Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I've Got A Little Square Problem.

 I guess I feel like I have a little bit of a thing for squares. (My wife would say my tool collection issues don't really stop with just squares, and I guess I can't argue but that's besides the point) In the pic above I spent about five minutes just grabbing the squares I have within easy reach of where I like to stand at my workbench. So these are just the ones I use "all the time"
I guess my real point is that you'd think I would be pretty content, and you would be dead wrong. I have stayed away from drinking the wooden square kool-aid for awhile, but then I saw Chris Schwarz blog about a wooden square he found on Patrick Leach's monthly email of tools for sale. Whether it's the proportions, the detailed shaping, or just the subtle elegance of the piece, I knew I'd been had and I was going to head down the path of wooded squares.

I have heard some folks scoff at wooden squares, and I understand their issues with durability and the fact that there is no way I could build a square within a .00001 tolerance of square like a steel manufacturer could, but take away from the wooden square small advantages like the fact that it is a lighter weight and that it has no hard metal edges to ding or bruise the wood it's being use on. In the end The advantage of a square like this is that you built it yourself, and you will know this tool, inside and out, better than you will ever know any tool you've bought off the shelf. The other things are what you learn along the way while you are building your own tools. You get to know them better by building one.

I've made myself a couple of different tools over the past few years, not jigs but actual tools. The one that gets the most interest on here is the staircase saw I built awhile back. In order to build your own anything you have to do one really important thing. You have to think about it.

You have to think about it and make some conscious decisions based on those thoughts. What's comfortable to you? What seems to work well? What angles make it work right? What is the danger of making it work poorly? All those things and more, and even just this exercise of thinking your way around the details of a tool will probably make you better with that tool. It's a common woodworking piece of wisdom that you should check over and do maintenance on you power tools at least once a year, it's like changing the batteries in your smoke detectors at home. Blow out the sawdust from hard to reach places, check the blades for alignment, check fences for square, and maybe add a layer of paste wax to keep the corrosion off the table.

Now with hand tools, at times the maintenance is a constant, You sharpen the plane or chisel blade when it needs it. You apply some wax to your handsaws after every use. (I really try to but my shop has some moisture issues, maybe you're luckier than me). Hand tools rarely require one big day of TLC, they ask for it in little bits and pieces along the way. So in the place of the annual or biannual maintenance day, I feel that anyone with a real connection to hand tool woodworking spend a little time at least once a year, and build a tool from either scratch or from parts. Whether you build a Krenov plane from a kit, or a turning saw, build your own scratch stock tool, or just make some wooden handles to replace those crappy plastic ones from the store. It will give you a little more meaning, a little more connection, and a little more understanding, and all three of those are pretty damn good things.

Just about now I decided to build a couple sets of different wooden squares. Now for less words and more pictures.
Taking the 1X4 mahogany board I cut it to length for the first square and then used a marking gauge to set the widths Ii wanted.
You can see that my marks left some "wiggle" room in the center so as I ripped the board with the hand saw I could just get a move on and plane out any wavers of issues later to get the boards to exactly the same width.
I used my band saw to resaw the boards in half, I then planed them smooth. Down to around 3/16ths thick in the end. I chose two of the boards for the arms of the square and set about cutting the half lap joint for the corner.
Here I'm testing the fit of my cuts. A little planing and they were smooth.
I then used the pattern from the Popular Woodworking article to draw out the details to cut in the arms. The stock I used ended up narrower than what the "plan" calls for so I was not able to just trace the details on, Instead I used some a calipers, pencil, and ruler to layout something very, very similar. I cut it on one arm, shaped it with some rasps and a card scraper, then I laid it on top the other arm and traced the outline.
I used the same process to create this little detail up towards where the arms join. I have to be honest, I think this detail is the repeated interest that sells this piece to me.
I then went to the glue up of the arms knowing that it would be easier to size and joint the cross piece if the arms were stable. In order to try and save some work later I used a carpenters square to help in the glue up. In the end I'm not sure it really helped all that much but I guess it was worth a try.

