I mentioned before that I've spent a fair bit of money in the past few weeks, replacing and upgrading some tools and buying some additional hardwood stock for raw material.I took a BIG gamble.
I've been living in south FL for 4 years now. I still don't know the area as well as I should. As such, I know of a few places where I can get specialty wood for certain projects, but not much.
Purchasing hardwood is a process, and it's an intimidating one for the non-professional. I guess I stand at the educated amateur level there. I know what I need and what I want, but I have to think about it. It's not second nature to me. If you've never bought wood at a hardwood supplier, it's certainly not like Home Depot. You have to ask for what you want, specifically, there's weird nomenclature and a lot of math, and the prices are just... really high.
Fortunately, I know how to build and fix small boats, so I have a slight leg up, because otherwise I'd just be utterly lost instead of somewhat lost amidst the stacks.
So I saw a good deal online on some walnut planks, and while I was there, the price on rock maple was decent too... but I'd be buying sight unseen, which is never a good idea, especially as neither I nor my neighbors have a planer, so any misshape, knots or such are going to make the wood undesirable.. but the rep of the seller is good, and so I'm taking a chance, and if it pans out I've got a new resource.
I really don't want to buy a jointer/planer until I buy a new house and expand my shop space next summer. They're expensive and take a while to dial in, moreso because I've never owned or used one.
One advantage to having dicked around with wood boats is that curves don't scare me near as much as they perhaps should. Spherical trig is a thing in carpentry, just not taught much outside of boatbuilding.
So I've got a couple of little projects to knock out this time, and I'd like to experiment with some joinery using interlocking curved pieces of hardwood with greatly contrasting color, like the white of rock maple with the deep brown of walnut. Still, I need to start off simple, like dead simple.
The cost of wood being what it is, and my monkey ass being a rank amateur at joinery, I'm going to make some stuff with pine, and if I like it, remake it in more interesting and useful wood. I've been putting off making a stepstool for Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife to use in the kitchen and also outside, as a low seat when she's messing about with the potted plants. Being only 5' 3", and my kitchen having 9' ceilings and tall cabinets, she is at a disadvantage when she has to get rarely-used stuff off the top shelf, so a 2-step stepstool in wood would be a lot nicer than the folding Wal-mart abortion that currently clogs up space in my shop 'till she needs it. I'm going to make that in just pine, using scraps from my scrap bin, I think. Might need to get a 1x8 at the most.
I've been hemming and hawwing for a while over it, but I also need a fresh set of chisels. Mine are just beat to hell. I spent too much time tapping on them with a framing hammer and beating the steel through the handles. Where my hands are so goddamn shaky all the time (and always have been, for some reason), chisels represent a Rubicon in skill for me, something I don't lightly cross. Think of a surgeon with Parkinson's, and you'll get the idea. Truly fine woodworking might just be beyond me, but hopefully I'll find out.
I've been watching a fair number of boatbuilding and carpentry videos for a while now, and I've edited my blogroll. It's been great watching true professional artists and some amazing amateurs, too. Among my new favorites are:
Tips From a Shipwright : Louis Sauzedde is a master shipbuilder from Bristol RI. He owns a shop there, and makes small boats, including skiffs that he draws out and builds piece by piece online via Youtube. Along with having the ability to explain a damn-near mythical lost art of wooden boat building, he's also down-to-earth and a great teacher.
The Sea Dreamer Project: Follows an upper-state NY carpenter, a not boatbuilder who is building a 41' trawler yacht out of wood using designs and methods drawn up by the late George Beuhler, a well-known marine architect who dedicated his career to making boats for regular people to build.
Sampson Boat Co. Leo is a young British shipwright who moved to the US to buy and restore a rotten ancient sailboat, the 'Tally Ho' and helps underwrite the costs by filming and producing weekly videos about the whole process, including his time off, when he works on other peoples' boats to help pay the bills.
The Wood Whisperer: Marc is a master furnituremaker whose easily-accessible youtube videos have made a carpentry superstar out of him. Funny and clear, his stuff is really worth watching.
Check them out!