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Woodworking Tips and Tricks…Papermaking and Misc.

04/18/2018

This is a departure from the usual tips and tricks I post here.  I did an unusual job for a Korean artist in Sacramento.  She had been trained in how to make traditional Korean Hanji paper and didn’t have the necessary equipment to do her craft.  She contacted me because I had sold her some bookbinding equipment.  Since I do custom work, I thought this would be a cool project to do and help her out.

She wrote up a post about it and here are the links:

Post 1.

Post 2.

And here are more pictures of the process.

Helping her was very satisfying and it’s nice to be a part of keeping the centuries old crafts alive.

Here is how it’s made in Korea.  To say this is tedious is to incredibly understate the process.   I read somewhere they process fibers for 9 months and make paper 3 months.

And here is the same process in China, except on steroids!  Makes paper 11 x 36 FEET…by hand…well, lot so hands!.

Here’s more on what happens after the paper is couched (pronounced cooched, not chowched). This is just amazing!

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I mentioned selling bookbinding equipment: my bookbinding equipment is available here.

I haven’t said much here about this but it’s now my main business. Since the housing market crash in 2008, cabinet shops have gone out of business one after another, especially the ones that depended on kitchens for their main business.  I have always had a diversified business and have only done 5 kitchens in 35 years.  God knew the mess this country would be in and put it into my mind (somehow) to start selling bookbinding equipment on Ebay as a side thing in 2001.   2008 hit and by that time I had a name of sorts among the binding community and sales continued to climb.  My nephew put together a website for me and sales really took off.

It’s a very small niche market but there is no one else that sells the range of products  I sell, nor at the prices I sell them for.   I started with 1 product and now offer 23 products including 2 papermaking presses, a full range of bookbinding equipment and 2 letterpress printing presses, which uses the old lead type.  So I cover it from pulp to printing. I have some inventions as part of the lineup.  A lot of the equipment has come from ideas of artists looking for something special.  Other pieces are just updates of what’s been generally available for years.

On the website there are videos that show the equipment, with some of them actually showing them in use (look up the printing presses and plough).  I have had some very interesting custom projects (like the above papermaking equipment above) and have met some really nice artisans in the process.  I have equipment in many universities, colleges and several pieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as shipping to many countries overseas.   I sold a complete Jack Letterpress setup to a grammar school in Washington.  The PTA bought it for the school so the kids could see what printing was like when Ben Franklin was alive.  They lay out sayings of his with wood-block type and print them out.

Selling this bookbinding equipment has become my main business now, as the cabinet work just isn’t there to supply the income needed.  I do not miss building cabinets, mainly because of the heavy lifting involved.  A 3/4″ thick sheet of melamine weighs 90 pounds.   I’m done with that kind of lifting.   Some jobs required 10-12 sheets, lifted out of my van, lifted into my shop, lifted onto my table saw, built into cabinets I had to lift myself.  No thanks.  Guess I’m getting old and my body doesn’t repair itself like it used to.

I still do a lot of furniture repair.  I have had a bunch of chairs in my shop lately, one right after the other.  Most with broken spindles right at the tenon, which I repair with a fixture I made for my wood lathe, to drill the spindles exactly in the center for new round tenons.  I have a metal lathe at home and use that to turn custom round tenons of oddball sizes.   I got a job with a museum in Lodi to repair all the furniture that needs it.  It’s a Victorian house that still has most of the original furnishings from when the owner lived there.

One would think that because the furniture is “vintage” or “antique” that is would be quality and was built by some old world craftsman.  Well, in my repair work, it’s interesting that most of the problems are from bad design, not from wear and tear.  I guess the really expensive furniture was sturdy and is probably expensive for a reason, and I won’t see it because it was built right.  But the industrial revolution allowed the manufacturers to build a lot of junk in a hurry, kind of like today.   A lot of it has to do with the original builders using green material, something anyone with half a woodworking brain would know that wet wood shrinks when it dries, it then cracks and then stuff falls apart.  So just because it’s old and has a high price tag does not mean it’s quality.  It just means it’s expensive and someday I will be repairing it.

As an aside, one of the chairs I just repaired had 6 carved slats in the back.  When I glued it all together, I was cleaning off all the mess of glue and realized I got one of the slats in upside down…well the glue was drying (yellow glue sets fast!) and I had to get it apart in a hurry.  Finally got it a part and had to reglue all the joints and then get it back together again before the water in the glue swelled the holes and tenons to the point it would go back together.  I re-glued everything and finally, with much clamping and hammering with a rubber mallet, got it all back the way it should be. Then I had to hurry and clean off all the glue that had flowed over everything.  To say the least, that was an adrenaline rush!  What a mess!  But it’s better than new; the builder didn’t use glue on the slat tenons, only nail gun brads.  See what I mean by junk-in-a-hurry?  I’ve seen that a lot.

Hope this was interesting to you!

 

 

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