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Thread: Neander interview: David Weaver

  1. #1
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    Neander interview: David Weaver

    1.Name (and nick names):
    David Weaver

    2. Age/DOB:
    34

    3. Location (present and previous):
    North of Pittsburgh

    4. Tell us about your family:
    Wife and 2 year-old daughter

    5. How do you earn a living, woodworking or other, any interesting previous occupations:

    Applied mathematician. I have worked in the same occupation since college. However, during summers in college, I worked in a commercial cabinet factory, which was nothing at all like woodworking as we think of it. The factory made 2700-3500 cabinets per day, depending on orders. Panels were all cut with CNC machinery, everyone had a very specific and narrow job, and I generally worked in the assembly room, which housed five assembly lines and sub-assembly areas (drawer assembly, door hinge installation, etc). Three of the lines were non-specialty (standard size wall and base cabinets, and vanities) and turned each out more than a cabinet a minute. It was fast-paced repetitive work and the wages were low. In those days (the mid/late 90s) the orders just kept coming, but that factory has since been closed due to consolidation and low demand for building materials.

    6. Equipment overview (hand tools and other):
    Almost entirely hand tools. I have some power tools, but the only ones that get used with any regularity are a small drill press and a bandsaw. I do use a basic spraying setup when I have a reason to build furniture.

    7. Describe your shop:
    My shop is in front of the cars in a two-car garage, approximately 10x30 of useable space. Probably that much space in an adjacent basement houses most of my hand tools and nicer lumber the garage is below ground can be humid if it rains often. There wouldnít be room for all of it in the shop, anyway.

    8. Tell us about the hand planes you own, and your favorite one(s) to use:
    Iíve ventured into and through every major type of handplane (woodies, bench planes, infill planes, Japanese planes, European/continental planes), and still have some of each. I donít really have favorites, but I gravitate toward using the planes that Iíve made or mostly made just because of familiarity with them, I guess.

    9. Your favorite chisels:
    Again, no favorites, really. Iíve run through most of whatís around (new chisels, old chisels, Japanese chisels, Ö), and I guess I tend to like anything made of very plain steel, like old laminated chisels, chisels marketed as cast steel and Japanese white steel chisels.

    10. Your favorite handsaw(s):
    Generally English-pattern/style saws from the mid 1800s. Thatís not really an official tool class, maybe, but I think the English had a good grasp on how to design and make nice saws, and to the extent that American made handsaws deviate (like fat-plated plain closed-handle backsaws from disston, et al), I tend to like them less.

    11. Do you use western tools or Japanese? Why do you prefer the ones you use:
    Both. I donít really have a preference. I really like Japanese steel, but as time goes on and more of my tools are tools that Iíve made, or made parts of and assembled. When you start making your own tools, you have a level of familiarity with them that makes them very nice to use, and predictable/reliable, more so than going through large quantities of ďboughtĒ tools that you never develop familiarity with. I do prefer to keep Japanese planes in the mix when dimensioning/roughing lumber because that can be tiring and itís nice to go back and forth between pushing and pulling. Unless I run into financial or space considerations, I donít think Iíll ever go totally one way or the other.

    12. Do you have a woodworking home page:
    No.

    13. Do you have any influences in your work? Certain styles or designers you follow/prefer:
    I donít make furniture unless my wife makes requests. At some point, I will admit that I really only have the desire to make tools, as making furniture doesnít draw me to the shop Ė itís more like an obligation. I guess to the extent that Iím making tools, I do like tools that are tastefully designed and donít display elements that immediately strike someone as facilitating manufacture.

    14. Do you have any ancestors who were woodworkers that served as inspiration:
    No, though my motherís side was, and still is, filled with tinkerers Ė very competent tinkerers, but none were woodworkers. Their tinkering tends to be focused close to their occupations.

    15. What is your favorite neander project, or part of a project, you have ever done and why:
    Building planes. Any of them. Moulding planes, infill planes, etc. From a sensory (the feel of working metal and wood by hand) and results perspective, the whole process is very satisfying. Plus, you have a tool that you maybe never wouldíve spent the money for, and a choice in where compromises are made.

    16. Do you believe there is any spiritual dimension to woodworking with hand tools:
    No. Woodworking is a sensory experience and a mental change of pace. I donít believe in wood spirituality or enlightenment through woodworking or anything of that sort.

    17. How much of your work is done by hand tools. Do you use whatever is best for the job or do you use hand tools even when they are less efficient:
    Nearly all of it. I use hand tools unless I donít feel like using hand tools. I donít ever think about speed of a job unless itís something I donít like to do. One of the things that I like most about hand tools is that unless you completely turn your brain off, the work ďstays in front of youĒ, giving you time to think about whatís going on rather than going with a shove-it-through mentality. As a relative novice, itís nice to be able to have time to think about whatís going on, and the flexibility to change or fix small problems before they are large problems.