Well I think that makes a long enough article for one post. I will be back in the next few days following up on the process and talking about what else I began to cook up while building "just one square"

Cheers
Oldwolf

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Concede the Battle, But I Will Continue to Wage the War

 Sometimes the hardest thing to do on a blog is take a second to be honest enough to record your mistakes, so this post is a few months in the writing. I get limited time in the shop in the winter time, mostly due to heating issues, so I decided over my limited time this winter I would tackle what I thought would be a smaller project. I gave Chuck Bender's William and Mary Bookstand a shot and with the judges decision from the first round in, hands down the bookstand kicked my ass.

I understand now what my mistake was, my big mistake anyway. I had a small amount of white oak sitting in the shop, left over from building the Medieval Hutch Chest last summer, and I wanted to use it up, I also wanted to build the bookstand, and both of those things seemed like serendipity. The result was closer to trying to fit the proverbial round peg into the square hole.
Pieces of the bookstand assembled together.

I know about making good stock selection for a piece, but I haven't had a poor choice result in the piece blowing up in my face before. The biggest issue I had was getting this stock machined flat and getting it to stay flat, This resulted in never having an easy time getting the outer frame of the stand to square up and flay down flat. It also equaled what turned into a couple big gaps in my joinery. Sometimes woodworking is not as much forcing the wood to submit to your wishes as much as it's coming to an understanding and partnership with your medium. This is a simple lesson I misplaced along the way with this piece.
Work on the bookstand in progress

I think I can blame myself for the bad blood that turned up between myself and this oak. I purposely went out and found it specifically to gain the experience of working with it, and it proved itself to be a difficult task master. It worked beautifully to build the chest I bought it for, but it wore me out. Every time I would read about a smaller project in a woodworking magazine my mind would immediately jump to the oak. "Aha," I would think, "Here's a good way to use that oak up."
The outer frame of the stand. Such a simple construct that for any of a dozen reasons I couldn't get it to square or lay flat.

I think it was that eagerness that was my undoing. There's a quote that is attributed to a psychologist named Abraham Maslow that says, "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." I guess I fell into this trap. Every woodworker builds up a collection of boards that there is no plan for, they are around to be the right thing at the right time. At one point I had a pretty nice and significant collection. If I wanted to build something I would go down to my shop and sift through the wood, looking for inspiration to strike. the wood would tell me what it wanted to become. When we moved to Maine back in early 2009 I gave my whole collection of odds and ends to a friend. Since then I have had no good way to store a decent quantity of boards, something I now realize I'm going to have to remedy soon, and so I try to stuff the small amount of stock I have into whatever dream I come up with.

I guess the end question is this, "If this piece handed my ass to me once, does that mean I'm done with it?" The answer is -- Of Course Not! I am too stubborn to give up, besides I do have a little bit of stock that has been seasoning a little while and by this late spring it will probably be ready to work, and once I mill some boards from it we'll see but I think I can hear a voice from the pile of black walnut calling out.
A pile of black walnut I had split this last fall, the logs had weathered in the woods for at least a year before I got my hands on them, They are showing me signs that they'll be ready to work some by late spring / early summer.

It only says one word

Rematch!

Cheers
Oldwolf

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting a Leg Up Again, Fixing The Bench

One...Two...Three...Spring has arrived in Wisconsin! And the peasants rejoice. Spring and the return of reasonable temperatures means more time for me in the shop. This has been my first year with my shop located in a different place than my home, and getting to it in the winter was very difficult at times. But all that is past now and I can make it out there with regularity again, and I am thankful.

