Monday, February 28, 2011

Antique Stores

  Yesterday the weather turned nice here in sunny Connecticut, so I decided to get some shopping done.  I needed more socks, and I wanted to see what the antique stores had for tools.  Not a huge haul, but not bad.  At the Junk Shop I found a simple hand drill that was in decent shape.  I almost missed the saw vise, it was clamped to one of the shelves.  It's an interesting one, with a large ball-in-socket that allows you to swing the saw around at any angle in all of the axes, without the need to unclamp.  This will work well for small saws, but for the my new little panel saw, it was a bit of a moot point because I could only clamp half the blade at a time anyways.  There was some rust and gunk in all the corners and screws of the vise, which I figured would take some elbow grease.  I was surprised when I got it home and had it working fine after five minutes with some 3-in-1 oil.  I need to replace the wing nut that locks the ball joint, the wings broke off.  At the antique mall over in Collinsville there was mostly junk and overpriced axes, but I did find this Disston saw in halfway decent shape.  A few minutes with a ball peen hammer and a screwdriver had the plate straightened out and the handle tight.  Another 15 or 20 minutes with a file and it was cutting decently.  I think it might be overset, so maybe I'll flatten out the teeth and reset them.  The problem could also be my less-than-perfect sharpening job. 

I've started building a new bench because the one I've been using has been feeling a little small.  I'm also tired of clamping everything to it instead of using a vise.  I'll be adding a leg vise to my new bench, which will be something like Roy Underhill's Roubo style bench.  The top will be two 6x6" pressure treated pieces 6 feet long, that I already had.  Above is the picture of cutting them to length, after another couple of days I will joint them and glue them up.  I was going to build the legs from the same, but decided it wasn't worth the effort, so I bought some 4x4 and a 2x12 that that I ripped down the middle, because it was clearer and in better shape than any of the 2x6 that they had.  The 2x6 will be for the stretchers and the tool well at the back.  You can see how small my shop is compared to the lumber.  There isn't a lot of space to work in there right now, I'll be glad to make the new bench and get the old one out.  As a side note, I'm planning on taking video of all the steps and showing how I build a bench without already having a bench. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Storage Solution and a Plan

Up until an hour ago, this is what the shelf against the back wall of my shop looked like, but the box of small scraps was on the bottom shelf.  That poor little cardboard box has been overflowing with little nearly-useless bits of nice wood for quite a while now, and spilling out onto the floor.  Yesterday I finally did something about it and made a drawer for that bottom shelf that would hold plenty of scraps (as well as the small scrap metal box on the shelf in the left corner).  I elected to use some of the wide Yellow Pine boards I got the other day, so I cut the pieces to length, shot the ends, laid out some half blind dovetails on the front and regular dovetails on the back, and went to work with the saw and chisel.  Because this is a piece of shop furniture and I don't really care about appearances, I went fast and the joints show it.  I would have just nailed the thing together, but I needed the practice on half blind dovetails (I've only cut one on some scrap before).  I did nail the bottom in with some cut nails, because I don't have a plow plane (which will need to change in the near future).

The completed drawer in it's new home, being very useful:
 In the above photo you can also see a few things that could be interesting, depending on your interests.  On top of the shelf I have two boxes, the bottom of which holds several axes.  The top box holds my Narex mortise chisels, my Lee Valley scrub plane, my Lee Valley carcass saw, and I have my two favorite axes resting on top.  There is also a plate of glass that I set there to get at something else.  The top shelf holds all of my glues and finishes, which doesn't really amount to much, but there it is.  The middle shelf (from left to right) holds my stapler, the dremel, a box of various drill and driver bits, a box of timberlock screws, some half-finished spoons, and a tackle box holding all of my screws and nails.  To the right of the shelf I have all of my hardwood, mostly Maple that I milled myself, but also a little Cherry and a couple pieces of some mystery wood that could be Mahogany.  Just out of the picture on the right is my hot water heater.

