Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Above is an interesting plane that is on the mantel at my grandparent's house, and I've been paying closer and closer attention to it over the last few years as I've been getting deeper into woodworking. This Christmas while we were there, I pulled it apart and took some detail photographs. One interesting detail of the construction that I noticed this time around is the dovetailed piece that forms the front of the mouth. The curved sole leads me to believe that this is probably for the inside of barrels or some other concave surface. The rather small mouth opening indicates that it is for taking fine shavings. Because of the age of the wood, it's difficult to determine what species the plane is made from, but I think the mouth could be oak or ash. The main body almost seems like some sort of soft wood based on the grain. I have some pictures of the interior of the mouth/blade holding area as well as the maker's mark that I might post up later. It's pretty typical, but I still find it interesting.

Below are some holiday spoons for friends and family with a 6" rule. All Paper Birch from the same tree. I used a pattern for the two smaller spoons, based on Barn the spoon's suggestions, made from a piece of flexible plastic. First I axed and then smoothed with my knife a crank into a half stick, traced the pattern, axed to the pattern, and then carved it all out from there. The final step in roughing these is to hollow the bowl. It's very quick work with the green Birch, but it's a bit soft and flexible for these small eating spoons, much better for the larger utensils that can be left thicker.
Tips for Spooners-Barn the Spoon

Below is some quarter sawn Maple from a stump in the backyard. These are about 5-6" wide, and about 4-6/4 thick. Plenty hefty! I very approximately flattened and thicknessed these boards with my new Lee Valley scrub, and couldn't resist finishing one out to see what the grain would look like.

The radial flecks are a little more subtle than something like Oak, but I think it's very pleasant to look at.

It's amazing how stable quartersawn lumber is! I know that's the whole idea, but it's still really cool to me. I took these straight out of the back yard and moved them down to the basement mere feet from the furnace for over a week, and haven't seen a single check or any suggestion of twist or cupping. I did paint the ends as a precaution, but I've also been storing them upright. I found a webpage somewhere (one of the few I didn't bookmark...yarg!) that suggested storing lumber on end instead of horizontally prevented almost all checking. I haven't done enough experimenting to verify that, but it sure hasn't hurt!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Planes and Ice

 My Stanley Bailey #5 that I mentioned in a previous post got a new knob the other night. I cut a chunk of Maple, drilled it and countersunk it, then shaved it down with my knife to a good grip. It's a large knob, but my have large hands so it's fitting to have a large knob. (har har). I couldn't find a screw or threaded rod at the hardware store that matched the plane, so I used the old bent bolt, which is working fine. I gave it a heavy coat of Formby's Danish Oil Finish, and it's good to go.

The water in the backyard has been making interesting ice forms the last couple weeks.

Here's a quick video showing my new Lee Valley scrub plane that I just got a couple days ago. I have it set to take 1mm shavings off of this semi-green Maple board, and it really chews boards down fast. It's definitely a workout to use, and my shoulders aren't quite used to it yet, but it's far faster and easier than using my #5. The fit and finish on this plane is very good. The tote came a little loose, but I gave the screws half a turn each and everything is tight. It took 60 seconds to get the iron razor sharp, and I was planing within minutes of opening the box.

I also got a Veritas Wonder Dog, which I like, but it doesn't fit in my 3/4" dog holes. I'm going to have to get a 13/16" bit to slightly enlarge the holes so the dog will go in easily. It's possible that the wood of my bench top has shrunk slightly since I brought it down to the basement, but the dog was a tight fit even in a dog hole I bored just a few days ago.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Miniature Scrub Plane

The iron made from a dull old file.

Broke my coping saw while ripping the Maple plane body :(

Friday, December 03, 2010

Marking Gauge

This marking gauge came out of my backyard. I started with a small Maple log, split it in half, hewed it to a rough board with my axe, then set it aside for a month. I brought it downstairs, planed it square and smoothed it out. I wanted a project to use my new mortise chisels on, so I decided to make this marking gauge based on the one that I saw on the page "Woodworking In Vietnam". Turns out this is also a classical French design, which I learned on some other woodworking page somewhere out there.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted a pin or a knife, so I made both out of a couple of small finish nails. I tried them out on a piece of scrap and decided I prefer the knife.

The jaws on my bit brace can't close tight enough to grab the tiny drill bit I needed to drill the pilot hole for the knife, so I tried using some pine jaws in the brace. Not enough friction, so I dug up the pin vise, which worked like a charm.

The finished gauge works well enough for me. The beam isn't perfectly square to the fence, but it does the job. I'm putting on a few coats of Formby's "Tung Oil Finish" to finish it up, and I'll call it done.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Few New Things

Last week I finished a new work bench, made from pressure treated 6x6s. I had them laying around, so I used them. This bench is super massive. The top felt it weighed 80-100 pounds alone.

I don't have any vises, but I installed a plane stop and I bought a couple clamps that can traverse the width of the top with room to spare. This allows me to hold wood adequately in the three major planes of orientation. In the photo I have a piece of scrap pine clamped for edge planing while I was tuning my planes.

The difficulty I'm having is clamping a piece flat to the top of the bench, such as when I want to chisel a mortise into the face of a piece. The trouble is that my clamps are too long to orient the excess bar below the bench, and orienting the excess bar above the bench puts them right in the way of my mallet. I drilled dog holes that will accept traditional holdfasts, but haven't decided whether I actually want to shell out for a pair or deal with what I have.

After I finished assembling my bench in my basement room, I started getting my planes in shape. I have had these for quite some time, but without an effective way to hold my work, they were almost useless (except for trimming a door once). With the bench, though, they become very useful. I got a piece of glass, some spray adhesive, and a bunch of cheap sandpaper in 100 and 220. I also picked up some 400, 600, and 1200 wet/dry. I polished the soles, lapped the blades, sharpened them up.

The knob on my Bailey #5 is broken, and the screw is bent, so I need to make a replacement and try to find a suitable screw. I haven't got around to it yet, but I have been using it without any problem. I put a slight camber on the blade, and I have it set heavy to try to take the place of a scrub plane. Using it is a bit of a workout, but it does the job. I have one of my block planes set as a heavy smoother, and the other block plane set as a fine smoother. I polished rubbed some paste wax onto all the polished metal to try to reduce rusting caused by my grimy mitts.

With these three planes I can take a rough hewn board down to a glassy smooth, square board.

Leevalley is running a great deal on some mortise chisels. Only through the 15th, so if you want some, get on it quick. I lightly flattened the backs, polished up the bevels, and they cut great.

I felt a hankering for a couple of longer knives, so I ordered a Mora #2 and a Lauri 4.8" blade from Ben's Backwoods. I love the Mora #1 blade shape and length, but the handle is too small to be comfortable for heavy cutting. The #2 has a nice big handle.