One of the first things that needed to happen was kind of a spring cleaning project, and that was fixing the leg vise on my Nicholson workbench. Back in early December I was working out in the shop and had my vise, made from construction grade pine, crack. (You can read / reminisce with me about it HERE) I knew the pine was not ever going to be a long term answer anyway, but it held up through a lot of regular use for a couple years. I had some 5/4 white oak about 11" wide and I decided to use that to rebuild.
The first part of the process was removing the old vise. I unscrewed and removed the bench screw hardware and then I too a flush cut saw and cut the parallel guide off/ There was nothing wrong with the parallel guide I figured that I might as well reattach it to the new vise and make good use of it

 The next step was to measure out and cut the white oak board to the over all length I needed for the vise. I cut it about 2 inches longer than needed, and I'll explain more why I made that choice later. At any rate a crosscut saw and the saw benches made pretty quick work of this break down.
 I then went to work getting the roughness out of the board. This white oak was only rough sawn when I bought it and it has been tough to work with, It has been especially hard on my plane blades, causing me to sharpen the hell out of them regularly. This time I chose to attack with the belt sander instead. It still took a good amount of work.
 When I was planning for cutting the board to length I ran across this knot placed perfectly in the center of the board. I really had to plan around it or the board wouldn't be of use for long. I couldn't place the knot in the skinnier, lower leg section of the vise because I was worried it would be a weak point and result in another catastrophic crack very quickly.
 the only thing I could come up with was to center the hole for the bench screw and allow the drilling for the screw to eat up the knot.
 So here's the oak, sanded to "smooth enough for me." I used the old vise to trace the pattern onto the new vise.
 I also traced out the location of the mortise hole for the parallel guide. I grabbed the bench chisels and went to banging out the hole.
 After test fitting the parallel guide to make sure I had fit right I went to cutting out the narrower leg portion of the vise. My small bandsaw just doesn't have enough clearance to perform this so I cut out the form with a jig saw.
 I did not cut the slanted top cut at this point. After I cut the narrow portion I used the belt sander to smooth and even out the sides, making sure I maintained a smooth line and transition from the fat top to the skinny bottom, (there's a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not sure I'm the guy to tell it) Then I drilled the holes for and attached the bench screw, slid the parallel guide in place temporarily and cinched the new vise into place.

Now I still had not cut the angled top cut. This is what I was waiting for because it was important to get it right. there was no guarantee this vice would fit exactly the same as the previous one I had templated from. I wanted to make sure the vise top cut and the bench top were the same. So I put it together and then scribed the line for the right cut on the back of the vise, Then I took it apart again and took all the hardware off. Grabbed the crosscut saw again from before and made the diagonal cut following the mark I scribed.
 Now I knew this oak would hold a crisper edge than the original construction lumber had and I didn't want to cut myself with in at all. So I threw the vise board face up on some bench cookies and went around it with a cove bit, using about three passes to get to the depth I preferred
 Then I hooked everything up for good, secured the parallel guide with a single finishing nail to hold it secure and give it a pivot point. I love this picture of the new vise holding the old vise board in it's crush.
 Now since I have built the bench edge planing has been an issue with this vise. If the board is a little long I cannot clamp it tight enough to hold the board rigid in place against the weight of my handplaning. I have thought about this problem for a long while and pondered many solutions, from a sliding deadman retrofit in place to a placing a whole new wide front apron board with a variety of holes drilled for deadman, peg like support and the use of holdfasts.

As I was thinking about it I was looking at the pieces of oak I had recently cut from the narrow sections of the new leg vise. So I cleaned them up, planed them to equal width. Using an bevel gauge I set the angle of tehe end cuts to match the angle of the legs. I drilled a series of 3/4" holes all about 2 inches apart. I had to join up the two pieces because neither one was long enough to do the job on it's own.
 I then dug out the pocket hold jig and drilled some passages into the backside of the board.
 I then secured the deadman board to the bottom of the bench with some glue and the pocket screws. I stepped back and decided that it looked pretty damn nice.
 I found I like to use a holdfast to do the support most of the time as a few raps of the mallet and it adds some grip of it's own
 Well that's it for the repair and improvement, With luck the vise will last me a bit longer than 2 years this time around. If not. . .  I guess it'll be back to the drawing board time.It's important that I remember to think about this bench regarding its original intentions. An experiment. Well let the experiment continue.

Cheers
Oldwolf

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Little Something New.

