Fall Season of Seminars at Lee Valley

Today is the first day of September.  For many, that means school is starting soon; for me, that means a new season of seminars is here.  In the fall season of seminars (September to November), I am leading six seminars at the Coquitlam Lee Valley store.

Things get going quickly for me, as I’m scheduled to present two of the first three seminars (Jigs for the Bandsaw and Jigs for the Table Saw) within the first week of September.

I’m looking forward to teaching the new seminars I’ve developed, Fundamentals of Hand Tool Joinery and Understanding Wood Grain.  I think that these two seminars alone provide the skills and knowledge to go far in woodworking.

I am particularly excited about Working with Wood: Nurturing, Creating, Realizing Ideas because I am leading the seminar along with the always-fun and ever-so-creative, Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs, (he and I presented together at PechaKucha Night and exhibited next to each other at Port Moody’s Celebration of Wood Fair).


The Scrub Plane Build-Off

One night last week, fellow planemaker Scott Meek and I were discussing scrub planes.  Neither of us had ever built one and so we began a Scrub Plane Build-Off right then and there.

Scott’s plane was resawn, then laminated back together, the same way he makes the rest of his hand planes.  Here are the specs for his plane:

  • Body:  old-growth white oak
  • Length:  8″
  • Width:  2.5″
  • Weight:  1 lb – 10.5 oz (753 grams)
  • Blade width:  1-3/4″
  • Radius of blade: 4″
Scott Meek Scrub Plane2

Photo by Scott Meek

Scott Meek Scrub Plane1

Photo by Scott Meek

I opted for a hand-tool oriented approach, mortising the body with chisels.  I knew that my scrub plane would see considerable hard use so I incorporated a lignum vitae sole.

  • Body:  yellow birch with lignum vitae sole
  • Length:  7″
  • Width:  2.5″
  • Weight:  1 lb-4 oz (567 grams)
  • Blade width:  1-3/4″
  • Radius of blade: 3″

Scrub Plane

I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtags #FlairWW and #ScrubPlaneBuildOff (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 4:14).

Veritas Inset Plane

I was asked to make a wooden body for a Veritas Inset Plane for demonstration purposes at Lee Valley’s Coquitlam showroom.  Along with a basic instruction sheet, this is what was in the box.

Inset Plane

Completing the plane was a neat project that only required a few hours, so I took the opportunity to do a Tweet-Along as I built a wooden chamfering body for the Inset Plane.

Chamfer Plane

I documented my progress live on Twitter using hashtag #FlairWW (follow me @FlairWoodworks) which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.  I compiled the photos and Tweets into a video (duration – 5:55).

No Rest For The Weary

It seems that the idea of starting my business this year might just become a reality.  While my weekly hours at Lee Valley hover around 40, my shop hours are probably over 20.  On days where I work at Lee Valley, I spend little time in the shop as I am often too tired to work (safely).  On my “days off”, I work as long in the shop as possible.  Not because I feel I need to, but because that’s what I do.  Besides, there is so much to be done.

One of my objectives to be completed before starting my business is to have the shop cleaned up and organized.  Anyone who has a shop (or a living space, for that matter) knows how hard that is!  I am proud to say that I am winning the war.  I have purged much of the accumulated junk in my shop and found a home for what is useful (or will be somewhere down the line).

A few major shop projects remain.  I need to build a cabinet to store tools and supplies.  The shelves I have currently held up by metal brackets just don’t cut it.  The don’t have the same weight capacity with a given depth.  I also need to build a base cabinet and table extensions for my miter saw.  Right now it’s sitting on a Workmate with a small extension I cobbled together.  I suppose I should put the doors on the cabinets which I built two years ago.

The last project is also the most anticipated – a new workbench.  Right now I have some massive pieces of crotch cherry in the garage which will become the legs.  I’ll laminate up a top and drop it onto the legs.  I would really like a set of drawers below the bench, like a shaker style workbench, but the shape of the crotch doesn’t permit that.  I may make a fine table with the cherry and use something else for the bench.

Pedestal Rendering

I currently have one commision in progress – an Arts and Crafts Pedestal.  It’s being built of solid Red Oak.  Another, a dart board cabinet, is on hold pending the completion of the pedestal an my learning how to use my new Leigh Dovetail jig which I have yet to test.  It comes with an extensive manual which I just finished reading.

Leigh D4

I am now in the market for a new router (or two!).  Somewhere down the road, I would like to build a bowl turning lathe, which has no bed.  This allows a very large bowl to be turned, but more importantly, has no bed or tailstock to be in the way of the ideal position.  I will likely use a 2HP-2-3/4HP motor and a pair of stepped pulleys to turn the spindle.

Bowl Turning Lathe

Where I Am, How I Got Here, And Where I Want To Be

Right now, I hold a part time job at a little Canadian company known as Lee Valley Tools.  I work as the Shipper/Receiver Mondays through Wednesdays and as an Order Picker (Salesperson) here and there when I’m needed.  I also have submitted two articles to two different Canadian magazines, both of which focus on woodworking.  Check out the pictures of my completed projects and watch for one of them on the magazine stand in the next few months!  (I’ll let you know when!).  I also build custom furniture in my basement using my expansive collection of tools.  Every piece of furniture I build I also design myself.  I’ve also been known to do other types of woodwork (trim carpentry, framing, etc) as well as the occasional metal work.

I’ve been into woodworking for a long time… probably 10 years or so.  I have been seriously into woodworking for four years and show no signs of slowing down.  In middle school we all had to take Tech. Ed., where we learned some of the basics of woodworking.  In high school, I took every course available in woodworking (6 programs, I believe) as well as four courses in drafting.  I graduated in ’05 with the bare minimum for everything else:  Math 11, Chem 11, Socials 11, English 12.  I did, however, complete the grade 12 French program, just to keep the university doors open as well as a few business classes.

Right now, I’m considering attending a post secondary school.  There is a world-renowned woodworking school up on the Sunshine Coast which I would love to attend.  However, the 9-month course costs $15,000 plus the cost of living.  Perhaps I can live without it.  My second choice is at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).  It’s called Advanced Woodworking & Furniture Design.  It costs $7,800 for the one year class.  The local technical school, BCIT, offers a course in woodwork, but is geared towards production work.  Nothing wrong with feeding a board through a machine and having a table come out the other end, but why on earth would someone want to do that for a living?

I’ve been giving some serious thought to starting up my own business lately and am weighing my options.  Perhaps I should wait a couple years.

It seems I know exactly where I want to go in life, but don’t know when to go or how to get there.