This morning we skipped the 20th century entirely.
We invited a few dozen readers to the White Water Shaker Village, a 19th-century colony in rural Hamilton County that is being restored by volunteers. And we invited Freud Tools to the event to show off some of their newest tooling. Freud, never a company for half-measures, sent a huge mobile workshop on the back of a diesel truck.
So we spent the morning touring the 19th-century buildings, learning about carbide tooling in the 21st century and trying to resist the doughnut mountain that Senior Editor Glen D. Huey brought to the event. Like any good history book, let’s start at the beginning.
The progress on the Meeting House at White Water has come along nicely since our last visit out there. The poplar wainscotting is making its way all around the main room on the first floor. And the volunteer organization, Friends of White Water Shaker Village, is just about to enter an ambitious stage of the project: replacing the replacement windows with double-hung sash windows that look like the original.
All the readers received personalized tours and they were allowed to roam about the Meeting House, the adjacent dwelling and the barn freely. Also, they put the original 13′-long bench in the Meeting House , the bench that I’m going to be building a couple copies of this week. (Really. It will really be this week. I say that to myself in the mirror every morning.)
Senior Editor Robert W. Lang and I went over the bench together a little bit, looking for anything I missed when making my construction drawing for the reproductions. We both think the bench has a simple oil finish on it based on some visual clues.
Outside the Meeting House, Freud showed off its tooling and answered the endless stream of questions from the readers. I am one of the worst people when it comes to asking questions. I’ve learned a lot about tooling in the last 13 years at the magazine, but I always like picking the brains of people who live and breathe tooling.
And, as always, I picked up a couple really good tips from Kevin Kauffunger, Freud’s Northeast woodworking specialist.
Here’s the first one: Taking really light finishing passes with your tooling will greatly shorten its lifespan. Yup. You know what I’m talking about: When you take one final pass with a router bit to just cleanup the slight bumps and ridges left from your ham-handedness on an earlier pass.
The problem with this technique is that it really heats up the tooling. When you take a good pass and remove 1/16″ of material, for example, the chips heat up. And as they are sucked away, that takes heat away from the cutters.
When you take a really light pass, you aren’t generating any chips. So that’s not taking heat away from the tooling. Plus, you are rubbing the finished profile against the tooling, and this generates heat as well.
How do you avoid this problem? Plan to make your final pass to remove 1/16″ or 1/32″. And keep your feed rate up (which also keeps heat from getting out of control).
So the real trick is planning your passes to end up with one good pass on your work.
“You can rush to mediocrity,” Kauffunger said. “Or you can pre-plan for success.”
I spent more than an hour in the Freud van and learned more about tooling in that time than I have all year by reading and attending shows. Thanks Freud.
This coming week, watch the blog for details on building the White Water bench. I think it might be the only project where the two indispensable tools are a European jointer/planer and a big honking ripsaw.
– Christopher Schwarz