Just a quick note this evening to make people aware of a little something I've added to the blog. Over the last year I've had around a half a dozen requests from folks to create some type of way to send them updates on my blog when they happen. Either their blog reader's are already over stuffed (guilty myself), or they try to come back and visit to see what's different and forget to do so for a period of time, or they just aren't computer savvy enough to set something up on their own.

I understand all these issues, so today I set about making a change to the blog that will help those folks and maybe offer some additional content to regular readers. I've decided to supplement with a monthly newsletter. If you're interested in getting a copy of the newsletter there is a new little black box in the margin of the blog, You click on subscribe and follow the instructions.

It may require you to set up a Google account to get started, but when I tested it I realized that after you sign up the black box area displays an option to change which email address your newsletter will go to. This means you can set it then to whatever address you desire.

I have what I think are some great ideas for this newsletter as time progresses, I think we can have fun with this, but I do want to assure you that I will not sell, rent, borrow, or give away any of your information. Those activities are reserved for the lowest forms of pond scum and even on my worst day I couldn't do that. Any information you receive through this newsletter will be coming directly from me, just like every word you read on this blog.

At any rate I urge you all to take advantage of this new venue and subscribe to the newsletter to make sure you catch all the news from Inside the Oldwolf Workshop. Thank You

Cheers

Oldwolf

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Online Guide to Making a Small Fortune Woodworking.

This morning on Twitter I caught a quick note by a friend that made me feel some sympathy for him but also brought back some memories itself. As a refresher I do work a day job to support my family and my sawdust addiction, I work a Surgical Technologist specializing in Orthopedics. Basically that means I'm the monkey that hands the scalpel and other instruments to the doctor.

A few years ago I worked for a different hospital than I do now. I had worked there for a couple years, starting almost right out of school, and it was a good place for a while, I still have people I consider friends who work there, but things changed, some of those changes were the hospital, I think now most of the changes that made the difference were from inside me. Going to work became a grueling experience every morning.


After waking up and checking and double checking to make sure I didn't feel a touch of the flu coming on I would decide it was finally time to man up and go to work. After my drive in I would park my car and just sit in it and stare at the building with my stomach in knots. One thought would cross through my mind day after day. "Maybe today is the day I step out onto the street and another car flies by and hits me. That way I don't have to go in there today, or hopefully, for a while."
It never happened. Wish as I might there was never an out of control car flying down the street, barely controlled by the driver, as fate turned the steering wheel and sandwiched me between its grill and my open car door. My dream, my hope of flying through the air for a brief couple seconds only to crash onto the concrete in a crumpled mess of broken bones never materialized. I was sure the pain of such an traumatic impact would pale in comparison to the repeated, long drawn out pain I faced everyday when I had to force myself to walk through those doors and go to work.

Kind of disturbing huh? As I look back on it now I'm not exactly proud of those feelings and thoughts, I like to think of myself as more of a man than that, but I'm old enough now to understand that everyone hits the bottom of the barrel at least once in their lives, for most of us it probably happens several times. But this is a woodworking blog and what does this confession have to do with woodworking? Hold on because I'm going to get there. I promise.
The woodworking part comes with the decisions I made after I passed that chapter in my life. After feeling that way for the better part of a year, I left that hospital for another. I still have a serene feeling of satisfaction when I remember the look on the face of my manager when I gave her my two week notice. Somehow, almost nobody saw my departure coming. But more importantly it made me really start to think about what I do for a living and whether I could find that thing that would be a combination of work and passion. It's the most important piece of throw away advice you'll ever get.

That time and those feelings are roughly seven years past, but I think they were the catalyst for the rocky times I've had since then, Since I left that hospital in early 2005 I have been on a search that has led me through six jobs and a move halfway across the country and back. I'm very sure I have settled down now and stability is starting to return to our lives, but along the journey I discovered something else about myself. That I had a real talent and passion for woodworking.

For me, my greatest feeling of accomplishment has always been in doing something creative, and woodworking is the ultimate for me in that it allows me to be creative while also providing something that is practical and useful. It's a perfect storm of art and function. In '05 I was really still just a fledgling woodworker. It was something I played at, but it was that one thing that followed me along that journey through the different jobs and different states. When we moved to Maine in the beginning of '09 I really began to take it serious, I began to think about woodworking not as something I sometimes DID, but as something I wanted to DO!

