Ever wondered how to make a basket out of willow rods or birch bark? How about a bow drill for lighting fires? Maybe you'd rather make your own cordage out of nettles and then use it to make a wood-and-thorn fishing hook? All this knowledge and more can be your at Jon's Bushcraft. (Bonus: he also makes fine art.)
First they're carved, then they are dipped, and finally they are painted. In the late 1930s, the Dalahäst (Dalecarlian horse, or Dala horse to Americans) made the transition from traditional home-made Swedish toy to Swedish symbol when they became the centerpiece of the Swedish Pavilions at the 1939 World's Fair. Although many (Scandinavian-)Americans associate the brightly painted wooden horses painted in the kurbits style with yuletide decor, the toys have no seasonal assignation for Swedes.
A visual tour of downtown Los Angeles, now and then:
What tools did the Vikings use to construct their ships? During the early years of the Song dynasty, while Sridhar Acharya's concept of "zero" was making it's way westward and a pair of anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets was committing the tale of Beowulf to animal skin, a Viking craftsman lost his tool chest. It is speculated that the chest fell overboard off a ship or through the ice into what was then a swamp on the modern island of Gotland, Sweden. The chest was unearthed in 1936 when a chain attached to the chest got caught on a farmer's plow. In it were the tools a Viking blacksmith/ship builder would need to ply his trade. Named the Mästermyr chest its discovery was a boon to archaeologists, historians, re-enactors, woodworkers and blacksmiths. The original tools (catalogue of the items) were restored and put on display. Numerous copies and tributes of the chest or selected tools have been made over the years including a complete replica of both the chest and contents made using period techniques as a 'net project of a blacksmiths and woodworkers. [more inside]
Chinese New Year's eve and its the Year of the Wood Horse according to the annual rotation of 12 animals and 5 elements followed by Chinese geomancers. Horse babies are always welcome, especially boys. Less known however is the stigma attached to the girl child born in the year of the Fire Horse. [more inside]
Shigeru Ban: ‘People’s architect’ combines permanence and paper"
Generally speaking, an architect’s style is defined by particular forms or shapes. There’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s prominent horizontal lines, for instance; Le Corbusier’s simple white boxes; or, more recently, the deliberately abstract masses of Frank Gehry — of Guggenheim Bilbao fame. But in the view of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, such formal elements are ultimately little more than reflections of current trends — in the first two cases above, Modernism, and in the third, “blobbism,” or the recent taste for irregular shapes made possible by computer-aided design. According to Ban, the only way for architects to keep their work free from the influence of such transient fashions is to come up with new ways to actually build things — new materials, for example, or new approaches to structural engineering. His own answer? Paper — or, to be more precise, cardboard tubes.[more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
Trashswag is a crowdsourced map for people to share and post reusable materials that they spot left outside. It is a resource for creative hobbyists, artists and people conducting renovation works to find unique, salvageable old wood, windows, doors, metal, glass and furniture. So far I think it's mostly Toronto and Montreal but is expanding to other areas.
A contestant on a Spanish talent show builds a mobile using natural materials. It's worth watching to the very end.
A nicely crafted video showing the construction of a treadle lathe, a foot-powered device for woodturning. The builder uses only hand tools and traditional methods; even the drill press is hand-cranked. Useful for those interested in constructing such a thing, mesmerizing for those who enjoy "how it's made"-type videos.
Marquetry is the art of making pictures composed of cut pieces of wood veneer which are then attached to a piece of furniture. Silas Kopf is perhaps the best known American doing marquetry. He works in Easthampton, MA on cabinets, desks, and at one time, pianos for Steinway. He also decorated a piano for Walden Woods using indigenous wood. [more inside]
“Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” This best selling book by Lars Mytting highlights a passion for firewood and inspired a TV program in Norway about cutting, stacking and burning firewood. The TV program, on the topic of firewood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in. “We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said [Mr.] Mytting .... “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down."
Wood Central is a long lived forum for woodworkers predating even young upstart Metafilter. Having been around for so long the forums are a source of immense knowledge of all things wood and some of that has been collected into posting archives and essays on their Articles and Reviews page. So if you ever wanted to know
- How to make a Double Twisted Dovetail joint
- How a totally blind wood worker manages his craft
- How to Age Cherry with NaOH
- How to construct a paddle
- How to safely use a chainsaw
- How to use electricity to remove rust from tools
- How to make a fancy bow saw
- How to make a Fibonacci Gauge and why you would want to.
Richard Garriott, perhaps better known as Lord British, has a wonderful collection of wooden automata in his house, in his Austin, Texas home Britannia Manor II (complete with observatory, and put up for sale in 2011). Here is an automata museum exhibit courtesy the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Glasgow. Or perhaps you would like to see more from individual automata artists? Perhaps you find this new-fangled stuff insufficiently respectful of the past: would you like a history lesson (links to the left)? Or might you like to learn how to make your own, out of paper? If all else fails, how about these anti-war automata?