    18. What is your single most favorite tool, and why:
    No favorites, really. If I tried to think of an answer for that, the next time someone asked the same question, it would be a different tool, and then after that, a third different answer, etc.

    19. If you were a hand tool what would you be and why:
    Way too much analysis to come up with an answer for that one!

    20. We have to know, whatís your favorite ice cream:
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  2. #2
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    Glad to see your interview up,David. The tools I have seen you post have all been very well made.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for all the sharing of your experience over the years. Great advice and dead on.

    What?...! No favorite ice cream?

  4. #4
    Thanks, guys.

    Zahid asked why I left the ice cream question blank. I did because I don't really eat ice cream - I have no self control.


    My wife calls me "all or none". If there is a container around, I will eat all of it in a day if there is no supervision. If there is more than one, I will eat one a day until they're gone. So since "all" isn't a good answer I choose "none" and we don't have any around.

  5. #5
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    If there is more than one, I will eat one a day until they're gone.
    That sounds like better self control than me. More than one a day would get liberated from my freezer.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    Now I don't feel as bad for eating 2-3 bowls in one sitting. Like Terry said I've always appreciated your advice and the nice tools you post every now and then.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  7. #7
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    David, I really enjoyed your interview and I always enjoy your posts of the tools you built.

    I was wondering given your experience with all different types of planes, how the infill planes you have compare with the more typical Western and Japanese planes you use? I use a combination of metal Western planes and Japanese planes but have never used an infill. They sure look cool and I would imagine the mass alone would be a benefit but very much appreciate your thoughts.

    Secondly I have to ask, what's the " Brusha Brusha Brusha!" mean?

    Thanks, Mike

  8. #8
    Brusha Brusha Brusha is Bucky Beaver's motto. Bucky Beaver being the commercial character for Ipana toothpaste. They're my favorite old ads.

    If you make an infill right (bedded properly and with the mouth exactly the size you want), it's easier to use effectively than any other plane, and it doesn't have to be deadly sharp to avoid tearout. It will also work on woods that are really unpleasant with a bailey bench plane, and especially with a woody.

    Japanese planes at a low angle with tearout susceptible wood is an exercise in skill and sharpness to me, I'm assuming it is to everyone. It's not by any means overly difficult, but you can't get away with much with a 38-40 degree iron and you can't go to sleep mentally. You can on an infill with all but the very worst wood. You can go any direction on nearly all woods and get no appreciable tearout.

    I've never used infills other than mine. I could afford to buy "made" planes, I guess, but it would cause serious marital problems! it's a nice challenge to have hanging out there now to really make a few from dead scratch and try to make them look as nice as something george or raney would do. I didn't really understand nice looking things last year and the year before when I built these planes, I just wanted infills and wanted to fire them together, but I did take time to carefully make the bedding and lever cap fit right and have a lot of control over the size of the mouth.

  9. #9
    Heh, I prefer my ice cream in the convenient single-serving 1 quart size!
    Steve, mostly hand tools. Click on my name above and click on "Visit Homepage" to see my woodworking blog.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by David Weaver View Post
    Thanks, guys.

    Zahid asked why I left the ice cream question blank. I did because I don't really eat ice cream - I have no self control.


    My wife calls me "all or none". If there is a container around, I will eat all of it in a day if there is no supervision. If there is more than one, I will eat one a day until they're gone. So since "all" isn't a good answer I choose "none" and we don't have any around.
    I can really relate to that! My wife calls me "Nothing in moderation - everything to excess."

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  11. #11
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    Nice interview. Thanks Zahid and David!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Weaver View Post
    If you make an infill right (bedded properly and with the mouth exactly the size you want), it's easier to use effectively than any other plane, and it doesn't have to be deadly sharp to avoid tearout. It will also work on woods that are really unpleasant with a bailey bench plane, and especially with a woody.

    Japanese planes at a low angle with tearout susceptible wood is an exercise in skill and sharpness to me, I'm assuming it is to everyone. It's not by any means overly difficult, but you can't get away with much with a 38-40 degree iron and you can't go to sleep mentally. You can on an infill with all but the very worst wood. You can go any direction on nearly all woods and get no appreciable tearout.

    I've never used infills other than mine. I could afford to buy "made" planes, I guess, but it would cause serious marital problems! it's a nice challenge to have hanging out there now to really make a few from dead scratch and try to make them look as nice as something george or raney would do. I didn't really understand nice looking things last year and the year before when I built these planes, I just wanted infills and wanted to fire them together, but I did take time to carefully make the bedding and lever cap fit right and have a lot of control over the size of the mouth.
    .

