Tools for the knitter

Making tools is always a fun diversion from other shop projects, like things for your wife.  Making a tool you've never made before always teaches you a new skill.  But making a tool you've never made before for your wife... now you're on to something!

My wife is a talented knitter.  She collects yarn like I collect wood; you can never have enough of either! Sometimes she buys yarn that has been locally spun and dyed, then wound into skeins (around another cool tool called a niddy-noddy).  A loose skein is of little use to her, so she needed a way to easily make loose skeins into a yarn ball. Enter the woodworker...

This is called an umbrella swift.  The bows are made of 1/4" thick walnut; the central pike and hubs are birch.  The attaching jaw is hard maple, with an oak screw. The bottom hub slides up and down to adjust the diameter of the swift, to accomodate skeins of different lengths, as well as to allow the skein to close down for storage.

All the joints are tied with hemp cord, except where the bows attach to the hubs.  This was done with fine gauge wire for durability and ease of attachment.  The bottom hub rides on a fence, which tightens with a thumbscrew to lock in the setting.

In action, the swift bows and hubs rotate around that central pike, providing a convenient way to control a loose skein while it is wound into a ball.  To use the swift, you also need a nostiprinne.

This is essentially a stick around which a ball of yarn is created.  There are crank machines available that do this, but they are almost all made of cheap Chinese plastic, so no thank you.  This takes a little longer to create a ball of yarn but it was made by me, on my spring pole lathe, from locally harvested wood.


Rules for Sucessful Woodworker Interactions

I'm not one for philosophy.  I can't sit for hours and contemplate the meaning of life, nor do I weep at the sight of a bud in spring.  I do, however, get a little frustrated when people repeat, ad nauseum, old arguments as to why one way of working wood is better than another.  While I may have a bias (my Mathieson can beat up your Delta!), I'm not against any woodworker, Normite or Galoot. 

It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but here are my rules for dealing with other woodworkers, especially all you power tool guys:

1) Know Thyself! There is no merit badge for woodworking dogma. If you like hand tools use them. If you don't, don't. If you don't know what you like, try them out (the whole goal of everything I've ever written)

2) Just Do Something! The only "bad" woodworking is the woodworking that doesn't get done, or that which is done without enjoyment, regardless of methodology.

3) Think for Yourself! The echo chamber of the Internet makes it harder for guys to try things for themselves and make their own decisions about what tools they need or would like to try.

4) Stop trying to beat the 18th Century! Woodworking knowledge and technology peaked sometime in the 18th century (Slightly kidding!).

Michigan's Monticello?

Given that it is far too cold to paint my chest on drawers at the moment, I'm sort of stuck with that particular project (should have been done several months ago, admittedly, but the tennis court has been calling me back).  In the time since my last post, I put together a large knitter's swift for my very talented wife, as well as a quick turned yarn ball winding stick (is there a better name for this tool?).  Pics to come soon.

As a New Years Resolution, I've decided to maximize my personal shop time by focusing on a series of projects with the same theme.  Given that my wife and I will be moving to a much larger country farmhouse sometime in June, one that will feature a grand library, I need to create some appropriate furniture for that setting.  I've decided to reproduce as many things associated with Thomas Jefferson and Monticello as I can.  Right now the list (in no particular order) is:

- 5 sided book stand (nearly complete)
- Jefferson's lap desk (have the plans)
- Tall clock (working from the pics in the Monticello guidebook)
- Campechey chair (mine will be in locally harvested cherry, not mahogany, but I have the plans)
- Bookcases, as featured in the June 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking

Two more things that I want to make, but not associated with Jefferson are;
- Pennsylvania spice box (to hold small artifacts in the library)
- Joint stool (getting the Peter Follansbee book buzz already)

After I complete the book stand, the Campechey chair will be next up.  I purchased the plans from Tim Killen, via his website.  I've been wanting to build the Campechey chair for a while, but the curves confounded my efforts to scale up from pictures.  Tim's plans feature a full size template page, that you can print at Kinkos and then glue down to make a pattern for each piece.

I'm really looking forward to building this, as I've been wanting to make one ever since I saw the original in the parlor at Monticello.  My goal is to have it completed before April 28th, as this is the date of the next SAPFM Great Lakes Chapter meeting, where I will be demonstrating how to make sash for period furniture and homes.  What a show and tell piece that would be to have the Campeche chair done!

This is a very ambitious schedule, one that I'm not sure I can keep, but I'm going to give it my best shot.  My resolution, along with focus, is to finish more personal projects in a more reasonable time frame. No more half-done projects waiting for me to find a roundtoit... that is, at least, when it isn't too cold to paint!