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OT: Woodworking stuff... is that Rex Kreuger fellow a decent source of info?

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  • OT: Woodworking stuff... is that Rex Kreuger fellow a decent source of info?

    He has a LOT of videos out, and generally makes sense. But I am only an "occasional" woodworker, so I was wondering if his sometimes unorthodox info is as reasonable as it sounds. In the 'net you never know

    Ran into his stuff looking up a couple of Stanley planes I obtained.
    CNC machines only go through the motions

  • #2
    In general Rex does fairly good videos, well reaserched and factually correct, his sometimes obscure methods work, he’s not norm Abraham with unlimited budget and more dedicated (lovely word) machines than most universities, Rex comments on Aldi chisels is bang on, they are quite good especially with some new handles, I’ve been learning woodbashing, wood welding, etc for a few years now and I’ve found lots of good info on his videos, can’t fault him.
    dovetailing draws is the latest venture, very satisfying when it comes out right, though I do wish we could get the wood over here, hardwoods are bloody expensive, more than steel in a lot of cases!
    mark

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    • #3
      Norm Abrams was a power tool and pneumatic nailer wielding wood butcher. Nothing demonstrated would pass muster in a high school wood shop.
      More of framing carpenter and house builder than fine craftsman.

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      • #4
        There's a fairly popular movement towards mostly hand tool wood working. Rex is one of those providing material in that direction. Two other notable options are Paul Sellers and James Wright (Wood By Wright). All three have very good videos on selecting and using hand power only. And even making a lot of your old traditional tools or jigs to be used with those tools.

        Of course there are others. Many of them also very good. Some helpful and some that just make things that inspire. Heck, even all of the old Wood Wright series with Roy Underhill are available on YT.

        As a then new "fine" wood worker hobbyist in the late 1980's I enjoyed watching Roy's Wood Wright Shop series. In particular how he would try to cram sooooo much material into the 20 or 25 minutes that it was an iron clad cinch that he would look like a hack. But near the end of the project with a flourish of one arm he would sweep aside the disastrous creation of the moment to be replaced with the more carefully done pre camera time option showing neat and tidy joinery that could be done when not under the time limits of the producer.

        Of the three I have to say that Rex has the most pragmatic view about what is "good enough". His Roman low bench and recent Nicholson work bench are done in a solid but very time and effort conscious manner which is "good enough" but far from furniture level. On the other hand he did a rather nice job on his pine cabinet for the kitchen pantry given that it was supposed to be a period style project. If you're looking for ways and means for doing occasional powerless wood working I'd say that his ways are good ways to copy. As for the details of how to buy, use and maintain the hand tools all three along with many others offer up pretty much all the same tried and true methods. Other than a small thing here and there none of it is new after all.

        The only thing I will add as a good option is to get a set of water stones and a single coarse diamond plate to dress them. I picked up a 120 and 180 plate recently for cheap off Amazon. It uses a plastic core but with only a little care to spread out the pressure it does a fantastic job of keeping the stone faces flat... enough....

        I too used to scoff at Norm Abrams and the fact that he rarely ever picked up a tool which was not air or electric powered. I swear he probably had a battery powered pencil as well! But to be fair he was able to crank out decent enough work that fit in with the usual home handy man that might not have had a lot of time to work with hand tools. Folks with family find that there's enough demands on their time that if they have to power up then power up and enjoy creating. And Norm was very much the leader in that direction. Different strokes..... And I say this in Norm's defense because back when I did my cabinetry for my wood and metal shops about 7 years ago now I discovered the magic and joy of a brad nailer.... I felt lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut for tossing aside my "lofty standards"... And I smiled frequently at my previous disdain for Norm's Way. But darned if the lowly brad nailer isn't a wondrous thing... Even if it does feel like cheating....