A friend of mine approached me about building a storage solution for her DVD collection, which is currently about 320 strong.  I have been drawing up ideas based on 400, to allow for some growth.  We met up last night to see which of the ideas she likes most, and we settled on a fairly basic frame and panel design.  This unit will end up being about 68" tall and about 36" wide, so it will be no small thing.  Right now we're leaning toward Cherry for the carcass and a high quality plywood for the panels, with glass in the doors.  The curved sides are due to the distortion in my camera lens, all the lines are supposed to be straight.  I'm thinking I'll aim for the main carcass pieces to be 3" wide on the face, with the door frame about 2" wide.  On the scale drawing it looks about right to my eye.  I think I'll want to use knife hinges to keep the clean lines on the front, but I'm not sure what to do about pulls for the doors yet.  Maybe a couple of those things that allow you to press the door in, and then it springs out.   I'm definitely going to need a plow plane for this project.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Goings On

Today one of the guys I work for sent me home with this pile of Yellow Pine flooring left over from a job.  After I plane the backs of the boards smooth they will probably be a heavy 1/2" or 5/8" thick.  Some of these will be 11" wide after I take off the tongue and groove.  Some are as narrow as 6", which is still plenty wide.

I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, or where I'm going to keep it.  My tiny basement room is already plenty crowded, and a couple of these pieces are still 16 feet long, which wouldn't fit down there even if I could get them down the stairs and around the corner in the first place.  I might make a bookshelf or something, but I don't really need any furniture right now.

Below you can see a couple of new things.  In the middle is my new bowsaw.  I have been frustrated with my coping saw for a while now, and instead of spending $15 on a new one that probably wouldn't be much better, I decided to go ahead and get the Gramercy Tools bowsaw kit, which consists of the two brass pins and one of each of the three blades.  For $25 and three hours of work, I have a good small bowsaw that is miles ahead of  my crappy coping saw, even though I haven't added handles yet.  I made it from Oak, and left the frame a little hefty, so it's not quite as elegant as the Gramercy frame, but I don't have to worry about snapping the frame by over-tightening it.  I also left the frame quite rough, not even taking off all of the original finish from the Oak's previous life as a cabinet door.

At the front left corner you can see a crochet of sorts (one word that I have seen these called, and the only one that is coming to mind right now).  So far the only use it's been is a resting place for my brace.  Normally used to secure the end of a board for edge planing, with a dog in a hole on the front bench to support the board.  The rear end is supported by a dog or a clamp in my case.  It works okay, but I can't say I'm overwhelmed.  Peter Follansbee seems to like these, but he has a screw through his.  I might try that.  I've also seen one of these used to support a board for dovetailing on a portable bench, but the wood kept shifting on me.  Maybe the angle on mine is too open and doesn't pinch the wood enough.  

Thumbs Up Lee Valley

Last week I pulled out my Lee Valley carcass saw, and for whatever reason happened to look at the bottom of the handle where the brass nut belongs.  It wasn't there.  I assume it rattled loose due to the vibrations the travel through the saw during use.  Baffled, I looked around the floor and in the box that it had been residing.  I couldn't find it anywhere, and in all likelihood it ended up in my friend's fire the other night with the contents of my shavings bucket, or maybe it's cavorting in some dark hidden place with all of my missing socks.  The handle was very firm still, so I went ahead and used the saw (though a bit gingerly) and when I was done I sent an email to Lee Valley customer service.  That was Wednesday night, and I received the new saw nut Monday when the UPS guy drove by.  I was very pleased with the quick and friendly service.  If there was any doubt in my mind that Lee Valley would be getting more of my money in the future (there wasn't), it is gone now.  Now I have my eye on their plow plane. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Finished Picture Frame

I finished up the picture frame the other day and delivered it. To finish it I glued the joints together, gave it a few coats of Danish Oil, and matted the picture.

Below are a couple pictures of a new beam I made for my marking gauge, in an attempt to cut out the rabbets in the frame, but the Cherry was too hard and brittle for that idea to work. I made the blade from a hacksaw blade, which it turns out is a little on the flexible side. The blade kept bending out and following the grain. At some point I'll make a new blade out of some thicker steel.

The nice thing about this style of marking gauge is that it's not too difficult to quickly whip up a new beam if you have a special need. I'm considering making a couple of beams with pins set for my most commonly used mortise chisels. It might get done in a couple of years.

The other day, I also finally took the time to grind on my hook knife. It's the Frost small diameter hook knife, which I got over the summer. I sharpened it up then, but I was never 100% satisfied with the grind that it had. It performed well enough, and got the job done, but it was getting dull again so I figured I might as well do a good job as long as I had nothing better to do for a few minutes. Hook knives are difficult to grind, but not impossible. I ended up thinning out the grind right behind the edge, which reduces the resistance the edge meets in the wood. I'm much happier with the knife now, but I'd still like to get a hold of one of Del Stubbs' hooks. Those things are beautiful.