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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Mastery Criteria

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  • Jerry Harder
    one of the few times I feel truly right with the world is when I am working wood Boy have I heard that song. Perhaps because my laurel is for wine-making, Or
    Message 1 of 23 , Aug 22, 2013
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      "one of the few times I feel truly right with the world is when I am working wood" 

      Boy have I heard that song. Perhaps because my laurel is for wine-making, Or because mundanely I am a machinist, I feel less need for using all hand tools, or perhaps since the project I have been working on the last 5 years (The Great Machine aka dog powered tread-wheel) has several hundred hours built into it each year even with the use of power tools and I envision it “finished” 10 or 15 years from now, I feel less need to do it all by hand.  This project is well defined.  All the joints, materials, and so on are period with few exceptions.  There are  some exceptions- such as c-clamps holding yet to be completed bearings in place, button head cap screws instead of nails because the 3 tons of machine and equipment must be dissembled and reassembled and transported repeatedly. Most of the machinery is constructed of wood I harvested myself, the frame work has more concessions. I defiantly feel a time crunch because I average about 7 shifts a week and sometimes I work 8 and others I go to events. If I were to hand carve every piece it wouldn't exist. It does not, like the Leonardo de Vinci exhibit traveling the country, have arc welded brackets holding it together, and although smaller than most medieval machines, it is not a model. Ultimately it will be a demonstration of late period power tools. As it grows and evolves I learn. The first tool was a grinding wheel for sharpening my tools. The second was bellows for forging, casting, and smelting. The third tool was a barrel to tumble and soften the period made leather to finish the bellows which are not yet finished. Yet to be made is at least one of the three different styles of power hammers I can document, a saw mill for making boards, lathe for wood, spindle lathe for metal screws. The list grows about two machines for every one I finish. This years project is 10 boxes 10” X 15” X 25” and and a period looking cabinet to hold and organize tools and sundries that will aid in transporting and organizing- and anything else I can get done. By 2015 I hope to be able to take no blacksmithing tools I have not made except anvil. Do I use a snag grinder and bench grinder to rough out or in at times? Yes! Perhaps it is more of a design and engineering project than a period wood or metal project, but it is designed to look period beyond some small finish issues. MOST OF ALL THE GREAT MACHINE IS A TEACHING TOOL. It was made to show what period power tools were like. Should I have delayed this project to the point of possibly never getting it made. Should I, as a laurel for 23 years, be embarrassed by the craftsmanship when so many of my fellow laurels are sitting on theirs? Mine is a project that when I started talking about it, people looked at me like I had two heads. (And maybe three) I could make a box, and all the necessary tools to do so, (planes files, saws, chisels, scrapers) in a few months. Should I be doing that instead? As I ramble on, and I question what is it I am really trying to say, and it finely comes to me:


      It is not ones ability to understand ones craft that makes one a laurel.

      It is not ones ability to practice ones craft that makes one a laurel.


      It is ones ability to help others understand and practice ones and possibly any craft that makes one a laurel.


      This statement necessarily includes all the peerage qualities not necessary associated with craftsmanship.


      Gerald Goodwine



      On 8/21/2013 6:44 AM, nelsonhaynes@... wrote:
       

      Sorry for jumping in mid stream. I have been too distracted to keep up with e mail.

       

      First, when you see a laurel, you have seen just one laurel. We are all unique.

       

      As a member of the most ancient and honorable order of the laurels in woodworking, I don’t consider myself a real master. I consider myself a pretty good craftsman following a path toward mastery. I consider myself a medium size fish in a very small pond.

       

      To help me stay modest, I try to surround myself with true masters such as John Wilson and Roy Underhill . I personally don’t feel worthy of sweeping their shop floors. I also keep close to members of the Midwest Tool Collectors Assn, Early American Industries Assn. and Tillers International. The combined knowledge of these groups is immense.

       

      My criteria for being a laurel would be this:

       

      First: when I see some one walking down the road, do I say there goes John the joiner, or there goes John? A laurel should let their craft define them and be in their blood. I am told that these criteria would make multi peerages impossible. Peerage should not be a merit badge, but an acknowledgement of status.

       

      Next, a laurel should not be a jerk. Laurels should be open, caring and sharing and forgiving people.

       

      Laurels should also teach and publish. A laurel that hides their skill and knowledge is of no use to the society.

       

      Finally, a laurel does not need to be the finest craftsman in the world. A good solid understanding of the craft is plenty enough. If you had to be better than any one else, no one could make the cut.

       

      Now, as far as to the type and quality of the work, I see no problem using power tools in the privacy of your own shop if the final product looks period. I don’t like to see power tools used at demos and I don’t like to see projects look modern.

       

      I truly hate to see “period” projects that look like they came from the medieval department at Art Vans Furniture. Medieval furniture was not highly polished, and coated with polyurethane. Tool marks should be obvious, not sanded off. Projects should not look like you picked up lumber from Home Depot and screwed it together. Common dimensions are a modern innovation.

       

      Finally, I do recommend that you do use hand tools. I personally feel that you can’t truly understand wood working until you work wood with hand tools giving you the true feel, smell and spirit of the wood.

       

      I was once at a Shop smith (a very high tech power tool) class. The instructor started out with a lecture on how to use a hand plane. He felt that even with the best power tools, you still need to know the basics to build on.

