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Thread: Neander Interview: Dave Anderson

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX

    Neander Interview: Dave Anderson

    1. Name (and nick names):
    Dave Anderson

    2. Age/DOB

    3. Location (present and previous):
    Chester, NH for 18 years, raised in Rochester, NY

    4. Tell us about your family:
    The LOML life Sue, a stepson David (34), and 2 grandchildren-Aaron 11 and Charissa 13

    5. How do you earn a living, woodworking or other, any interesting previous occupations?
    I was trained as a BS civil engineer in water supply and sewerage, but have been in industrial sales selling custom manufacturing services for gaskets, seals, electrical insulators, thermal interface materials, and EMI/RFI shielding for the past 30 years. I'm currently the sales manager for my company. For several years in the 1980s a partner and I ran a side business importing British sea kayaks and equipment and running tours and lessons. While profitable, it ate up all our extra time so we folded it. I also served as rifleman and machine gunner in Vietnam with B 1/7 1st Marine Division 68-69. Other jobs included carpenter, mason, retail store clerk, and of course now--part time toolmaker.

    6. Equipment overview (hand tools and other):
    I have a modest power tool shop with 6" jointer, 12 1/2" planer, drill press, contractor's saw, lathe, router table, 18" bandsaw, and a variety of hand power tools. These tools are my apprentices and relieve me of most of the unskilled stock prep work in the shop. As a hand tool junkie I have a full complement of hand saws, braces, planes, spokeshaves, drawknives, chisels, and carving tools. In my hand tools there is a mixture of items purchased new, auction purchases, inherited tools, and things I have made. I bought a set of the L-N chisels last year, but still occasionally use my old Blue Chips and many of the old Witherby, Underhill, and other chisels from the 19th century.

    7. Describe your shop:
    My shop is the full basement of my house and I'm fortunate that the front wall is half height and gives me 2 double hung windows on each side and allows plenty of natural light. It is divided into a bench room and a machine room, and since I'm a Neanderthal by inclination the bench room is far larger than the machine room. The machine room is crowded and almost everything but the lathe and the drill press are on mobile bases. The bench room is comfortable, well lit, and contains a wood stove and a dehumidifier. My bench is simple with only 1 face vise, dog holes, and a number of bench aids to make it more versatile. At 20+ years old it will be superseded this year with a new bench, incorporating the Emmert K-1 patternmaker’s vise I picked up last month. My hand tools are wall hung behind the bench for easier access.

    8. Tell us about the hand planes you own, and your favorite one(s) to use:
    I've always been a bit of a hand plane junkie. The assortment is a mix of about 3/4 used or inherited planes and about 1/4 purchased new. For the new stuff I have L-N #66, 4 1/2, #073, #85. #98-99, Lee Valley low angle block plane and a low angle smoother, Shepherd #7 Spiers infill and a Shepherd infill chariot plane, a Steve Knight 50 degree smoother, and a Clark & Williams 55 degree smoother, 2 Crown Plane compass planes, a Crown travisher, Stanley #92, Stanley #93
    In the used department I have Stanley #3 (3), #4 (2), #4 1/2 (2), #5 (2), #5 1/2, #6, #7, #78, #79, #80, #45, a Two Tone #140, and assorted block planes. I have a Sargent #409 (equivalent of a Stanley #4), and a Record #044. For woodies I have a razee fore plane, a 22" Union fore plane, a 28" Union jointer, a half set of Griffiths of Norwich (UK) 50 degree skewed hollows and rounds, a half set of Andrus of NJ hollows and rounds, and about 2 dozen assorted beading planes and complex molders.

    Of all the planes I own the most thrilling to use is a rather pedestrian type 7 Stanley #3. Engraved on the left sidewall are the initials JA JR. While well patinated, it has never, during its life, seen a speck of rust though the blade is worn down to within 1/2" of the eye. Originally the property of my Great-G-G Grandfather James Anderson Junior it normally resides in a place of honor on a special shelf in the corner of my bench room. No other plane gives me the same satisfaction to use or hold as this link to my family history. To this day it is sharp and ready to use at any time.