    David, thanks for the feedback on infill planes -- I have to say you've really wet my appetite to try one. Unfortunately, my tool budget doesn't allow for either a vintage or made infill plane from one of the current premium planemakers.

    I would consider trying to make one for myself but am really starting from zero knowledge. I don't want a pepper you with a million questions, but if you have any suggestions for "how to" and "component sources" reference materials that would be much appreciated. Maybe there is a tutorial or existing thread here in the Cave I could check out?

    Realistically, what kind of metal working tools would I need? I'm trying to get a feel for the entry-level equipment cost.

    Thanks again for your Help and information, Mike

  13. #13
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    Nice interview of a very talented and helpful person! I always read David's comments with the intention of remembering.

  14. #14
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    Suffolk County, Long Island NY
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    Great interview. Thanks Zahid and David.

  15. #15
    Mike, here's what I had to start (raney nelson sent me a brass blank (actually he sent me a whole bunch of stuff) - a chunk of raw square brass that was tapped, so I didn't need a tap - you'll need a tap to thread a blank if you don't have that).

    raney nelson told me what size and type of plane to start with, and the rest of it is peppered with my thoughts on doing it easily, and some of raneys.

    I would make a plane with a 1 1/2 inch iron to start, because you can get precision ground stock 2 inches wide and have enough to do it. You can vary from this, but this makes it easy and the first plane is quick, then when you're comfortable with it you can build bigger planes that take a lot longer.

    Check with the iron makers or make your own, but match the iron thickness with the sole so that you don't need an insert or bedding block when you fit it.
    * A 3/16th bottom and 3/16th iron is nice and makes a very nice performer.
    * match that with 1/8th thick sides
    * some 1/4th brass or mild steel rod for pins.
    * a knurled screw - either a homely one like the one in a picture that I put elsewhere, which can be gotten for about $8 from mcmaster carr, or a nice made brass one (I might have something you could have that would work).

    A brass blank to cut down, 2" wide and half an inch thick (that costs money, no way around it, but you'll have enough for a couple of planes, even if you find it in 6" length)

    There is a tutorial on dovetails at handplane.com, but i don't know that there's top to bottom tutorials on making planes by hand, and even if there are, you'll need to feel your way through it a little.

    I personally using hand tools like O1 better than mild steel, and O1 is available precision ground in tons of sizes and cheaper than brass. It is easy to comb cut O1 - very easy.

    Tools that I used that I had to buy:
    * A good hacksaw that has a solid back and a strong tensioner (I got a lenox, any brand that meets that is fine). I had hacksaws, but not good ones
    * I ground the very edges off of a taper saw file to get a good file to go into the corners of the pins and tails.
    * I also ground the side teeth off of an 8" mill bastard file to make a safe edge file for the mouth and filing between the pins down to the baselines
    * A $5 good quality carbide scribe (the sharper the better)
    * a round file small diameter for cutting a groove in the top of the lever cap (instead of retaining it by screws - makes it a lot easier to tune the lever cap to the iron when you're fitting everything)
    * I also got a cheap optical center punch. It's not necessary, but it really makes it easy to nail your punch marks when you need them.
    * a decent ball pein hammer with some weight - O1 is a bit tougher to pein than mild steel and brass are
    * I couple of cheap chinesse drill bits to waste / break on the plane mouth, getting it opened up enough to get a file in is all you need to do.

    I wasted a few chinese made drill bits to cut the hole for the mouth, broke a couple off. Cheaper than getting the right tool, and once enough of the mouth is opened up, you can go to the files to open things the rest of the way.

    See derek cohen's tutorial on the brese kit. You are looking to make a plane exactly like that except you're making everything, and doing dovetails. No curves, and the infills are flush fit unless you want to overstuff them. It's a plane you can build in probably 15 hours or a little more, so it's quick, and when you're done it's very useful.

    For layout with the pins and tails, you just locate the mouth and then go from there with what makes sense. Only deviation I'd do from Derek's plane is go with 55 degrees, it's plenty steep for what we have over here, and if the mouth is tight (shooting for 4 thousandths or so is nice) it will be almost impossible to get tearout with it.

    If you go after all of this, let me know, and we'll talk about the bed and what the iron should touch on the steel sole, and where it should touch on the wood and how the lever cap should fit so that you get a plane that is both very solid, and that adjusts predictably (i.e, you don't want to tap it in the middle of the back and then only have the left side of the move, which will happen if there is more tension on the left side than the right).

    Oh, and if you don't have a belt sander, some coarse files to shape the lever cap.

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