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Traditional Chinese Woodworking #2: Preparing stock

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Blog entry by chscholz posted 1752 days ago 3845 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Liu Shifu Part 2 of Traditional Chinese Woodworking series Part 3: The Mystery of Sung Hua Stones »

It’s all about efficiency.

For us hobbyists it is interesting to see how full-time hand tool users perform the dreaded task of stock preparation. Well, it’s all about efficenty.

It is important to note that Liu Shifu currently does not have an apprentice who would possibly be helping preparing stock. Yes, he would like to see someone take over his shop, continue his life’s work so to speak, but this is not an option at this point. In some way it is lucky that we met Liu Shifu at the end of his career: early in his career a Chinese Shifu will hardly ever allow outsiders to watch them work, not to mention photograph. In fact, Liu Shifu was very interested in the prospect that his life’s work could find a forum in the United States.

Stock preparation starts with the equivalent to a broad ax which, with enough pratice, get’s you farily close to the final dimensions of the board.



The ax is, like many tools in China laminated and for obvious reasons a-symmetric



Next is the equivalent of the Jack/scrub plane.


After that the equivalent of a fore plane, i.e. a long plane to smoothen out the hills and valleys left by the Jack plane.


And finally the smoothing plane. Without asking Liu Shifu explained that the smoothing plane is shorter than the previous planes and has a steeper bedding angle.



Similar to Western planes with Chinese planes you start the stroke with pressure to the toe of the plane and end the stroke with pressure to the heal of the plane. Of course since the ergonomics of Chinese planes are very different to Western planes this shift of pressure is nothing more than a simple movement in the wrist. So instead of coordinating left hand/arm/shoulder and right hand/arm/shoulder
to adjust the down pressure distribution just about right, you only habe to put a bit more pressure on your index fingers or your thumbs.

Checking for squareness. Notice the position of the feet realtive to the workbench. When using Chinese planes you stand almost directly behind the pice you are planing. This probably contributes to the excellent performance of this type of plane.



Highly efficient, is it not?


Thank you for listening.

Chris, Arlington, TX

-- Chris Scholz, Arlington, TX, www.Galoot-Tools.com



7 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

109257 posts in 2077 days


#1 posted 1752 days ago

Very interesting thanks for sharing

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View patron's profile (online now)

patron

12842 posts in 1841 days


#2 posted 1752 days ago

back to the basics .
how many carpenters today ,
even own hand tools ?
thank you for bringing him to life !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Zuki's profile

Zuki

1402 posts in 2577 days


#3 posted 1752 days ago

Amazing. I have marked this as a watcher. Can’t wait for the next part.

-- BLOG - http://www.colorfulcanary.com/search/label/Zuki

View woodworm's profile

woodworm

14124 posts in 2090 days


#4 posted 1752 days ago

I was reluctant to say a word, but could not stop my fingers from typing this :- chopping axe in woodworking shop,... that is awsome.

:early in his career a Chinese Shifu will hardly ever allow outsiders to watch them work, more or less its true.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Splinterman's profile

Splinterman

23058 posts in 1861 days


#5 posted 1751 days ago

The quality of work that can be turned out by these craftman with such basic tools is fantastic.

View kiwi1969's profile

kiwi1969

609 posts in 1942 days


#6 posted 1751 days ago

Big thankyou for the detailed pics. The workbench is so simple and the bench stop looks interesting, kind of our western monstrosities look like overkill. Will add this to my favorites list.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 1909 days


#7 posted 1751 days ago

Nice. Gotta love the picture of the dude smoking while he’s working. :) Can’t wait to see what the final result is. We’re so spoiled here in the western world with our power tools and LN/LV hand tools. :)

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