Process of a Master Woodworker: In the Shop with Alf Sharp Part 2



I'm a process-oriented person I'm not a product oriented person I mean the product is important in the end but what I love about this work is the process of getting it together and that process involves making jigs and sharpening your tools and all of the all of the activities that go into the process along the way I started learning everything on machine tools so just learning to use a table saw and a jointer you know there's a lot of there's a lot of hand skill goes into properly using a jointer you don't just push a board across a jointer you apply a lot of English to the board to make it work properly and that took a while that took a while to master of course it helps to have a jointer that's perfectly set up but even then you can you can put a crown or a cup in a board by how you hold your hands as you push the board across the jointer the table saw does tend to be the center of the modern shop I'd say that I do 50% of my mortise or my Tenon's on a table saw in 50% of my tenon with a handsaw it just depends on how many I'm doing and the nature of the work but I will say this regarding saws I've said for years that if they wrote a law that said you could only have one kind of saw in your shop I would have a good bandsaw because a good bandsaw properly set up can do all the joinery that a table saw can do Plus cut curves you might notice I've got two banned cells I've got this one here four with a quarter-inch blade in it for all kinds of finer work and I've got the one in back with an inch blade in it for the resawing and heavy-duty work and and both of them are justified even in a small shop like this I still rely on machines to make jobs go faster my ethic is that whenever a machine doesn't compromise the design the ultimate design or the ultimate finish that you want I'll use a machine tool it's just faster it's just it just is I'm not a purist about any of these things whatever whatever works my first piece of advice to someone a novice would be to take the time to learn the hand tools and then then you know when you can rely on a machine tool to speed the process up but you don't have to ever compromise your design according to what only a machine tool can accomplish there are so many situations where in the end the only the only real solution to a problem is the deft use of a hand tool my favorite thing to do is to use a spokeshave to shave a piece of wood with a spokeshave that's that's one of the most satisfying it's it's physically satisfying it's it's sensual you get a physical you get physical pleasure out of it sharpening it I that's that's my favorite hand tool thing to do and then of course working on a lathe is is my favorite machine tool thing to do as you can see from looking around now I've got a lot of Powermatic tools that's partly because I've had a relationship with paramedic over the over the past 7 or 10 years I guess this lathe is better than any lathe I've ever had before I've had a couple of old lathes but this one is far superior it's almost a cliche at this point I let the wood tell me what it wants to be because I'll put something in the lathe and I may have a preconceived notion of what I what I'm going to turn out of it and frequently I accomplished what I set out to do but just as frequently the wood will take on a shape I mean it's I'm not attributing some kind of mystical life to a piece of dead wood but but just in in cutting the wood and taking note of the features in the wood the wood will define a form that it wants to look that it looks best in that is not what you initially had in mind I was a while to come to carving I remember the first the first carving I ever did I was I was selling chairs fairly simple Queen and chairs to a a couple of old German brothers up in Nashville that that had a showroom for traditional furniture and one day they said can you do any carving and I said well I don't know let's give it a try they gave me a foot blank for a ball and cloth foot and and said enemy and an example to copy and said he come back with this see what you can do and so I bought some carving tools I bought a set of carving tools and started working on it and I took it back to the one of the old German brothers and he looked at and he said hmm not enough tools that's so that that was that was my introduction to to old-world mentorship if you can it all afford it take as many of the classes that are available today that you can take because a week's worth of instruction with a master can be worth up to a year's worth of trial and error there's dozens and dozens of schools of woodworking and lots of opportunities to learn making something that you designed yourself is a thrilling and very daunting process I mean when you're reproducing something that's acknowledged to be excellent you don't have to worry about whether your customer is ultimately gonna like what you've done but when you're making an original design piece you've got to you've got to have the confidence that that your vision is ultimately going to be appreciated and that's that's much more daunting to me it's easy to make a piece that's not everything it ought to be and sometimes you only know when you're finished and you say to yourself I should have done this and that and it took me a while to learn not to point that out to my customers hey I would they would say how pleased they were and I'd say yeah but you know if if I'd only done this and that and they go oh yeah the process of making an original design piece of furniture is often very very involved and you have to dream up new ways of doing things which is fantastic to come up with a solution to a problem it's great to go to bed wondering how in the world you're going to do what you what you've envisioned and waking up in the morning and having solved the problem in your sleep makes you want to get out to the shop right away

34 Comments

  • niklar55

    April 15, 2019

    I know exactly how he feels.

    Reply
  • dana smith

    April 15, 2019

    Absolutely awesome would like to see more of these!!

    Reply
  • Christian Dudley

    April 15, 2019

    This series has been awesome. I recently jumped into the world of woodworking as my job and it is a dream of mine to find some "old world mentors" as he put it to teach me carving and hand tools. I do everything on machinery and it doesn't feel nearly as good as the rare times I get to break out a chisel.

    Reply
  • Russell Palmer

    April 15, 2019

    If anyone here is familiar with the little tiny "Mini Lathe", also called a "Bead Polisher", do you know of it having a Chuck that will work with it? It has a drill like chuck but nothing to grip the item one is using to turn on.