        Shop made lignum vitea and maple mallet sitting on a yellow cedar (their wood with history to it) hand cut dovetail hall stool for some friends.... And it's sitting on my Nicholson style bench intended primarily for hand tool working. The stool still needs a bit of dragon motiff carving on the ends before adding a finish. The mallet head was cut using power tools since the darn stuff cuts much like aluminium. The maple was roughed out to shape on a bandsaw but then the rest was all done with hand tools. Brad nailed and glued drawers in screwed together carcases of the wood area in the background. Heck, I even laid the laminate floor come to think of it!

        Click image for larger version

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        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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        • #5
          When mr Abraham first aired his shows years back one of the guys in work commented that his workshop was in Area 51 and it was a beautiful forest before he cut down all the trees and processesed them into book shelves, and that the series would end when there weren’t any trees left, got a laugh at least
          mark

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          • #6
            I think Rex is good. I've watched him a lot. His approach is to do more with less $$$. While his ways don't always match my ways, I don't recall him ever being foolish.

            I believe his day job is as a contractor of some sort.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by boslab View Post
              When mr Abraham first aired his shows years back one of the guys in work commented that his workshop was in Area 51 and it was a beautiful forest before he cut down all the trees and processesed them into book shelves, and that the series would end when there weren’t any trees left, got a laugh at least
              mark
              Got a laugh from me too reading this

              I grew up in my father's shops and at various times made my money for hobbies by being a child laborer. For a few years we made plywood boxes that were used by a local outfit which made guitar amplifiers. Hundreds... no... THOUSANDS of them over about 5 years. I think the name of that outfit was Thorcraft or similar. Later the outfit folded and the head engineer continued making guitar amps under the Grant name. But what I was taught was that wood working involved THICK CLOUDS of sanding dust.... And I hated it... So when I got lured in by a new desire and learned about planes that make big fluffy ribbons and saws that cut fine chips instead of dust that floated around the air I fell in love with the new hobby. Still in love with wood working some 40 years on.

              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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              • #8
                I must admit woodwork is getting under my skin, literally by the splinters I keep pulling out, I found that companies like Stanley did what starret did, had a great range of good quality tools to little by little throw their own heritage in the dumpster, I mean it comes to somthing when the only way you can get tools from the old catalogues is to buy Chinese knock offs of them, (thinking planes and such), what is it, you can’t buy a quality bench plane anymore and have to resort to flea markets and repair the worn bits, I don’t mind but I’m getting to think civilisation is moving backwards, **** there’s only one handsaw maker left over here
                PAX I think, I bought a Bailey block plane a month back, Chinese and crap, it took a day to get it remotely like my old one, sloppy blade adjuster won key mouth, I can see why folk are taking to make their own, I need a hand router plane, I think I’ll have to make one
                mark

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                • #9
                  There are not so many people who really know how to use a common plane, and the bean-counters do not listen to them.

                  I saw the RK vid on "tuning up" the Stanley 404.... I thought "404" was a good number to use for it. As soon as I saw how they set it up to move and adjust the blade (iron) I was just amazed at how they could manage to get all the adjustments to interact THAT much. Stupidest design I can recall for a plane, when the old system does not interact, and works fine.

                  Only a good idea if you want to nominally "allow" the adjustments at the cheapest possible price short of just using a wedge.
                  CNC machines only go through the motions

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                  • #10
                    He generally knows what he is talking about. His talking, though, is one of my criticisms of his videos. Many of them are almost all just a head shot of him, and not enough of the tool or process he is describing. I’d prefer to see less of him.

                    In his video on low angle jack planes, he doesn’t mention the Lie Nielsen low angle planes. They are very close copies of the original Stanley models and are the ones that really started the trend. As such, and given their extremely high quality, they should have been included. I don’t recall him making any mention of the quality of the blades. When he talked about chisels, I don’t recall any discussion of steel quality either. This is a big omission, as there are some real differences.

