Perhaps the most interested toys that Itsik builds, are the cars, motorcycles, and trucks.
Few of them have a moving mechanism, such as a pivoting crane arm. And one particular tow truck has even a ratcheted mechanism that allow you to lock the hook in position and keep the load in mid air!
Than there is the "real" scooter he built for his nephew Ron.....
At the end of the day Itsik offered me a great organic mango that he picked for the tree out side the shop. He made a series of cross cuts, and then push the mango's flesh upward.... it was delicious.......
I visited Itsik's shop for two reasons: to see his creations and help him sharpen some old chisels he bought on the Israeli Craigslist-like website. Itsik does not own any diamond stones Japanese stones or India stones. The little sharpening he used to do was done using sand paper. Consequently, non of his chisels were honed nor did they had flat backs. Yet he manages to build beautiful toys that are creative and inspiring. The toys have great details and are nicely finished. At some point Itsik decided that he would like to learn how to sharpen tools in a professional way, so he asked me to to tutor him and show him some of the techniques I discussed in my Hebrew blog.
The challenges associated with improvising are always exiting. And in this case I had to come up with a plan to teach, build jigs, sharpen and hone tools which were in really bad conditions. Itsik puled a bitten up rusty chisel form the pile of tools he bought, this tool was our guinea pig. We started by finding a flat piece of glass and mounted on it with wet-dry sand paper – to flatten the chisel's back. After this we turned to make and attache a wooden tool-support to the grinder's fixed support (Itsik has a high speed grinder, 3400 rpm) we aimed for a 25 degrees hollow grind. The grinding wheels where in o.k. condition, so we did not have to true or dress them.
After hollow grinding we used the glass and paper technique to flatten an old oil stone he got with the tools he that purchased.
When we finished flattening the stone to reasonable but not great condition, we used it to hone the edge. Then we put some polishing compound on a piece of leather Itsik has, and did the final honing. The chisel where put the test immediately and manged to sheer pine end grain with very little effort.
Itsik makes all king of toys, but he putts a much of his artistic zeal in making planes and helicopters of different sizes. Some of them are made form ply wood, and the plies appears like wind-tunnel streamline air flow pattern. On one of his big planes he installed a sophisticated brake systems, so kids who try to “fly” by coasting down hill, will be able to stop the bird, plus it will make their parents feel better once they know that Yonatan (Jonathan) or Rachel ride on a safer toy. This big "Stearman" lookalike plane has steering wheel which is connected to the from wing. This wing can pivot left or right.
The way Itsik makes wheels will surprise you. He does not have a lathe, so instead he fasten the wheel blank to an electric drill and shape the wheels with a rasp and file. As a person who make smart use of scrap wood, he occasionally will find an old furniture legs, slice them – like you would cut salami sausage.... and then turn them to make the wheel.
What I really like about Itsik Cohen's toys is their shapes, and the clever – and innovative – way he incorporate moving mechanisms in his designs. By the way, the word Cohen/Kohen in Hebrew means priest. So all the Cohens, Kohens, Kahan, Kagan (yes you are right, this is the last name of the newly appointed supreme court judge, Elena Kagan) are in direct patrilineal descent from the biblical Aaron (of the tribe or Levi).
Here are some more examples of Isaac's toys and his shop.
Itsik's shop is actually a small hut, therefor it is not really thermally insulated. It gets chilly in the winter (45 to 55 F) which is not too bad.These temperatures are average for the coldest days in a typical Israeli winter (on the coast of the Mediterranean). However, the summers can be very hot and humid ;this is why he keeps a fan working all the time in July and August.
More to come soon..
Utilizing cut-offs is environmentally and economically wise. I will show you few of his toys in the next blog entries.. I am sure you will like what you’ll see, plus it will give you great ideas for toy designs, which you can make as gifts in advent of the Holidays season.
My first attempt of making a soup this season was successful, and yes you are in the right blog, and yes I will talk about tools.. just bear with me for a second.
I made root vegetable soup, with onions, sweet potato, butternut squash, celery root, garlic and mushrooms. But since I am spending the semester away from home, in Purchase College NY, I do not have all my favorite kitchen tools with me. There is a limited amount of tools in the kitchen of my artist in residence apartment, and I could not find a potato masher nor a veggie peeler among them. I was giving this apartment, which is a really nice place, to allow me to live on campus and be close to the great wood shop they have here; and the woodshop is quite the opposite – It is full with splendid tools. In order to make soups I use the potato masher to crush and mash the vegetables, just before I add the water, and just after they became soft. And as you all know, not having the right tool for the job can be frustrating. I brought with me a good 9 1/2” long chef knife to cut and chop, and also a small 3” knife to stem vegetables and to peel. With the chef knife I chopped the onions and crushed/diced the garlic cloves (I don’t use a garlic crusher). Than I looked for a vegetable peeler. Since I couldn’t find a peeler I had to whittle away the butternut squash hard exterior and the celery root. If you think about it.. a veggie peeler is like a spokeshave, as it allow you to shave the peel, following its curvy surfaces without digging too much into the vegetable flesh. After peeling the veggies, I fried the onions added the garlic, the butternut squash and the sweet potato. I let them cook for 20 or 30 minutes and then I started thinking, how I am going to mash them? Should I use a fork, a regular spoon or perhaps my round maple spoon which I brought with me from Massachusetts? I was kind of confused, as non of these options looked very promising: Using metal tools to crush veggies inside a nonstick pan is bad, as you will probably scratch the nonstick coating, and plus you will have to stick your hand into the pot ... and it is hot there – very hot. But then came this bright idea: I will load the maple spoon with the veggies and use a fork to mash them against the wooden surfaces. Doing it in the pot, half way up from the boiling stew, will save both my skin and DuPont Teflon coating.
And this is exactly what I did and it was so successful that I decided to share it with you. After mashing the vegetables I added water, mushrooms, spices, salt and pepper. I then let the soup cook for 30 minutes and voila ... the soup was ready.
I will share with you my own work, tools, and techniques. I will show how my friends and students build beautiful objects. Sometimes I will talk about wood, forests, sustainability and much more. I am sure it will be interesting