I don't rush into anything, I plan and plod along trying to carefully place one foot in front of the other, doing my best to temper my occasional desire to run with the knowledge that things will work out better if I walk. I have a friend who kind of pokes at me occasionally because I'm so deliberate, but it's the way I am. So for a while I have been walking down the path to finding myself a place where I can make a living, a happy living, in the world of woodworking. In this day and age I have no illusions of making it solely by doing custom woodworking pieces directly for clients. I believe that will be a portion of what the Oldwolf Workshop does right along side teaching and writing. Everything is in the basket, and if you are out there, reading this, and thinking about doing something similar, even if it's not woodworking, then I encourage you to put yourselves out there too.

There are hurdles in your way. I'm fighting those hurdles the same as you will have to, I cannot lie about them. Those hurdles come from within you. That little voice that says "You can't do this." or "It's not worth the effort." or my favorite, "Nobody will like your crap anyway." Those voices don't leave, ever, straight up truth. but you have to recognize where those voices come from and that they are not there to help.

What doesn't help is the voices from the outside that do their best to reinforce your inner cynicism. Recently I was to a show where had a chance to sit down with a couple of other woodworkers, both of whom are more successful and accomplished that me. The ultimate evidence of this is that both of them were working the show as speakers and teachers, and I had bought a ticket to get in there, but one of them knew who I was through my blog and twitter presence and he invited me to catch a few minutes with them on one of their breaks. In a few minutes I kind of described my background and my desire that I could make a living making sawdust. Now I didn't really say these things looking for support from them, but they exchanged a quick look between the two of them, one of those knowing looks, like "oh no, another one riding the pipe dream" One of the fellows, who is a known name in woodworking, and is an on staff, big contributor to one of the top woodworking magazines, pulled out the old line that everyone in woodworking has heard a million times.

"Well, you know the way to make a small fortune woodworking is to start with a large fortune."

"Ya, I know." was all I could muster to answer.
I laughed the first time I heard this line, it's cute and catchy, I'll give it all of that. But over time I have come to recognize it as the most defeatist and cynical sentences I have ever heard, and if there's anything I know about it's cynicism. I guess this attitude is just something I fail to understand. Here is a well known figure in the community, someone people look up to, someone who was touted as an attraction to help draw woodworkers to come to this show. I didn't sit in on one of his seminars, but I know that all the folding chairs were full when he was talking. He makes his living using sawdust, but in a cynical moment he tried to put his foot on the throat of my hopes. If I had met him and had this conversation several years ago while I was still trying to figure things out. Who knows what effect that may have had. Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe how I felt about the experience.

I cannot locate the quote tonight, but I know I've read in one of James Krenov's books something akin to him saying, "Nobody ever told me I couldn't make a living at this, so I went ahead and did." Nobody ever told me I couldn't write a blog and use it as a spring board to make great connections in the woodworking world. I think of the dozens of people I've met now, a couple I can call good friends. None of that is possible without my sitting down and deciding to begin to record on a blog how I decided to go about building a workbench.

Sam Maloof and James Krenov have passed us by. We miss them, their, ingenuity, personalities, and passion. But someone will have to fill their shoes evetually, could it be me? Could it be you? Someone has to be the next Roy Underhill, Chris Schwarz, Norm Abrahms, Charles Neil, or Peter Follansbee. Undertand I'm not calling for replacing anyone of these great personalities, I'm not looking for someone to pick up St. Roy's red suspenders once he lays them down. I'm saying there will always be a need for someone who wants to inspire, wants to teach, wants to be a doorway to let other people into the world of woodworking.

SInce it is Albert Einstein's Birthday today, I will leave you with a couple lines from him that I read and found to be relevant.