                    He did a video about London pattern chisel handles. A London pattern chisel handle, in boxwood, is just about the most beautiful handle there is, and was priced at a significant premium. His copies are poor imitations.

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                    • #11
                      I have no problem with the "talking head"..... Interminable shots of a tool doing its work are not very helpful, they are mostly just "filler". When there is something to be shown, it IS shown, and shown pretty clearly, IMO.

                      As for the steel, etc............................The steel in the cutting portions of a LOT of woodworking tools is pretty poor.

                      Maybe I should not say poor, but barely at a blue/purple temper........pretty easily sharpened with a file, anyway. Most spade bits, most auger bits, some plane irons, etc. Not too many chisels, though. Most plane irons are harder, although not always hard enough that a file skates.

                      But they work. And if they are dull, with the softer ones, you can fix that right on the job, which is handy.

                      To some degree, it seems to me that fussing about the exact steel type, or similar details, is a bit like arguing about the hottest hot sauce quoting Scoville numbers, or even arguing about which comic book superhero would win a fight. Plus, what was true last year, may not be true now, depending on what the beancounters allowed.

                      The tool either works, or it does not. It dulls quickly, or it does not. It is tiring to use, or it is not, or maybe it is even a joy to use. That level of info seems to be covered well. The exact "recipe" that produces the desirable result is less important, and it does not bother me that he does not cover that in depth..

                      CNC machines only go through the motions

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                      • #12
                        When it comes to hand tools I think you're right. We've gone backwards for sure. And the few places still making good hand tools charge plenty for them because it has become a fairly low volume hobbyist niche market.

                        Mark, I believe that there are actually more saw makers now. When I decided to fill in my " saw gap " about 4 years ago I found a few top end small production options with rather high price tags. It's been a while so I don't recall the brand names. But to get a set of four saws in small dovetail and medium tenon sizes for both rip and crosscut in any of those top end brands was going to use up most of $1K. In the end I opted for the "bottom end boutique" option and bought four of the Veritas saws. Still not cheap and I would have preferred the more classic brass or even steel spines. But good reviews and reasonable price swayed me.... And I have to say that they do work really well.

                        As for Rex's approach towards his videos I guess it's a style which we like or don't like. I do admit that I also don't agree with his approach all the time. But much of his goal is to appeal to the low key weekend warrior that doesn't have the room for a lot of power tools or perhaps doesn't want or cannot produce the noise and dust that goes with power tool based wood working. And this comes through in his "wood working for humans" somewhat tongue in cheek title for this theme series.
                        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                          I have no problem with the "talking head"..... Interminable shots of a tool doing its work are not very helpful, they are mostly just "filler". When there is something to be shown, it IS shown, and shown pretty clearly, IMO.

                          As for the steel, etc............................The steel in the cutting portions of a LOT of woodworking tools is pretty poor.

                          Maybe I should not say poor, but barely at a blue/purple temper........pretty easily sharpened with a file, anyway. Most spade bits, most auger bits, some plane irons, etc. Not too many chisels, though. Most plane irons are harder, although not always hard enough that a file skates.

                          But they work. And if they are dull, with the softer ones, you can fix that right on the job, which is handy.

                          To some degree, it seems to me that fussing about the exact steel type, or similar details, is a bit like arguing about the hottest hot sauce quoting Scoville numbers, or even arguing about which comic book superhero would win a fight. Plus, what was true last year, may not be true now, depending on what the beancounters allowed.

                          The tool either works, or it does not. It dulls quickly, or it does not. It is tiring to use, or it is not, or maybe it is even a joy to use. That level of info seems to be covered well. The exact "recipe" that produces the desirable result is less important, and it does not bother me that he does not cover that in depth..
                          Honestly, Jerry, do you really believe what you just wrote? Do you really prefer soft steel for your chisels and plane irons because you can sharpen them with a file?

