Greasy hands, always.
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A Handmade Christmas

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It’s still hard for me. After hours of working on a small cupboard for my wife this Christmas, I brought the pile of parts to my eight- and three-year-old boys to help me assemble it. I lined up all the parts just so and started the nails in their places before nervously handing them hammers. Every little boy I’ve ever known loves hitting things with hammers. 

Back and bottom boards I have no problem with – it’s the top that makes me nervous. As they drove the parts together, I had opportunity to teach them how to control the hammer’s swing so as not to dent the surface below. Despite our best efforts, the top got a bit dented. By setting the nails below the surface and planing out the dents, I easily erased most of the damage. I did, however, leave the faintest reminder of the boys’ earnest swings. These are their fingerprints.

 

A small pine cat I carved for our seven-month-old

My wife and I have always loved making things and when we give gifts to our kids, we try to give something from our hands and from our hearts. It is an amazing experience seeing joy and gratitude on the face of your child after you’ve spent time creating something specially made for them. My boys are used to this kind of gift giving and look forward to making things for others.

 

Julia and I like to gift this way to each other too. If we aren’t making something with our own hands, we either end up finding beautiful handmade items at antique stores or providing each other the tools or materials to continue the making habit. This is our family’s way of severing ourselves from the destructive cycle of insatiable consumerism that runs deep in our culture. In our family, we try to gift simply and thoughtfully.

It’s not that purchasing new shiny things is always bad. There are products on the market that we cannot make ourselves. There are high-integrity businesses that make quality goods and my conscience is clear supporting them. Saddleback Leather is a prime example of a company we love. While we can’t afford to purchase many items from them, we’ve saved up throughout the years in order to purchase a few of their multi-generational-quality items. This is business at its best.

But more often than not, we make our gifts. Until you’ve experienced the joy of handmade gifting yourself, it’s hard to understand the rationale. For those accustomed to the convenience of Amazon.com and other retail giants, the transition to handmade can be hard. It takes a lot of time. It takes tools, energy, and skill. But these are exactly the things my family values. Teaching our boys hand skills empowers them for their future. They are growing up believing it’s normal to design a gift for a loved one, acquire the appropriate materials, and spend time crafting it.

 

Another side benefit is that it keeps gifting sane. Purposing to make by hand limits our giving to a reasonable quantity. Rather than heaping piles of disposable goods on our loved ones, giving a thoughtful handmade gift is something that is worth passing on to future generations. These are always the most personal gifts. As I examine the things we’ve made for each other over the years, I see love, thoughtfulness, and growth in skill. I think that’s a tradition worth continuing.

- Joshua

 

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brico
41 days ago
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cute cat
Brooklyn, NY
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Prepping an Old French Frame to Ride Once Again

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by Igor

This is Gerard. He's 61(ish) years old and hails from St. Etienne, France.


From the late 1800s to the early 1960s, St. Etienne in the Southeast of France was a hive for frame, component, and accessory production. Some the biggest marques that we know today were once headquartered there: Mercier, Stronglight, Automoto, Simplex, Vitus, and Lyotard just to name few.


Many bikes and frames out of St. Etienne were mass produced and sold domestically as well as overseas. Once the frames were in the hands of the shops, they would apply their own transfer decals and any other ornamentation. This is why you'll see so many nearly identical looking frames with different marques on the down tube.


Not much is known about the Gerard Cycles shop from Rue la Fayette in Paris. Searching The Web for various permutations of Gerard along with Porteur, Randonneur, and all the rest of the '-eurs brings up a lot of Peugeot "Captain Gerard" folding bikes from WW1 - which are cool in their own right.


This frame and fork was built in a classic touring style. It features an integrated hanger for a wide-range Simplex Rigidex rear derailleur, braze-on for a rear bottle-dynamo lighting, downtube wire guides to the front, and double dropout eyelets for racks and fenders. Given the condition of the paint and wear-points, I'd say someone enjoyed the heck out of the bike. 


The construction is straight forward and very typical of French bikes at the time. 26.1mm top tube, 28.4mm down tube, and 28.4mm seat tube. The selected tubing is straight gauge which makes a sturdy and comfortable ride over long distances, especially over cobbles and unpaved roads. The fork has a lovely, traditional French bend. Pairing a 73.5° head tube angle with a 74mm raked fork, the trail is about 21mm on 38mm 650b wheels.


This is an old French bike, so everything just has to be different - which all becomes clear during the prep process:
  • the fork is ~94.4mm spaced - I suspect it should be 96mm, but who knows what happened over its 60 year life
  • 120mm rear spacing - pretty standard for the time
  • French threaded bottom bracket shell - good thing we have French Threaded Bottom Brackets!
  • 25.6mm seat post - because of course...
  • Narrow cantilever spacing - the frame came with period Mafac brakes, so that is handled
  • Luckily both dropouts accept normal 10mm and 9mm hubs for rear and front, respectively
  • Steerer is ~22.18 - so a normal quill will work with a tad of sanding. French is 22.0mm.