“for those who would joyously march in rank and file, they have already earned my contempt, for they were given a large brain by accident when a spinal chord would have sufficed.”
-Albert Einstein

“True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.”
-Albert Einstein

Cheers
Oldwolf

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'm Your Huckleberry

"I'm your huckleberry, that's just my game."

One of the great lines of the 1993 movie Tombstone which followed the story (in a Hollywood way)  of Wyatt Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil, and his best friend Doc Holiday. Being a little bit of a movie geek I have used this line before and I assumed it had some connection to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, where Huck always played second fiddle to Tom’s schemes. So when I’ve used it around friends I’ve basically meant, “I’ll follow your lead.”

For reasons that will be apparent in a minute, that movie and that phrase has been on my mind over last week. So I did a little research into what the it was actually supposed to mean. I found THIS PAGE of research done by a fellow who advises for the Oxford English Dictionary. Basically back in the mid to late 19th Century the phrase “I’m your huckleberry” meant “I’m the right person for the job.” So I wasn’t too far off in my usage, and "the right person for the job" fits so much better to the way I'm thinking about it now.

I handsaw all of my dovetail joints. I have tried all kinds of saws in my search for the right “huckleberry,” and I have always found something I didn’t like or had to modify to get a saw to perform up to my standards. When it comes to dovetailing there are two things I have come to appreciate in a good saw.

1)  I like an aggressive cutting saw. Even though I enjoy working with hand tools that doesn’t mean I want to spend three minutes and thirty strokes to accomplish one cut,

2) I like a open handle western style design to the grip because I like the way it fits my hand, the control I get, and, sometimes most importantly, - it looks good. Seriously, an open handle on a dovetail saw just looks right. More than any other joint, dovetails have a drama about them, a theatrical soul that screams “look here…look at me!” It seems natural to me that the saw that helps create them should reflect that same spirit.
Open style handle made in poplar to replace the handle that came on a Japanese style pull saw.
One evening, while having a few beers with a neighbor and fellow saw-degenerate Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tool Works, and he let slip that he was in the process of designing some open handle dovetail saws. Now, if you talk saws with Mark for even five minutes you will find that there is likely nobody on this earth more knowledgeable about the factors that go into what makes a saw work and work well, and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to use or own a Bad Axe Saw then you know that knowledge and obsessive attention to detail result in a saw that is an experience to use. When Mark said he was working on open handles, I knew I this might be the best chance I could ever have to find my dovetailing huckleberry.

Now if I had my way, I’d own one of everything than Mark makes, yes I consider him a friend and we swill some beer together on occasion, but I really do believe in his products and process, where else can you go to have one craftsman, just one guy working out of his shop, build you a saw to your specifications. Focused 100% on your order as he puts the pieces together, hand sharpens and sets the teeth, then takes it for a quick test drive to make sure it lives up to his high standards before he ships it to your door. Mark is creating a product that hasn’t been available in a “new” out of the box form probably since the hand tool haydays of the early 1800’s. Where else can you go and get that these days?  Unfortunately, as a family man raising three kids in this day and age I cannot afford to indulge myself the way I would like and I am forced to strive to get the most bang for my hard earned buck. Here’s where the saw Mark has nicknamed Wyatt Earp comes in. 
Wyatt Earp
 Mark calls "Wyatt" a hybrid dovetail / small tenon saw. This just screamed versatility from the get go, and versatility is exactly what I look for when I’m making an addition to my shop. The more jobs a tool can do, the more valuable it is to me. The other day I got the opportunity to give that versatility a test drive. I have an old Disston backsaw with a bend in the saw plate I picked up at a flea market. I know how to remove rust and I can sharpen it myself but straightening the saw plate needed the touch of someone like Mark. I sent him an email and asked if I could just drop the saw off at his shop. “No problem,” he said, “Come on by."
Flea Market Disston Backsaw in need of a little TLC
When I got there he said, “Hey come on down to the shop...I’ve got something I want to show you.” Well how do you turn down that? I followed him down the stairs into what I've come to call his “Saw Dungeon,”  he clamped a chunk of 6/4 white oak into the leg vice of his bench and put the prototype of "Wyatt" into my eager hand. I went to work cutting dovetail cuts and immediately knew I made the right choice when I had placed the order weeks before.