    9. You favorite chisels:
    While I have the ubiquitous set of Marples Blue Chips and still use them, I also have a mix of new and old here too. I have a left and right pair of Crown 1/2" skew chisels, a 1/2" cranked neck pairing chisel, a Sorby corner chisel, and a mix of Underhill, Witherby, Sorby, and others in assorted paring, timber framing, mortising, and shipwright sizes. I have a set of in-cannel gouges in larger sizes. I also have about 2 dozen Pfeil woodcarving gouges.
    My favorite chisels are the set of 6 Lie-Nielsen bench chisels I bought last summer. They are well balanced, easy to sharpen, and hold an edge very well. While expensive, I use chisels so often that I thought I'd treat myself to a top quality set that actually matched. I suspect I'll add some additional sizes when I get around to it.

    10. Your favorite handsaw(s):
    My absolute favorite saw is a Disston #7 panel saw with a 16" blade filed to 10 tpi crosscut. It's ideal for the occasional quick cut at the bench and avoids the need to go and use a saw bench. I have a full assortment of saws in my saw till, the vast majority of them inherited or purchased used and rehabed. Of the saws I purchased new, the L-N carcass and dovetail saws are the best performers. I also have a Lee Valley flush cutting saw, a coping saw, and a jewelers saw. The regular handsaws are a mix of Disston, Atkins, Wilkinson, and Jackson. I also have bowsaws in both the 6" and 12" lengths for use as coping and turning saws respectively. These are ones I've made myself.

    11. Do you use western tools or Japanese, why do you prefer the ones you use?
    I am exclusively a user of western/european style tools. I was taught using these tools and I feel that in order to keep up and improve my skills I nee to continue along this path. I don't have the time, money, or inclination to learn a whole new style and set of skills. I find the Japanese style interesting and admire folks like Jim Blauvelt who have completely mastered it, but it's just not for me.

    12. Do you have a woodworking home page?
    My only homepage is that of my side business where I make specialty hand tools for woodworking. The gallery section does show some photos of both my bench room and the tool wall and of some of the furniture I've built.

    13. Do you have any influences in your work? Certain styles or designers you follow/prefer:
    With the exception of shop furniture, fixtures, and storage which are utilitarian, I tend toward traditional 18th century furniture styles. Both my wife Sue and I particularly like Queen Anne furniture and some of the earlier and less ornate versions of Chippendale. I enjoy the interplay of the combinations of positive and negative space and the small amount of ornamentation. I would love to build some Federal style furniture, but Sue doesn't like it and I have no idea where it would go. Such are the compromises of married life.

    14. Do you have any ancestors who were woodworkers that served as inspiration?
    For 7 generations (up to me) my family has worked wood either as a full time profession or an avocation. Until about a month ago I thought it was 6 generations, but a 2" thick package of genealogical information from my cousin Bob in Kennewick Washington corrected me. In the mid 1840s when my Great-G-G-G Grandfather James Anderson, a Scot living in Ireland immigrated to Cambridge MA, he was already a journeyman carpenter/shipwright. His son James Junior followed the trade, as did James' son Robert. My Great Grandfather John Anderson (son of Robert) was a carpenter and my Grandfather John Jr worked in a hardware store but kept a shop and a large greenhouse. My dad Raymond, like me, is only a hobby woodworker. I am fortunate enough that my Dad and Uncle David have given me the 2 family tool chests complete with most of the contents. They occupy places of honor in my shop. Even while I type this I am brought almost to tears thinking of how fortunate I am to have the use of my family tools. Some of them have been continuously used by Andersons for over 160 years.

    15. What is your favorite neander project, or part of a project, you have ever done and why:
    My only completely and totally Neander project is a small square mahogany table sitting in the corner of the front entryway of our house. It was an exercise done in a class run by Jon Gunterman, a former member of our NH guild who has since moved away. I credit Jon with moving me away from the strictly power tool side of woodworking and introducing me to the joy of hand tools. Most of the other furniture I've built has been done with the majority of work done with hand tools, but the mahogany table was the only piece that started with rough cut boards and a scrub plane.