    Reply
  • Russell Palmer

    April 15, 2019

    I personally have a "Pac Rat" personality. I have a storage unit which continues to get more into it than it has room for. As for Alf, are you open for a Small Motor Boat, which can use minor repairs? It also has a trailer.

    Reply
  • Curtis Grindahl

    April 15, 2019

    Wonderful… EXCEPT for the music which is hardly necessary. What this fellow is saying is worth listening too but the music is superfluous to say the least.

    Reply
  • Cyclonic Johnson

    April 15, 2019

    I love love hearing the older experienced folks speaking about this

    Reply
  • WitchDoctor02

    April 15, 2019

    Proud to be the official 1,000th 'like' on this awesome video. Thanks so much for this series and to Alf for sharing his experience and wisdom with us. I see myself revisiting this interview again in the future.

    Reply
  • Never Gonnatell

    April 15, 2019

    You're process oriented, but not a purest about tools? Seems odd. My favorite thing to do is work in relative peace and quiet with hand tools. The screech of power tools drives me nuts. I even prefer a manual lathe so it's nice and quiet.

    Reply
  • AZCobraman

    April 15, 2019

    Does Powermatic make a dust collector? ;o)

    Great vid!

    Reply
  • rob

    April 15, 2019

    beautiful

    Reply
  • silentscribes

    April 15, 2019

    Inspiring

    Reply
  • Gerry Fuentes

    April 15, 2019

    This is rich. Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
  • Dimensionswoodworks

    April 15, 2019

    Good job Brad! These magnificent craftsman exist all around us, and from time to time we are lucky enough to find and interact with them to soak up some of their knowledge.

    Reply
  • Nathan Amstutz

    April 15, 2019

    Irony is defined as hearing the same song the Abom79 channel uses for his opening and closing while Mr. sharp is using the lathe (albeit for wood). Great video by a master at his craft.

    Reply
  • Ben Lin

    April 15, 2019

    Great video! What does he mean when he said "you need to applying a lot of ENGLISH to the board to make it work"? What does the term "english" mean? It's toward the beginning at about the 60 second mark.

    Reply
  • Miguel Salgado

    April 15, 2019

    I can relate to this master in so many ways. The whole moral of the story is, enjoy what you do so it’s no longer considered a job, but a career or hobby!

    Reply
  • siberwolf33

    April 15, 2019

    What a fantastic sould this man has. In no uncertain terms, I love this man.

    Reply
  • 1963JamesT

    April 15, 2019

    Good stuff.
    I have solved problems in my sleep, fall asleep searching for a solution, and wake up with it.
    Nice to know it happens to other people too.

    Reply
  • sureshot311

    April 15, 2019

    This is literally one of the best videos I've ever watched. I feel like I could watch him talk about his love and the craft for days.

    Reply
  • April Mae

    April 15, 2019

    I've always had difficulty making more than one piece, because I worked in so many metal/wood shops where I was given the robot job of repeating so many same tasks over & over again, UGH.

    Reply
  • Charles Catt

    April 15, 2019

    Nothing better than solving a complex problem in your sleep.
    I’m a programmer and I often find myself with a beautiful solution after a good sleep.
    Sometimes in the morning I get annoyed at my asleep self for not solving all of my problems, though.

    Reply
  • darren guthrie

    April 15, 2019

    I was told the same about the bandsaw so I got one and now I see wat they mean. it's the best machine in the shop!

    Reply
  • David Wells

    April 15, 2019

    Man this was so good. really enjoyed it. I'm an accountant so maybe you can guess the rest !!!

    Reply
  • Joda Kelby

    April 15, 2019

    Mr. Sharp I thank you so much sir for sharing this video it means the world to me.

    Reply
  • robslifting4life

    April 15, 2019

    Would love to spend a day with this guy at the shop. True love for woodworking. I feel everything he says.

    Reply
  • Doorkicker505

    April 15, 2019

    I would like to spend a week with thst guy. I would learn a lot.

    Reply
  • Mo Poppins

    April 15, 2019

    Great job, Brad! I love documentary-style bios…hope to see more of them in the future! Alf was so so candid and insightful. His choice of the bandsaw, if he could only choose one power saw, is a useful tip for woodworkers on a budget.

    Reply
  • dalczl

    April 15, 2019

    Excellent and inspiring.

    Reply
  • BusyDadsWorkshop

    April 15, 2019

    Brad, I finally had a chance to watch this second episode!! What a great project! I hope you are able to do more videos like this in the future!

    Reply
  • Luis M

    April 15, 2019

    Brad, The subscribe link in the description of this video (also part 1 video) is wrong. The link points to "MadRavenWoodworks". Great video series. Would be nice to see more videos like this.

    Reply
  • Santiago Cabrera

    April 15, 2019

    genial

    Reply
  • Andries

    April 15, 2019

    YEAH! Learning from the old men is the best and most fun thing ever. All this knowledge! You did a great job again Brad!!

    Reply
  • thadiusp

    April 15, 2019

    This was such a great series! I loved watching him talk about his passion. You did a great job! Please do more like this!

    Reply

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