If you've ever had a door or drawer that sticks during some parts of the year but not others, you have received a practical lesson in seasonal wood movement due to humidity. As the humidity changes, so do the dimensions of a piece of wood - sometimes to the breaking point. [more inside]
Looking for a project for the winter? Have some spare room and hand tools? Why not build a boat? [more inside]
The Wood Database has specifications and photos of many types of wood to help guide their identification (but beware the pitfalls). The site also features articles on safety and other matters.
NewScientist is reporting new way of processing wood pulp making new wonder construction material. [snip] To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020. So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.
Yesteryear's Tools is an Internet Magazine that concentrates on hand tools, the toolmakers and the tool distributors that operated mostly between the mid-1800s and mid to late-1900s. Particular attention centers upon the markings and labels of such makers and distributors, specifically those that can be classified as manufacturers and/or major distributors. [more inside]
The ternary calculating machine of Thomas Fowler. And electromechanical calculating machines from the 1960s.
Tree poaching: 800-year-old red cedar stolen from a provincial park is in the news today, but tree poaching is an ongoing problem in the province. Valuable decorative wood such as curly maple is sought after and stolen eg in 2009 from Burnaby Mountain Conservation area. Another curly maple. To identify which trees to steal, many others may be damaged. Here's a Picture of damage in a discussion where guitar-lovers feel accusations are unjust.
On June 7th, the Disney XD channel will premiere a new, 10-part miniseries: Tron Uprising. The series, which will feature the voices of Elijah Wood, Lance Henriksen, Bruce Boxleitner (reprising his role as 'Tron',) Mandy Moore and Paul Reubens, will combine 2D and CGI animation styles, and is set between the events of the first and second Tron movies. Trailers: 1, 2. 2011 ComicCon Preview. Disney released a full-length "prelude episode" yesterday evening (US Only): Beck's Beginning. (Via) [more inside]
The creation of a stunningly beautiful smoking pipe.
Romeyn Hough's American Woods is one of the most astonishing books of the late 19th century, a 14-volume set containing a thorough survey of the trees of the U.S., complete with thinly sliced samples of the wood of each tree. Complete sets of this mammoth undertaking are today rare and highly prized.
When it comes to hand tools, many woodworkers will tell you that they just don't make 'em like they used to. Unfortunately, making sense of the myriad versions and model numbers of antique hand tools can be a daunting task. Fortunately there's Patrick's Blood and Gore for Stanley hand planes, the Disstonian Institute for Disston saws, Old Tool Heaven for just about everything ever made by Millers Falls, and HyperKitten, which includes pages on Metal Routers, Stanley Bench Planes, and Harvey W. Peace saws. [more inside]
Years by Bartholomäus Traubek: a record player that plays slices of wood.
WoodTreks is a well-produced video blog about traditional woodworking with hand tools. Many of the videos are aimed at the beginner. [more inside]
It is quite likely this is the coolest desk in the world! (Well, even if that's hyperbole, there are lots of other beautiful puzzles and woodworks in Kagen Schaefer's gallery, including some of his award winners from the annual Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.)
A lot of people don't know where to go to source interesting info on historical wood finishes. You are not one of them. [more inside]
Michael had always claimed he could make anything from wood, and James called his bluff in a big way. More than 1,000 man hours and a considerable amount of skill and ingenuity later, the SplinterBike was ready to ride.
Ron van der Ende is a sculptor living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He specializes in wall mounted bas-relief constructed from found wood. The original color and texture of the wood is utilized to form a gripping and sometimes photo-realistic mosaic. The realism is further enhanced by the perspective built into the relief. [more inside]
It's been 30 years since the last log drive. Log drives were a way of life in the woods. In Quebec, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota and Connecticut. The last one in Maine was 1976. [more inside]
As winter rolls around, my thoughts turn to warming myself. And I can't think of a more efficient way to do it than with a rocket stove. [more inside]
Books are made out of trees, right? Artist Randall Rosenthal follows a slightly different path in that transformation. Books, newspapers, cutting boards, baseball cards, and legal pads also come from trees. The process Randall Rosenthal uses to make books and other objects out of trees is a does not involve a paper mill, though.
10 Exotic Wooden Bathtubs: if I had the space and the money I would definitely get one of these gorgeous tubs; I particularly like the Maax Viaggi, Sasso Ocean and Adagio. [more inside]
Seth Roland does amazing things with wood. From bookends to tables and more, he does remarkable things with wood and a band saw.. Fine Woodworking magazine's website has a video.
Russia's Wooden Churches - A century after celebrated Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin called for preservation of Russia's decaying wooden churches, architectural photographer Richard Davies revisits the churches to document and raise awareness of these gorgeous historic architectural treasures. [more inside]
Future textile design by Elisa Strozyk.
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