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Grind

LeUerS (continued)

but I'll offer two examples drawn from an examination of previous issues.

First, compare Roger Holmes' article "Starting Out" in FWW #49 with Ian Kirby's "Preparation of Stock" in FWFW#13. Both articles concern fundamental woodworking skills. Compare the graphics: Kirby's provide useful information and Holmes' provide pretty pictures. Moreover, Holmes' graphics take up more space in the total article, leaving less for textual content. Second, there seems to be less material on the philosophy of craftsmanship, Toshio Odate being a refreshing exception. In 1978 (FWFW#13), by contrast, there were articles by Tage Frid and Stephen Hogbin that concerned why we are woodworkers.

I am concerned that Fine Woodworking simply is not worth what it once was. I think the emphasis on color has something to do with this. You're becoming a pretty picture magazine, with all the superficiality that entails. The items you select for photos will be objects in which color is the predominant characteristic. Therefore, painted boxes are inevitable, as are gaudy easy chairs (FWW #49) and vanities made of a phony wood product (FWFW#48).

Color can be used to provide useful information, and can be used selectively to provide an interesting format. I'm afraid, though, that FWW is trying to change its market image. To what end? I am a charter subscriber and I'm not canceling yet. But I want to see real quality maintained and not sacrificed to a glossy image. —David Hupp, Portland, Ore.

After years of using wood putty with the old "fill it, dry it, sand it and refill it" process, I have found something that can get the job done in one pass. It is a polyester compound used with a catalyst and it stains out just like wood—a great product called Poxywood. I got it through a local paint store, but it can also be ordered direct from Box 4241, Martinsville, Va. 24115.

I enjoyed reading Stewart T. Coffin's article "Wooden Puzzles" in issue #49. In that article he mentions a man up in Toronto who's bought about a thousand rhombic-dodecahedral blocks. ''I'm not sure why," Coffin quips.

Some five years ago I purchased some R-D blocks from Coffin, albeit only 390 of them-one-third of that amount pre-glued by Coffin into all possible ways of joining less than five R-Ds together. It was my intention to use the remaining 260 blocks in an effort to continue that classification scheme and determine how many poly R-Ds of size five exist. Now I reside in a Toronto suburb, which either makes this municipality a hotbed of R-D research activity or means that the man Coffin mentioned and I are one and the same. In which case, your readers may be interested in finding out the reason for my purchase.

By the strangest of coincidences, recently (before I had seen that issue of Fine Woodworking) I mailed Coffin a letter in which I tried to acquaint him with the untitled book by Kit Williams (whose article "Marquetry Mystery" also appeared in the same issue). In that letter I confided that I was going to use some of his R-D blocks to fashion my creation of what I think is the title of that book.

—Hans Havermann, Weston, Ont.

I felt that Tom Howell's article "Vintage Machines" in the November/December issue was very good. I take exception, however, to his statement that cast iron is difficult to repair. I would hate to see a good machine at a reasonable or better price rejected on the basis of a crack. The crack may be in a non-critical area of the casting and generated from careless handling or a casting flaw that has finally stress-relieved it self. Both of these conditions are easily repairable.

I agree with Howell that grey iron will continue to crack; it is a very notch-sensitive material. Any crack is a stress riser where vibration and fatigue can potentially attack, and will worsen with time. There are, however, many new low-temperature welding techniques that can inexpensively and easily repair a good casting. Many factories have been repairing casting cracks or breaks for years with even traditional brazing techniques and have been very successful.

If you are interested in a machine that is cracked or broken, try to find someone who has experience with welding grey iron. If the crack is repairable, you end up with leverage on the price. My experience in industry is that very few cracks or breaks are unrepairable and often the repair is stronger than the originally cast piece. -D.E. Riley, Warren, Pa.

I was surprised and disappointed to see your omission of Parks Woodworking Machine Co. from your list of vintage manufacturers (FWW #4 9, p. 50). Parks has been producing workshop-sized equipment continuously for nearly 100 years.

Parks machines were distributed both under their own name and in great numbers by Sears Roebuck. Because of our continuity of production, we are able to supply production parts for many of our older machines as well as our Craftsman-brand machines. —Mary L. Reardon, Parks Woodworking

Machine Co., Cincinnati, Ohio

If a man is smart enough, he knows a better way. Of the many ways of stabilizing a candle base or a light turning, few woodworkers know that a common plumbers' material lead wool used for cast-iron pipe joints-tamped into a hole will anchor tons and is available at any plumbing supply store. Also, it has a thousand other uses. —Ford Green, San Antonio, Tex.

I was surprised by Gregory Landrey's article in the November/December issue on restoring cracked finishes on antique furniture. Basically, he recommends cleaning, followed by sanding down and waxing the old spirit varnish. He also states that he has rarely seen an old finish reamalgamated successfully.

Amalgamation is the name of the game, however, among professional restorers who use French-polishing techniques. Indeed, near miracles can be worked on surfaces worse than Landrey's sample piece using the traditional ingredients of shellac, alcohol, oil and pumice. The process can be done without changing the color and without disturbing the patina, and for an experienced polisher, it gives the maximum flexibility and control in handling all the elements of a facelift that preserves "the whispered history of days gone by."

Re Harold Lewis' question about a shaper that can use router bits (^W #49, p. 18). He can take a spindle from the shaper and a collet and nut from a router to a machinist and have a new spindle turned with a recess and threads for the collet and nut. Make the new shaper spindle as short as possible so the router bit will be approximately the same height off the shaper table as a shaper bit would be. The main problem with this arrangement is speed. The shaper turns a cutter at 9,000 rpm for a cutting speed of 3,562 fpm, while it turns a XX-in. router bit with a %-in. cutter at 2,061 fpm. The slower speed will cause a washboard effect on the workpiece. One solution is to mount a router on the back side of your shaper so you can use either the shaper or the router. This arrangement allows you to perform all of the shaping/routing in one location and use one power feed to service two machines. If you can't afford a spare router, buy an extra router base to mount permanently on the shaper table. —Thomas J Wilder, Chico, Calif.

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