video editing software so please excuse my amateurish approach. I did get a comment asking for some video clips so here goes. I hope to put up some more video clips in the future, now that I know how to do it. I plan to post some little how to clips and some more shots of the classes in action.

Enjoy!

 


Frank Strazza

Are Your Tools Sharp?

SHARPENING CLASS THIS FRIDAY, JULY 5th

chisels

Recently while I was working in my shop building some furniture, I found myself standing over the sharpening stone, trying to get yet another “perfect edge”. Once the edge was sharp, I thought to myself, “I think one of my favorite things about woodworking is a freshly sharpened tool!” I will admit that I don’t particularly like the process, it can be messy and takes time away from what I would rather be doing, and that is using the sharp tool.  But I will say, after 20 plus years of doing this, the joy of a freshly sharpened tool is still as fresh today as it was 20 years ago, possibly even more so now because I have learned better how to get that “perfect edge”.

Why am I writing all this? It is my hope that your tools are sharp too. I hope that you have the confidence to go to the stone, and take just a few minutes away from your project to sharpen; I know the results will amaze you.  And you if you don’t feel the confidence to sharpen, I highly encourage you to come take a sharpening class with us.

This upcoming Friday the 5th we will have a hands on sharpening course. In this course we will cover how to sharpen chisels, planes, spokeshaves, handsaws and even scrapers. You won’t have to just listen to me talk about it; you will get your hands in the action and sharpen your own tools.

So if you are still struggling with getting that “perfect edge” than pack up some of your tools, sign up for the class and head down to our shop this Friday for a day of sharpening.

To sign up for the class click on the link, SHARPENING CLASS.  I hope to see you back in the shop!

Frank Strazza

shavings

 

New Site and Some Old News!

 

New Woodworking Website

We recently revamped our whole woodworking website and changed it over to our main website www.sustainlife.org. It is our hope that it will be easier to navigate the different classes and there will be more information easily available to you. We hope to update it with more pictures of the different classes as well as a complete gallery of some of our work. We have a huge selection of work that we have done and that our students have done so we hope we can share it with you.

For all of our blog subscribers, you received an email with the past several blog posts including A Lie-Nielsen show this weekend. Please note, that is OLD news. There is NOT a show this weekend! What happened is that when we switched over to the new site, Feed-burner thought all those blog posts that you all already recieved were new posts. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Now that we have that out of the way, I encourage you to go check out the new site. Let us know what you think. Please post any comments or suggestions below. Also if you see a class that you are interested in but does not have a set date, let us know here. If we have enough interest we will post a date.

We have some other great changes happening in the shop that I will update you on soon, so stay tuned!

Frank Strazza

Lie-Nielsen Event this Weekend

 

 

If you live in Dallas and you are looking for something to do this weekend, stop by Woodworld.

Lie-Nielsen will be having a handtool event along with Kevin Drake and Lynn Dowd.

We will be there as well, demonstrating everything from dovetails to inlay!

I will show you how to do stringing, how to inlay a star, how to cut a tapered sliding dovetail and how to cut half blind dovetails.

Lynn Dowd has a huge selection of vintage tools all at a great price. Here is a sneak preview.

Of course Lie-Nielsen has nearly every single tool that they make on display for you to get your hands on and try out.

Kevin Drake will be selling his great cutting/marking gauges as well as demonstrating and selling his new line of turning tools. Rumor has it that David with Northern Custom Hardwoods will be there on Saturday selling some of his walnut. If you want to see some incredible walnut boards you should definitely come by, this man has some amazing wood!

The show is this weekend April 12 and 13 at Woodworld. Click here for the address and the hours. I hope to see you there!

Frank Strazza

Marking Versus Cutting Gauge

 

 

This past week we had a fine keepsake box class and cut many dovetails. We used the cutting gauge for marking the depth of the pins and tails so I would like to take this opportunity to iron out any confusion there may be in regards to a cutting gauge versus a marking gauge. Obviously, a marking gauge is for marking and a cutting gauge is for cutting!

More in depth, a good cutting gauge has a knife blade in it, and a marking gauge simply has a pin. The question is: why wouldn’t you just use a marking gauge for marking out your dovetails? The answer lies in which grain direction we are marking. When laying out dovetails you always mark across the grain. If I use a standard marking gauge with a pin as shown in the picture; working across the grain; we will be scratching the surface and tearing the fibers, leaving an unsightly line.

 

 

On the other hand if I use a cutting gauge, which has a single bevel knife blade as opposed to a pin; it cuts and severs the cross grain fibers, leaving a beautifully clean and crisp line across the fibers, as shown in the picture.

 

 

So what purpose does the marking gauge have? As a general rule the marking gauge, (which has a pin) is used exclusively with the grain. Most marking gauges are also set up as mortise gauges and will have double pins. Mortises are marked with the grain therefore a pin is not at all a problem. The cutting gauge is most often used across the grain but still can be used with the grain. In the past I have sharpened my marking gauge pin to a knife-edge; the problem with this is that you have to make a double bevel which forces the fibers on either side of the bevel.

My cutting gauge has a bevel on one side only, thus leaving a crisp hard edge with the bevel facing the waste side.  A bevel will always bruise the wood; therefore you always want to have the bevel facing the waste side.

 

 

I also use the cutting gauge when I am working on cross banding and inlay. It really is my secret weapon for hand tool woodworking. I used it extensively when I made the rose table for cutting across the grain prior to inlay and cutting cross banding to size.

Now the question, where do you find a good gauge?  There are a few cutting gauges out on the market, but most are not well made, unless of course, you want to spend a lot of money. Check these out here!

The main problem that I have found with less expensive gauges is that the blades are not configured correctly, that is, they are not sharpened to the right shape. The other problem that I have found is that the wedge that holds the blade in place does not offer a good positive hold.

Faced with the quandary of needing several gauges for a recent dovetail class, I decided to just make some. Here is the finished gauge, and it works fabulously! I hope to write an article on how to make your own, so stay tuned. In the mean time, we are working on a tool making class which will include making your own cutting gauge. We will keep you posted on the details.