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This week on the Woodworker Sessions, I chat to Anton de Kock. I have known Anton for about three years and helped him out a while back in acquiring his table saw and workbench, as well as being a sounding board for many of his woodworking purchases, both new and used. Anton is a perfectionist in everything he does and his woodwork is no exception. Although he is relatively new to the craft, his thought processes and methodology are exemplary! Having recently became a very proud dad, I am sure there are many woodworking projects on his drawing board. Watch this space...
Tobias: How, why and when did you become interested in woodworking?
Anton: Interesting question, I must have been 7 or 8 years old and wanted to build a speaker enclosure out of wood.
Tobias: What aspects of your craft do you find most enjoyable and least enjoyable?
Anton: The most enjoyable aspect is definitely when a project is really coming together coupled with the first stages of the finishing process. My least enjoyable is the inevitable waiting between coats, which in many cases ends up being overnight or longer... nobody likes watching paint (or anything else) dry!
Tobias: What are your favourite hand tools?
Anton: I am new to the hand tool arena, and have yet to really delve properly into this side of woodworking, although I have in the past year or so collected some of the nicest tools I could get my hands on.
These include a large range of exceptional condition vintage Marples chisels of various formats, a number of Lie-Nielsen and Veritas Tools hand planes & some vintage Stanley hand planes. I have also been able to invest carefully in various Woodpeckers tools & Incra marking and measuring tools as well, so my tool compliment is growing nicely.
Tobias: What are your favourite power tools and stationary machines?
Anton: My favourite power tool would have to be my Festool TS55 plunge tracksaw, It is truly a tool of absolute precision and capable of so much! The very first project on which I used my TS55 were stair stringers running from my new workshop up to my office and I was astounded by the precision that I was able to achieve with the machine, and in combination with the Festool vacuum, it makes a truly remarkable combo.
In fact, it was the purchase of these two Festools that started my journey of acquiring the absolute best tools I could buy, because I learnt the value of buying once and buying right there and then!
I also adore my Festool Rotex 90. Many would be familiar with the Rotex 150, as this is the more common machine and typically used for bigger projects. When it comes to smaller projects, drawer faces, shelves, more refined work, the Festool Rotex 90 is an amazing tool. The sanding ability that is achieved versus the size of the machine is what makes it so unique and it has near dustless sanding is with the Festool vacuum attached.
Next up would be the first real table saw that I have owned, namely a Martlet TSC-10 Contractors Saw. I was fortunate to buy it in amazing used condition with a wonderful set of Forrest Woodworker blades that in my inexperienced opinion are utterly incredible. I do want to try some Freud blades soon to see how they compare to the Forrest blades. I do have some modifications planned for the table saw: I have a Shark Guard blade guard with vacuum attachment which will be fitted and I will also be building a custom cabinet with some handy storage drawers (for table saw accessories) which will be mounted with the table saw on top.
The next step is going to be very exciting! I am fitting Incra's phenomenal TS-LS fence system to the table, which will truly revolutionise the entire saw.
Last but not least is my Festool OF1400 router with its Festool track attachment. I simply dial it in, attach it to the track, place the track on workpiece and route away. I love the logic and precision of Festool systems and tools.
Tobias: What machines, power tools or hand tools could you not do without?
Anton: An honourable mention has to go to my trusty Hitachi 18v cordless drill. This machine has for the last 5+ years taken a beating in all sorts of environments. It was the very first brushless cordless drill available on the South African market and has not left me wanting drill wise, besides deep drilling into the most demanding concrete. This drill has replaced all of the drills I have owned. The Festool TS55 is definitely a must have, I cannot be without it, as well as the track and associated accessories.
Tobias: Do you use a dedicated space for your craft, what floor area do you have and how much time do you manage to spend on woodworking per week?
Anton: Yes, I have a dedicated workshop that is an out-building extension of our house. This is great from a noise point of view. It is 4.3m wide x 9.3m in length and leads to an upstairs "loft" area which is my office + hifi room. The workshop design is still busy unfolding. It is not strictly a woodwork-only workshop, as the space will get used for electronics, some necessary auto mechanical and some IT/computer related work as well. One of the big factors is dust, so dust management and extraction is critically important for me in the workshop.
Tobias: What was the first piece you ever made, what is your favourite piece and what is the next piece you wish to build?
Anton: I have not started making "furniture" yet as such, but have rather used woodworking as I have needed it. When we renovated our house, I removed the old kitchen cupboards, cut them to size and re-used them in the workshop. I had the need for many drawers, I quite like the "Snapon Red" drawers as used in many automotive workshops,but I just do not like the associated price tags! I then set out to make an 18 drawer unit with adjoining cupboards out of cheap shutter ply and simply painted it red.
Tobias: What are your favourite timbers to work with and what timbers do you avoid?
Anton: Unfortunately, most of my woodworking to date being speaker enclosures etc, have been with man-made Supawood/mdf, plywood and chipboard.
Im very interested to start digging into the astounding array of woods that we have available in South Africa and have already amassed a number of books on the subject. As the workshop nears completion, I will embark of the first of hopefully many trips to Rare Woods in Epping.
Tobias: What is your standard finishing process for your pieces?
Anton: My current finishing process borrows a lot from some of my background experience in automotive spraypainting and also automotive sound enclosures made out of fibreglass/wood. Here we typically use body filler, fibreglass and wood, and eventually sand down to a glass like finish before spray painting or covering with vinyl. I have found that generally if you take the same principles to wood, and eventually finish off with a product like Woodoc 10, you get a wonderful finish. The non convoluted version would be that I start rough and work to a super smooth finish, using many different grits of sandpapers, and then apply my finish.
Anton: In the bigger scheme of things, I am very new to fine woodwork, so would like to learn correctly and master the following:
1) Hand Tools - Creating entirely by hand to a fine finish.
2) Maintaining / Sharpening my tools properly.
4) Competent and efficient hand tool joinery methods.
5) Metalwork to enable me to complement my woodwork