To get the frame and fork ready for Frame Saver, the headset has to come out. The upper cup was stuck in place, so we put it into a vice to give it a bit of persuasion. The reason the headset was so hard to turn became clear very quickly: the bottom cup was missing one bearing and the top was missing three, the grease has calcified, and the races pitted. No matter, I'll pop a new French Threaded Headset in.



So here is how he sits as spokes are coming in and the frame is being Saved. Ultimately, Gerard will get the Porteur treatment and ride once again!


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brico
41 days ago
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j'aime that Nervex style
Brooklyn, NY
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A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett

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One of my long-time obsessions has been with chairmaker Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a traditional Eastern Kentucky chairmaker who moved to Cincinnati later in life and turned to making mind-bending chairs. Trained by his family in green chairmaking, Cornett made hundreds of chairs and other pieces of furniture during a time in the 20th century when the world was turning to manufactured goods. After serving in World War II, Cornett moved […]

The post A Great (and Free) Read on Chairmaker Chester Cornett appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

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brico
45 days ago
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This dude's work is bonkers.
Brooklyn, NY
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Dynamicland

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Dynamicland: incubating a humane dynamic medium

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brico
47 days ago
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Well it looks like this is what Brett Victor has been up to for the past couple years: he hooked up with Alan Kay and they are trying to reinvent computing.
Brooklyn, NY
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62 Rare Nuclear Test Films Have Been Declassified and Uploaded to YouTube

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Nuclear test films from 1945 to 1962 are literally rotting away in US government storage facilities. But those highly classified films are now being restored, declassified, and released on YouTube thanks to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. And 62 more never-before-seen films were just released today.

The first batch of these classified US nuclear test films were released back in March and showed just how incredible some of these atmospheric explosions can be. The US and Soviet Union signed a treaty in 1962 to stop testing nuclear explosions above ground, but North Korea has toyed with the idea of doing an atmospheric test in the near future.

And the release of the footage isn’t just for public spectacle. It’s important that the American people have access to government-created films, but scientists are able to make new calculations from these films that contribute to our understanding of everything from storage of nuclear materials to how they might be used in war.

The films include stunning nuclear tests from Operation Hardtack (1958), Operation Teapot (1955), Operation Redwing (1956), Operation Dominic (1962), along with others.

“We’ve received a lot of demand for these videos and the public has a right to see this footage,” nuclear weapons physicist Gregg Spriggs, who’s leading the project to preserve the films, said in a statement. “Not only are we preserving history, but we’re getting much more consistent answers with our calculations.”

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Spriggs and his team are in a race against time to digitize the films which are deteriorating at a rapid rate, but they’re working hard and learning a lot.

“It’s been 25 years since the last nuclear test, and computer simulations have become our virtual test ground. But those simulations are only as good as the data they’re based on,” Spriggs said. “Accurate data is what enables us to ensure the stockpile remains safe, secure and effective without having to return to testing.”

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has at least a couple more years of work to do, but they’re going to continue releasing the films in large batches like this one today. Let’s just hope we don’t see a new atomspheric nuclear explosion (test or otherwise) before they’re done with their preservation project.


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brico
62 days ago
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!
Brooklyn, NY
fxer
68 days ago
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Bend, Oregon
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Megan has Left the Magazine

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megan-IMG_8447

One of my favorite bas-a#% people.

You might have heard: Megan Fitzpatrick is no longer the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

While readers might be wringing their hands or wondering how the magazine will fare without her (hint: it will be just fine), I am personally and selfishly pleased at the news.

Megan was, hands down, the best employee I ever had (followed closely behind by Kara Gebhart). As my managing editor, Megan worked her butt off. She was both passionate and professional. Intensely curious about the craft. Willing to do whatever it took to get the magazine to the printer while refusing to sacrifice quality.

And now, with her days free, she can work for Lost Art Press even more – both editing and writing. As many of you know, nearly every book at Lost Art Press has benefitted from Megan’s careful eye and deadly red pen. And, if I get my way, she’ll allow us to publish a book of hers that’s been percolating for many years.

The community of woodworking editors is small – maybe 30 or 40 people at most. And when someone leaves a publication, one of two things happen. Most editors disappear. They return to their lives as commercial woodworkers or move on to edit a magazine about drones or hospital hand sanitizers. A few (and I can name them on one hand) refuse to leave the world of woodworking and carve out their own place. On their own terms. And they improve the craft (and their own lives).

The smart money says that Megan will do the latter.

So please welcome Megan to the ranks of the Woodworking Editorial Hobo Society (of which I am lifetime member). There’s a warm chair and a cold beverage waiting for you at our next meeting.

— Christopher Schwarz


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brico
75 days ago
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Brooklyn, NY
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