    16. Do you believe there is any spiritual dimension to woodworking with hand tools?
    Woodworking to me is not a religious or Zen like experience. It is however something in which I take great joy and from which I get enormous pleasure. When working in the shop time is unimportant and nothing else in the world matters.

    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:

    Most, but not all of my work is done with hand tools. Rough stock prep and shaping irregular curves are done with powered jointers, planers, and the band saw. My final finished surfaces, all joinery, and most crosscut are all done with hand tools. I see no point in ripping a long board, thicknessing stock, or rough shaping a cabriole leg by hand. It cuts into the time I could better use doing fine hand work.

    18. What is your single most favorite tool, and why.
    Without a doubt my favorite tools are spokeshaves though I can't pick out a single one from the dozen and a half I own. I enjoy making them and I enjoy using them even more. Few tools are as versatile.
    Last edited by Zahid Naqvi; 02-27-2006 at 11:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Etobicoke, Ontario
    Well met Mr. Anderson...thank you for your numerous contributions to a quality endeavour...namely, this site...and of course, for that bloody organized shop that my wife is naggin me to emulate!!!!
    Louis Bois
    "and so it goes..." Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  3. #3
    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the interview-- I've always enjoyed your contributions to the threads on SMC!

    I see that you used to import British sea kayaks. Which ones did you deal with? I have soft spot in my heart for British boats, too-- I paddle an NDK Romany. What a fantastic boat for playing in the steep waves that we have here on Lake Michigan!!!


  4. #4
    Great interview!!!

  5. #5
    Great interview Dave. Always great to hear more about the members here at the creek. Thanks.
    "When we build, let us think that we build forever." - Ruskin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Laguna Beach , Ca.
    Dave, Great information ...wonderful profile! Only 7 generations
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  7. #7

    Thanks for a wonderful interview. It is always nice to learn more of fellow creekers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina
    Thanks for the interview, Dave.

    Folks, those tool chests he's talking about almost have to be seen to be believed!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX
    7 generation, that takes some doing. I have always appreciated your help anytime I have put forward a question about hand tools. Your insight and experience are greatly appreciated.

  10. Dave,
    Great interview.

    I looked at your home page. I really liked the Windsor settee. I've wanted to make one, but the bending aspect has kept me from trying it.
    I also liked your bowsaws.
    Rob Millard

  11. Wonderful interview! You are indeed most fortunate to be able to trace your woodworking roots so far back. I can read in your description how much you love your family's tools and I hope you are able to pass them on to someone who has the same appreciation.
    Big Mike

    I have done so much with so little for so long I am now qualified to do anything with nothing......

    P.S. If you are interested in plans for any project that I post, just put some money in an envelope and mail it to me and I will keep it.

  12. #12

    Thanks Folks

    Dan, my partner and I imported the McNulty Huntsman and the Sea Hunter all of which are long gone. I currently paddle either my Nordkapp HM or a Klepper doulble when tripping or traveling.

    Michael, Either my stepson or my grandson will get the tools. David is mostly doing home improvement now with his 110 year old 3 decker. I've had the opportunity to teach my grandson Aaron some of the basics of hand tool use. He can saw to a line, use a spokeshave and molding plane, and his dovetails aren't too bad.

    If any of yo folks get up this way let me know. The shop is always open to all.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Columbia, SC
    Thanks, Dave, for the interview. l have admired your work for a long time and I have enjoyed getting to know you a little better.

  14. #14
    As a proud owner of your tools...and a fellow New Englander...nice to know you a little better. Someday...there's a visit down your way.
    Glenn Clabo

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    KC, MO

    You are a talented craftsman indeed!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us on SMC. You are very kind to do so!

    Hope to make it to your shop someday!!!

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