Courtesy of Frank Howarth; YouTube
Courtesy of Frank Howarth; YouTube

Frank Howarth is a skilled woodworker and probably a very good architect, but what he is best at is film-making. Unlike Hollywood folks, he doesn’t produce dramas, comedies, or documentaries (though his films contain elements of all three). He makes films in his shop and is known for stop-motion video featuring woodworking machines.

Howarth recently posted a film of a Powermatic 66 he had disassembled to diagnose a hard-to-operate bevel mechanism. It turned out to be a simple fix; the trunion and pinion gears were gummed up and in need of lubrication. But instead of merely cleaning and lubing the parts, and then putting them back together, Howarth made a stop-motion film that creates the impression the saw reassembled itself.

To fans of Howarth this is nothing unusual, as he has previously produced films of his machines (seemingly without human intervention) making a carver’s mallet from scrap, turning a log into a lawn chair, and gluing up and turning a segmented bowl. What I like most about his woodworking films is how they focus on tools, machines, and the mechanical processes of woodworking. Because he uses stop-motion, it’s clear how many steps are involved and how precise those steps must be.

Yeah, it looks easy when things happen “by themselves”, but everything you see in Howarth’s productions had to be set up by a skilled woodworker/mechanic and filmed by an equally skilled film maker. If you don’t believe this stuff is hard to produce, watch the video that shows how the table saw film was made.