       

      Finally, when I do demos for the public, some one from the public has to tell me that I could be much more efficient if I used power tools. My response is this: one of the few times I feel truly right with the world is when I am working wood. Why in the world would I want to speed that up?

       

      This is only my humble opinion. Others could and should have their own opinions. That is as it should be. I would honor hearing your opinion.

       

      Nigel

       

       

       
      In a message dated 8/20/2013 6:29:01 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, conradh@... writes:
       

      > Well said. I like the 2 statements below especially, with the difference
      > being “I need a periodesque box that looks better than Tote” vs
      > “this is a representation of a period box”. If I have to do
      > something with dimensional lumber, I try to par it down to non-standard
      > dimensions so it at least doesn’t look like a 2x4.
      >
      > I get a lot of “I could do that in a few seconds with my router” etc.
      > I sometimes say (and more often just think) “Yet you paid good money to
      > come watch me do it this way”…
      >
      I also agree with Nels. I'd add that while someone can do it in a few
      seconds with a router, that's only after spending a few hours making jigs!
      For a one-off item, hand planes can actually be _faster_, as well as
      quieter, safer and leaving authentic tool marks. Not to mention that you
      can actually learn something about what it felt like to do work in period,
      which power tools do very poorly.

      Ulfhedinn


    • conradh@...
      @Gerald Goodwine-- I make some of the same power-tool compromises you have, and for some of the same reasons, such as the desire to accomplish perhaps half the
      Message 2 of 23 , Aug 24, 2013
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        @Gerald Goodwine--

        I make some of the same power-tool compromises you have, and for some of
        the same reasons, such as the desire to accomplish perhaps half the things
        I have planned before I join the majority!

        However, I've also seen demos at events where blacksmiths were using 19th
        Century handcrank blowers and pounding on 18th Century London Pattern
        Anvils. Not to mention the ones who were using 20th Century gas forges!
        The flinch comes when you hear onlookers telling their kids or their
        companions "See? That's how it used to be done."

        The London style anvil is contemporary with the Brown Bess musket with
        bayonet. The hand-cranked forge blower comes from the same decade as the
        hand-cranked Gatling gun. Would we have these on a tourney field? Even
        versions covered with duct tape? :-)

        Your attempt to bring industrial-scale tooling, not just hand tools, to
        events sounds fascinating! Where in the Known World can they be seen?
        I've seen coins made with a drop hammer at events, and finally have my own
        smithy with twin bellows, side-draft forge and iron-block anvil that I
        bring myself. I used to have a spring-pole lathe I brought, but it wore
        out eventually.

        Just this can be a logistic PITA. If you can bring working versions of
        multiton period machinery, you have my profound respect, and I will
        forgive you the occasional stick of dimension lumber, or the use of
        Bessemer steel!

        Ulfhedinn
      • Jerry Harder
        My forge and anvil are just as awful as you describe, but some day! Generally, I only bring one tool to power by it. (weight restrictions) Just upgraded to a
        Message 3 of 23 , Aug 25, 2013
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          My forge and anvil are just as awful as you describe, but some day!  Generally, I only bring one tool to power by it.  (weight restrictions) Just upgraded to a 3/4 tone pickup and truck and trailer were at the 16000 lb capacity and I still loaded full the other 1/2 ton truck.   I put it up at the Lilies war every year. (which takes 50 or more man hours)  I have lots of pictures but one thing I have not learned to do is post a web site "URL?" so people can click on it and look at the picture.  This sight doesn't pass such attachments so well.  Alas I am not very computer literate but I keep learning.  High on the to do list is smelting iron, the hold up is getting ore.  I may end up fabricating an artificial ore.  Also to reduce set-up time when I do, I am constructing a kiln at home to make smelter in sections and "portable". My current focus is fabricating the machinery for the machine to run, making the boxes for it to get better organized, and fabricating blacksmithing tools.  I am on facebook and maybe you can see pictures there.  From my perspective and the purest who dosen't understand the hours of time that goes in: Really cool, but big project that is still a big mess. While it still outshines most It still needs lots of work. Its a 20 year project that I am 5 years in to.

          On 8/24/2013 8:11 PM, conradh@... wrote:
           

          @Gerald Goodwine--

          I make some of the same power-tool compromises you have, and for some of
          the same reasons, such as the desire to accomplish perhaps half the things
          I have planned before I join the majority!

          However, I've also seen demos at events where blacksmiths were using 19th
          Century handcrank blowers and pounding on 18th Century London Pattern
          Anvils. Not to mention the ones who were using 20th Century gas forges!
          The flinch comes when you hear onlookers telling their kids or their
          companions "See? That's how it used to be done."

          The London style anvil is contemporary with the Brown Bess musket with
          bayonet. The hand-cranked forge blower comes from the same decade as the
          hand-cranked Gatling gun. Would we have these on a tourney field? Even
          versions covered with duct tape? :-)

          Your attempt to bring industrial-scale tooling, not just hand tools, to
          events sounds fascinating! Where in the Known World can they be seen?
          I've seen coins made with a drop hammer at events, and finally have my own
          smithy with twin bellows, side-draft forge and iron-block anvil that I
          bring myself. I used to have a spring-pole lathe I brought, but it wore
          out eventually.

          Just this can be a logistic PITA. If you can bring working versions of
          multiton period machinery, you have my profound respect, and I will
          forgive you the occasional stick of dimension lumber, or the use of
          Bessemer steel!

          Ulfhedinn


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