Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scarf joints...

On Monday I'll order the 9 mm. Meranti plywood for building Bevins Skiffs at the Clear Spring school (starting) in December. In order to have sides and a bottom for each boat of sufficient length, I am making a scarfing jig for the router that will allow the necessary scarf joints to be cut. I also ordered a router bit that I believe will work just right with the jig I designed.

The jig is clamped to the plywood sheets, and supports the router at just the right angle to trim the edges of two pieces at a time to a one to eight inch slope.  After it is assembled I'll cut a channel in the sides so it can follow a guide screwed to the plywood and be aligned across the full width of a plywood sheet. The jig is a refinement and adaptation of one I saw on

Other that that, I've little to say that I've not said before.  On my blog,, I have nearly 5,000 published posts at this point, each one saying nearly the same thing, from slightly different angles. We develop in skill, character, and intelligence, and act in support of human culture, family and community when our hands are central to learning.

I repeat myself, knowing full well that the world at large will likely not listen, and may likely not understand without having taken time to observe personally the relationship between the hands, the heart and the intellect. And yet, the hands are essential to our humanity and will continue to have their effect, whether we are conscious of them or not.

Make, fix, and create.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

pens and cursive...

Yesterday was a big day for Fed Ex as the driver brought 5 packages from Taunton Press. Three contained boxes that I had sent for photography in product review articles and two were blades for cutting box joints that will be used in photography next week when editor Barry Dima returns for a second visit to Eureka Springs on Wednesday.

Making pens in the Clear Spring School has led to the practice of cursive in high school. The lead teacher puts a quote on the board each Wednesday and the students put it in their own hand writing using the pens they crafted in wood shop. An additional benefit will be that our students know how to read cursive.

In the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, my upper elementary school students decided that they wanted to make toys for the pre-primary students to be shared with them at our annual Harvest Party next week.  They began by making super-heroes and making wheels for the toy cars they plan to make next week.

On Monday I'll order boat building supplies for Building Bevins Skiffs at the Clear Spring School. The following week will be perfect for receiving an order of plywood shipped from Ohio, as I will be out from school for fall break.

Last night we held a successful Mad Hatter's Ball at the Crescent Hotel to benefit the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix, create and adjust education so that children learn lifewise.

Friday, October 20, 2017

finished Viking chest...

Yesterday I installed the hand forged hardware on the Viking chest, and applied a coat of boiled linseed oil as a finish. Linseed oil was used as a wood finish on boats and chests in the Viking era as it was a by-product from the growing of flax.  One or more additional coats will be required. It is relatively non-toxic, has a pleasant smell and can be replenished at any time.

My thanks to Bob Patrick for having made the hardware. It is simple, strong and appropriate. I followed his guidance on installing it. First use screws, then one by one, replace the screws with nails. It's better than screwing up.

In the meantime, there is additional information about the effects of smart phones and kids. In fact, the amount of screen time for kids is growing at a rapid pace and our knowledge of the detrimental effects is growing as well.

Parents too often use smart phones to distract and entertain their children, with the goal being that of keeping them quiet. The latest research indicates it does just that... delaying the development of speech.

It would be best if parents took a cautious approach to technology. But it may be too late for that. Children strive to emulate the behavior they see in adults. When adults are glued to their phones, ignoring what goes on around them, what can we expect from their kids?

Make, fix, create and set an example so others learn lifewise.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I want to do this at home....

Yesterday I had a great day in wood shop. What starts out as a bit of chaos ends up with the students deeply engaged and reluctant to quit. The student shown sawing in the photo inspired several others to begin making toy cats, and then moved on to build a house for hers. The house was a ramshackle one, held together with a few nails and lots of glue, but it was carried home with great pride. I am not sure what the parents will do with such a collection of work, and I hope that they understand what it represents.

Beginning craftsmanship is rough, it's imaginative, and serves as evidence of effort, of growth and of learning.

One of my students announced yesterday, "I want to work on this more at home." It is wonderful to see children engaged in real work, and the joy of creativity must be extended into the whole fabric of life. It would be a wonderful thing if all schools would renew an interest in woodworking. It would be wonderful if all families were to offer such things also.

So the message is simple. Buy some tools, make them available to your children, and watch over them to see that they are safe.

There has been a dramatic increase in highway deaths that most are attributing to smart phone use.
Smart phones are addictive.  Less dangerous tools like knives, saws, hammers and the like, are addictive as well, but the consequences of their use may lead to greater intelligence and character as the child learns to create useful beauty in service to family, community and self, all without putting others at risk.

Make, fix, create, and increase the joy that comes from learning lifewise.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

33th semi annual

This Saturday is the 33rd semi annual meeting of the New England Association of Woodworking Teachers (NEAWT). It is being held at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire, and I was proud to have attended their first meeting in that same location, 17 years ago.  To RSVP or get additional information please contact Ben Kellman Networking between teachers gives purpose and strength.

In my wood shop yesterday I made progress in building a "Viking" tool box, fitting a bottom in it and bending the hardware to fit the curvature of the lid. Still remaining are to drill holes in the hinges and hasp, sand the various parts smooth, nail the corners, and attach the hardware. The Danish oil finish will be applied over the hardware, giving it a protective coat.

I have a second chest in the works, also, but with angled sides, and with hinges made from scrap steel. I'll make the hardware for it on Thursday when I have no classes to attend to.

Make, fix, create, and accelerate learning lifewise.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

viking chest...

The Viking chest prototype is ready for a bottom to be fitted and for hardware to be adapted to fit. Bob Patrick left the hardware un-quenched so that it will be malleable and can be bent to the curvature of the lid. He also left the hole drilling for me so that I can choose where to put the hand forged nails he made to hold the hardware in place. In next summer's ESSA class, students will make the chest and hardware in the wood and metals shops.

Today I plan a quiet day in the wood shop.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Monday, October 16, 2017

hidden splines...

Yesterday, in addition to trying to re-conceptualize the Wisdom of the Hands book, I prepared for another article in Fine Woodworking and the visit of an editor from that magazine in two weeks. This article will be about the hidden spline joint, as in the box shown, that will serve as a prop in the article to illustrate the finished joint.

I have yet to sand the outside and apply Danish oil to brighten the color of the woods. I will also add a lining so that it can be sold when the article is complete. The hidden spline joint gives great strength to the corners of a box, and does nothing to interfere with the grain pattern on the outside. If working with wood like this quartersawn white oak, the hidden spline joint can be the perfect choice. Making the hidden spline from a contrasting wood brings emphasis to the craftsmanship involved in forming the joint, and in this case, I chose walnut to match the top panel and lift tab.

In the wood shop at the Clear Spring School today, I will continue reading the manual for building a Bevins skiff to my high school students.

Nearly all of us, whether we are graduates of high school, or college, or hold advanced
degrees have in excess of 13 years of formal education under our belts. For some
education is a story of success, for some it is a story of frustration and failure. Some are led
by their experience to regard themselves as having great expertise, and some
are led to regard themselves as lacking in any sort of expertise whatever. That is the
accepted standard. Some win, some lose and education serves as a sorting process,
pushing some on a path toward college and some off the path entirely. In
America, we make too few allowances for late bloomers. Children do not all develop on the same schedule, and some of the damage done in schooling is never corrected.

There has been this idea that the digital world, and particularly digital devices in school would open up new worlds of efficient and effective education. That has proven to NOT be the case. Given digital technology, kids play with it. The do not learn. This link tells the sad story: The article suggests that:
“the new digital world is a toxic environment for the developing minds of young people. Rather than making digital natives superlearners, it has stunted their mental growth.”
Make, fix, create and increase the likelihood that others learn lifewise.