Over the last couple of months, I have had lots of fun visiting craftsmen in their workshops and interviewing them for Australian Woodsmith. So far I have put 3000km on the clock driving up the eastern seaboard from Nowra to the Sunshine Coast, popping in on artisans who are at the top of their game.
A morning spent in the workshop of a craftsman is a real joy. We all develop little tricks and shortcuts in our workshops: like storage systems for small spaces and "make do" solutions resolved on the fly that end up being permanent. However it is often the unconscious things we do that really make the difference when crafting projects. A case in point was a visit to Col Hosie in Coffs Harbour. Col took me step-by-step through the production of his clever butterfly inserts. At one point Col fed the box lid he was working on through the thickness sander. What was interesting was that he fed it through skewed and not square to the sanding drum. This meant that the sensitive edge grain was not torn away as the piece exited the sander. Without being aware of it Col's experience had taught him to support the end grain when working with timber.
I have been a fan of the Gifkins Dovetail jig for years (we have three in our workshop) but within five minutes of watching Col use his, I learned several shortcuts that will speed up my boxmaking (turn to page 28 and see for yourself).
I always enjoy learning something new!