Thursday, July 01, 2010

Schwarz Syndrome

Schwarz Syndrome: a virulent and highly infectious disease found particularly within the internet woodworking community. Manifests itself as an insatiable appetite for Southern Yellow Pine and obsessive reading of anything and everything on workbenches. Chronic sufferers may well end up with more workbenches than they actually have room for.

I think I may have caught a slightly less chronic case, but caught it I have. After considerable internal and external debate, I came to the conclusion The Vice That Mr Emmert Built is going to have to have its own bench, and the endless consultation of all words workbench is the inevitable result. And these days, you can't imagine building a bench without consulting the words of The Schwarz, can you? Of course, one of his earliest words is how you really don't need fancy vices, but we'll draw a veil over that... So I've dumped a large wedge of moolah on some SYP (because I'm curious about it anyway, and this is a good excuse) and am currently suffering from a mixture of excitement over actually getting to grips with a woodworking challenge again - and trepidation over exactly how it's going to go.

But where's this bench going to go, Alf? I hear you ask. The Woodrat, alas, will be a loser in all this. For the first time in its life it won't be able to have a dedicated bit of wall to hang on. That does sort of worry me, but then again it's not like it gets used much. It's a bit like a side rebate plane - doesn't get used often, but when it does it's something of a lifesaver. Anyway, I'm thinking some sort of brackety-standy thing that can be clamped either to the bench or the tablesaur half of the Maxi. Which'll be another thing to make. Sigh. I think I need to start a list...

Other things on the list include some serious tidying up of the w'shop, and, I reckon, a bit more cleaning up of aforementioned vice than I had initially anticipated. The dreaded rust has been at work and it took me quite a time just to get the dogs out of the jaws and the tilting plate jobbie actually tilting again. It bodes, my friends. It bodes. Heigh ho.

And finally, the observant will spot that finally, after, um, some years, I've finally given the blog a bit of a facelift. I may yet be tweaking it again - that's Alf Syndrome. The ability to fiddle with something completely different in order to avoid doing something that actually needs to be done. Hopefully it's not infectious...


  1. Alf Syndrome: not just infectious, it's endemic to human kind. I wonder that you can name it for yourself.
    I am looking forward to the coming Schwarz.

    Michael in Corsham

  2. Alf, it's been a long time, over one year, since I visited your blog. Good to see that you're posting again. I was influenced by your series of blogs on chisel handles and did some of my own in the London Pattern like that. It is still my favorite style of chisel and small tool handle - to my way of thinking the octagonal array of flats gives a lot of control over the chisel in hand.

    Since you're curious about SYP - I did my first bench in that, using the construction common kiln dried but generally case-hardened SYP in available here in the southern USA. A good choice for bench construction but the wood does move and twist a lot, even after you think it is dried and acclimated fully to the moisture content of your shop. It's the "most twisty" wood I've ever used for anything (can't think of a better way to say that). My bench has some tiny spaces that open up between the planks in the top in the winter, even though I chose quartersawn pieces for the top, and thought I laminated them together properly. I still like the bench a lot. You probably have better quality wood than construction common. Good luck, EH

  3. Al
    Great to see you fired up again!
    I made a place for my 'Rat on the end of the tablesaur - when needed I grab it from under a bench and slot it in place.
    Keep up the good work,
    Philly :)

  4. Alf - glad to see you have stepped onto the greasy Schwarz slope. I'll be interested to see what design you will go for (English/French/Other?)

    The SYP I've been using so far has been rock solid, during its acclimitation and initial milling, it's barely moved at all, and has been a joy to work.

  5. Alf,
    It's a delight to see you're writing again! I look forward to seeing what you do to create a suitable home for that vice!


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