                          Many woodworkers prefer the Japanese chisels and plane irons. The steel in them is so hard that it must be laminated to a softer steel - or even iron - back. If it is abused it will not curl over like a soft steel, but it will chip. But used properly, it will hold up extremely well. And that is what one needs to do fine woodwork.

                          Some of the older Stanley and other chisels and plane irons were made with laminated construction. Today, except for the Japanese stuff, you won’t find those. But you will find blades that hold up very well - check out the Hock blades, for instance. Lie Nielsen, I believe, used to offer Hock blades in their planes. Today they use their own, but they are good.

                          Many years ago, those chisels that were not laminated were nevertheless made from hard steel that would hold an edge. Some still are. But others have gone to softer steels, so that a user who tries to pry open a paint can with one won’t snap it and then sue for his injury.

                          I have been turning wood for over 40 years. When I started, the only tools you could buy were plain high carbon steel. I still use many of them, and those are fine. But there are some much more advanced steels available today, and if I need a gouge for hollowing a bowl in an abrasive wood such as teak, you can guess which one I’ll reach for.

                          Maybe I’m being too critical, in which case I apologize. If what you want is a blade for a block plane that you will carry in your pocket and use to break edges on softwood lumber, a carbon steel blade that you can file the nail nicks out of in the field may be just what you need. For fine woodworking, though, it’s not.

                          Rex’s “talking head” doesn’t particularly appeal to me. I can get the words from a book - to me the advantage of a video is in the images. But that’s just me, to each his own.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JohnMartin View Post

                            Honestly, Jerry, do you really believe what you just wrote? Do you really prefer soft steel for your chisels and plane irons because you can sharpen them with a file?

                            ...........
                            Well if you noticed, I called out plane irons and chisels as rarely being softer. And I did not comment on any "benefits" for them being softer. Both of those I would want harder, simply because they will stay sharper longer, and because a softer steel requires a blunter edge (cutting angle) or it will be bunged up easily.

                            For a spade bit, yes I DO prefer the lower temper.

                            1) It drills just fine in a softer temper, it's just wood, not lignum vitae.

                            2) it won't chip out if it hits a buried nail or an embedded bullet in the wood.

                            3) If it DOES hit such a thing, it can be resharpened quickly.

                            We can argue about the auger bit, but since I generally only use those with a bit brace, the issue comes up less often. The snail wants to be harder, but still tough.
                            CNC machines only go through the motions

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                            • #15
                              I did notice what you wrote. I could not tell exactly what you meant to say, of course.

                              What you said was

                              “As for the steel, etc............................The steel in the cutting portions of a LOT of woodworking tools is pretty poor.

                              Maybe I should not say poor, but barely at a blue/purple temper........pretty easily sharpened with a file, anyway. Most spade bits, most auger bits, some plane irons, etc. Not too many chisels, though. Most plane irons are harder, although not always hard enough that a file skates.

                              But they work. And if they are dull, with the softer ones, you can fix that right on the job, which is handy.”

                              I agree with your first two paragraphs, what I took issue with was the third. If there are chisels (not too many) or plane irons (not most) that are soft enough to be sharpened with a file, they simply do not work. They may cut softwoods for a short time, but are next to useless. They are in no way handy.

                              I objected to Rex’s omission of any discussion of the blades in the various low angle planes. Veritas offer blades of different steels and of different configurations for these planes (so do Lie Nielsen) and it is these blades that give these lanes much of their versatility. It is not “fussing” over minor differences in the steel, unless you feel that a metalworker choosing a cobalt or coated drill over a plain HSS bit is also being fussy. He should have mentioned the differences, but he didn’t. That, to me, is a major flaw in his video.

                              I also watched his video comparing old versus newer Stanley bench planes. No argument with most of what he said. But when he claimed that the larger adjusting thumb wheels on the newer planes were much better because their greater inertia allowed them to spin longer when you flick them with your finger, I had to laugh.

                              Watch Rex all you want. Most of what he says is on target. Sometimes, he misses by a mile.

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