A while back I made a flip statement on Twitter that I was having a good time cutting dovetails in the shop that day. Shannon Rodgers of The Renaissance Woodworker Hand Tool School answered and teased that I should try cutting them in white oak and then decide if I was having fun. Right away I felt compelled to check over my entire shop to see where the spy cameras had been installed, because I was cutting them in white oak that day, and I was having a tougher time of it than usual. Now I stood at the workbench at Bad Axe Headquarters and that exchange came back to me as I was plowing thorough 6/4 white oak to an inch or more depth in 5 to 6 strokes. When I was done cutting four or five cuts I absentmindedly rubbed my fingers over the backside of the cuts, certainly expecting there to be tear out. After feeling for it I had to hang my head over the board to look and see, There was some small amount of tear out but hardly enough to think abouut much less mention.
Down in Mark's Saw Dungeon Giving "Wyatt Earp" a workout.
Even though the saw was filed rip for the tails mark gave me the bench hook and another piece of oak and asked me to try crosscutting with it. I gave him the eye like “really” but went to it. If Mark wanted someone to saw then I’d be his huckleberry. The cut was smooth and regular, there was minimal tear out on the backside of the wood. In fact if I hadn’t already known the saw was filed rip, I wouldn’t have guessed it. As I said before versatility is so important to me and this saw fills that ticket fully, When I want to travel light to an installation/repair, woodworking class, or demonstration, I’ll be able to pack one back saw for most of my needs.
But Mark was not through grabbing my attention. He pulled out a shorter 10” dovetail saw, also with an open handle, and put it in my hand. I looked closely at what he’d given me.

“That’s a very fine toothline.” I said.
Mark nodded “Yup, 16 ppi.” He answered.
“I've got to admit,” I said, “I’ve owned high ppi saws before and I don’t use them because they don’t work very well.”
“Well, that is something I worried about,” He admitted, “But give it a try and tell me what you think”

I started on some 4/4 cherry, and eventually went to some 5/4 white oak, again I put the saw through all the paces Mark and I could come up with. including crosscutting with the rip filed teeth. The experience was totally different than all my other experiences with a high ppi saw. I started working with it biased to dislike it and in no time it won me over. Mark said he was thinking about nicknaming it "Doc Holiday" as a complement to the larger "Wyatt Earp." I didn’t really make the connection right at that moment but later on, as I spent the rest of the day working in the shop, and even later on at the dinner table with my family, I was still thinking about "Doc." I still feel that my order of the larger “Wyatt” was the right place for me to start, but I can think of so many instances, especially recently, where I would have reached for the “Doc Holiday” instead. I started to revise my opinion that I could live with only one dovetail saw.
The 10" Doc Holiday, changed my mind about high ppi saws
Either by accident or by sheer evil genius, Mark has really had found something here with the balance between these two saws. Even though they are great saws individually, paired together they can accomplish so much more. The 12” “Wyatt” is a fast cutting saw whose longer plate makes it perfect for cutting thicker stock, say 3/4 or 4/4 and up. But there are times your designs call for cutting small dovetails and joinery in thinner stock, say 1/4 up to 3/4, and here’s where the 10” “Doc Holiday” can make sweet. I can see myself reaching for Doc when I need to cut dowels for drawboring or smaller square ebony stock for Greene & Greene reproductions.

No tool can replace good working technique or the hands and eye of a craftsman, and if you’ve read my blog here for any length of time, you’ll know that I do not break down and gush over a tool  often, if ever. These are the first tools I have ever come across that I would have to call highly recommended by the Oldwolf Workshop. To his credit Mark has created a pair of saws that I’m sure will compete with your favorite dovetail saw and will probably win that competition hands down. Individually or together “Wyatt Earp” and “Doc Holiday” are ready to be your huckleberry.  You can find Mark and order these saws for yourself over at his website www.badaxetoolworks.com 
The humble huckleberry (from Wikipedia)
Cheers
Oldwolf