Acknowledgment: I thank Ms. Barbara Russ of the Sloane-Stanley Museum for allowing me to take photographs for publication on this blog. Although her official title is not “Curator”, she demonstrates the knowledge and research ability to be the Museum Curator.
I grew up with power tools around me. And power tools are still prevalent in my shop, although I started incorporating hand tools into my work in the last 2 years or so.
During our visit to the Sloane-Stanley Museum in October 2010 I finally felt the impact that hand tools had in our craft, and in the way things were done “in the old days”. Hand tools were the only way. Tell that to a baby boomer city boy! Today, some still use the methods of old, for various reasons; as a recent example, I invite you to read Peter Follansbee’s entry of early February 2010 in his joiner’s notes, “pitsawing”. Peter wrote:
“…Today the kids & I went for a walk, and stumbled upon this scene. They turned to me and said it seemed like something out of a Bruegel painting…”
During their walk the had stumbled upon the Museum’s carpenters pitsawing an oak (as I mentioned in an earlier article, Peter works at the Plimoth Plantation’s Living History Museum). I am still digesting what his children said…Brilliant!
The following are two images of the same wall display of saws at the Sloane-Stanley Museum. To give you a sense of scale, I guessed the pit saw is approximately 8 feet long. I was fascinated by the variety of bow saws, especially (I own, use, and love a bow saw, too):
Hopefully this angle shot will help discern some additional details:
On more mundane things, and back to reality this morning, my finishing tip for today:
Use wax-free shellac: As you know by now, I primarily use waterborne coatings; I don’t have an explosion-proof spray booth in the finishing room, so using waterborne materials is what I do. But for the times I use either red oak or white oak in my projects, I have found it essential to use an alcohol-based shellac to seal the wood surfaces. This is important: red and white oak are high in tannin content. As a result, avoid high-pH waterborne coatings directly on the raw wood surface of high-tannin woods like red and white oak, as pin-holing and bridging of the coating are likely to develop. This would make it difficult to get a nice, smooth finish. To avoid this problem, I recommend the use of a wax-free shellac:
I would like to hear from you regarding your process to finish a project:
- Do YOU us waterborne coatings?
- If you do, which are your favorite materials?
— Al Navas