Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shop Jazz Upgrade!

One of the great joys of a human-powered shop is being able to listen to music while working. For years, I listened to my jazz CDs on a cheesy little player sitting on the shelf over my desk. But no longer! Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of Jazz!

Umm, sorry, I got a little excited there...

Anyway, I dug up the stereo system that I first bought way back in college. It's old, but man does it still sound good (of course, almost anything would sound better than the little cheese box). The only problem was that the speakers are the old-school kind - big, heavy, tower-types. I got by for a while with them just sitting on the shop floor - but continually having to move them out of the way became tiresome. Time to build some shelves.

The shelves are pretty no nonsense. The only part that required more than sawing was the face edging. This got a rather large rabbet to support and conceal the plywood shelf, and a reverse ogee moulded edge to give it an attractive shadow line. You can just make out the rabbet hiding behind the dog in the shot below.

For the moulding, I used an E. Preston and Sons (England) sash plane. At one time this would have been used to make window parts, but since I don't have any plans to make my own windows (at least not yet...) it now lives a new life of cutting moldings on board edges instead of sash bars. This plane is one of a matched pair, numbered 1 and 2 that the original owner would have used together for greater efficiency. One of the pair would have its iron set coarse for quick but rough stock removal, while the other would be set fine for final smoothing. Since I don't spend my days making hundreds of the same parts, I don't really need this system, and I just use the fine one most of the time.

Speaking of previous owners, this plane has had at least two. One "C. Cooper" and one "James Hodges". I always wonder about these folks, their work, their shops and their lives in general. I wish I could trace the line back to them and see what this plane had a hand in making. Just one more reason I love old tools...

Here's a shot of the final installation:

Now the jazz (and occasional blues) FILLS the shop! Here's what's on the "now playing" shelf:

Nat Adderley - Worksong
Coleman Hawkins - Body and Soul
Doc Cheatham - The Eighty Seven Years of Doc Cheatham
Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie - Roy & Diz
Johnny Hodges - Triple Play (Hmm..Hodges...)
Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris
Albert Collins - Ice Pickin'
Clifford Brown & Max Roach - Study in Brown
Red Garland, Ron Carter & Philly Joe Jones - Crossings


  1. I love the profile on that plane. It was obviously well cared for by its previous owners.

  2. Kari -

    Isn't it interesting how some old tools tell stories of respectful care, others of honest, hard work, and others of outright misuse and abuse. I think it just shows how varied user's relationships to their tools can be. For some, they were clearly just a disposable resource, an end to a means. The two previous owners (at least two) took very good care of this plane, and I appreciate it. And somehow I can’t help but thing that the plane does too.


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