Well, it's that time of year when, Janus-like, we look back at what we've accomplished in the preceding year and ahead to what we hope to achieve in the coming one. Here are my lists.
This was a very busy year for me, woodworking-wise. While I accomplished a lot, I also started a number of things that remain unfinished.
My friend Jeff Fleisher and I started a small business, Shenandoah Tool Works, and began production of premium woodworking mallets featuring highly-figured hardwood handles. The mallets come with steel heads in 1 lb. and 1 1/2 lb. weights. Business started off well and our mallets have been well-received. We attended the Woodworking in America show in Cincinnati in October and did a good business there, getting valuable exposure in the process.
I continued working on a pair of white oak bedside tables. I hesitated over several construction problems that I eventually solved and the cases are now glued-up and awaiting drawers.
I upgraded my Nova 16-24 lathe to the Nova 3000 DVR model, which seems more powerful and is certainly easier to use with its adjustable speeds.
I sold off my Craftsman radial arm saw, now that I'm using handsaws to dimension my lumber.
I joined Shannon Rogers' Hand Tool School and began learning from Shannon many of the mysteries and skills associated with hand tool woodworking.
I started work on a joinery bench, following plans developed by Shannon Rogers in the Hand Tool School.
With a colleague at the Leesburg, VA, Woodcraft store, I designed a Hand Tool Woodshop class series that he and I will be teaching on a monthly basis. The idea is to teach hand tool skills while letting students build new and useful appliances and tools. Examples are bench hooks, shooting boards, and saw benches, among others.
I was able to locate a natural edge walnut slab that I planed smooth, mostly by hand, for use as a coffee table top. I also purchased another slab of highly colored maple and was able to get a slab of beautiful red box elder that I also plan to turn into a coffee table.
I undertook a lot of additional, smaller projects that are too numerous to recite or even to recall.
I hope to focus my attention this year on a select number of high priority objectives:
- Complete and finish the bedside tables.
- Build a base for the walnut coffee table.
- Build several Jefferson lap desks like the one on which the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. I have a wonderful mahogany board waiting for that purpose. I'll follow the plans from Charles Neil's Mastering Woodworking on-line sessions for that.
- Recommence work on a Winchester Chippendale secretary that I started several years ago in a class with Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton at Woodworking Workshops of the Shenandoah Valley. The casework is completed but not glued-up, the drawers remain to be built and all the pigeon holes need to be created. I'm sure I won't be able to complete the project this year, but I want to make significant progress on it.
- I want to learn how to cut dovetails by hand with precision and ease.
- I want to complete the joinery bench I started in 2013.
- I want to build a sharpening station.
- I've ordered a General International router table with a cast iron top and hope to have that installed in late January or February.
- I'd like to turn a number of items using the cherry, hickory, apple, box elder and other blocks I have stored away.
- I want to continue teaching hand tool techniques at the local Woodcraft stores, including the introduction to hand planes, restoring old hand planes, saw bench, shooting board and other classes.
- Jeff Fleisher and I will continue to produce our premium woodworking mallets. And, we expect to begin offering a hand-forged birdcage awl sometime early this year as well.
I'm sure other things will come up during the year, principally projects from the Hand Tool School that I'll want to tackle, such as the Limbert Table from Semester Two.
Did I say a select number of high priority objectives? Well, I guess I've put a lot on my plate for this year. It remains to be seen how much of this I will actually be able to accomplish. Check back next January!