14 August 2013

On Thicker Plane Blades.

I bought a Lie-Nielsen blade for my antique Stanley #4 USA a few  years ago but always seemed to prefer using my Record 030 without really knowing why.

The other day I was trying to fettle the #4 because the shavings were clogging up in the mouth, something that never happened before.  I first lapped the chipbreaker on the back surface so that it seated flush with blade, and then I stropped the front edge to allow shavings to flow over unhindered.  This didn't work.

I then tried moving the frog forwards and backwards-this didn't work either.  Too far forward & the plane mouth closed up, and too far backwards and I couldn't adjust the blade downwards-the adjustment screw reached its limit.

There was only one thing left to do.  I moved the chipbreaker further back along the blade, leaving a much larger gap.  This seemed to work fine, even though I've read that the gap has to be much smaller.  Maybe Stanley planes were not designed to take other blades?

Aside: In the background of the 1st picture is a Paul Sellers-inspired hand tool applicator.  take home-use machine (inorganic) oil only!

16 May 2013

Box in Partridge Wood & Oak

Completed Box before finish.
Continuing with my love for making boxes, I made this from scrap pieces of Partridge Wood (Panga Panga) and White Oak.
The two short ends fitted into rabbeted sides and 3 nails were hammered in for support as well as looks.
The bottom was recessed into a rabbet and ship lapped.  There should be no significant wood movement on such a small piece so the ship lap was more for effect.
The Partridge Wood top was re-sawn and book matched.  Because it is an oily wood and thus difficult to glue, I first used a 2 part epoxy to glue the two pieces together.  Then I added two butterfly inlays for added support. 

Completed Box after finish-those aren't feet, they're my dog holes.
I added a photo before the finish was added to show how the finish brings out the beautiful grain.  Finish used was the old faithful Danish Oil and wax.  Not shown is how the lid fits in place.  I used a shoulder plane to cut a custom rabbet all around to fit the not-so-perfectly-square box without rattling around. 

A new home for my Record 043.


21 February 2013

Wagon Vice


 When I built my Roubo bench I installed a traditional leg vice as shown.  I was never happy with the grip of this vice, and so when I installed my old Record vice and the tail end of the bench, I found myself using this all the time.

I suppose I could have stuck leather onto the leg vice, or bought a better quality threaded screw.  I'm not sure if that would have made a difference? The fact that the leg vice didn't have a quick release also played a large part. 

So seeing I liked the Record vice so much, I decided to move it to the front, and to make a wagon vice using a shoulder vice screw from Lee Valley.

I faced the following problems:
  1. I needed to chop out a large hole for the wagon vice as well as drill more holes through the bench for the Record vice.  This would not in any way weaken the 4" (100mm) thick Ash top, I just don't like doing it.
  2. Flipping the bench over to Rout the bottom hole (to prevent blowout) was, well, flipping difficult.  The Roubo bench is designed to be massive.
  3. Holding the Record vice upwards against the top while threading the bolts was very difficult if doing it alone.
  4. There was no ideal place to put the Record vice as the bench leg is very thick, and the bench itself is very short (1400mm).  I decided to put it in front of the leg, which meant that the vice is near the front edge.


  You will notice the wagon vice hardware on top of the bench, and the coach screws that secure the end piece are not evenly spaced because I had to make allowance for the Record vice which was previously there.

After marking out the "through mortice" for the wagon vice, I drilled a series of large holes and then used a hand held router to remove the waste-part of which is sitting on top of the bench.

Then I cut a square mortice in the end of the bench to accept the wagon vice screw.  This was done both with a hand chisel and a palm router.  The little hole is a pilot for the threaded rod and is exactly in line with the row of dog holes.

 Next I drilled a 30mm hole with a Forstener bit, held straight with the DJ-1 drilling jig.

This picture looks difficult to fathom, but I used a traditional method for the underside part of the wagon vice runner.  I picked Rhodesian Teak (a distant family to African Rosewood) as it is self-lubricating to a degree.


You will notice that I have two rows of dog holes and my outer row is closer to the edge than most I've seen on the net.

This plus the wagon vice screw is actually a shoulder vice screw and therefore shorter, restricted me in some ways.

It works well, in that it is very fast and doesn't need much force to hold a board still.

18 December 2012

Box in Silky Oak.

 This one of those projects that you should never show anyone, let alone publish it.  Everything that could go wrong did. And that's exactly why I'm posting it.  It started out as another in-between-project project and a practice for hand cut dovetails.  I also wanted to test the Silky Oak, as it was very cheap and not the most popular wood for furniture making.  I saw my woodworking hero Paul Sellers make a similar box on a recent blog.  He probably finished it in 2 minutes and 48 seconds.

Up to now I'd been cutting dovetails with softer pine which allows for a tighter fit. The Oak was not as forgiving so even thought the dovetails looked super tight (see below) on dry assembly, there was no glue space, so the gluing up was a nightmare.

In the ensuing panic I didn't square up the box properly and that was a problem when fitting a lid that slides in a groove cut into three sides of the box!  But it was good practice, because after all woodworking is mainly about problem solving.  I raised the panel by hand-marking gauge and #5 jack plane.  I cut the grooves for the lid with a Record 050 plough plane.  And I had fun.

Silky Oak is easy to work in terms of plane and chisel,  but there is a fair amount of tearout.  I found the grain very busy and would therefore personally not use it with bigger pieces.

Toolbox for Leathercraft Tools.

In between projects and needed to practice my hand cut through dovetails, so I made this box to keep my leather-crafting tools.  I used Pine (South African Pine is terrible and very expensive), as it is relatively cheap and easy on the tools' edges.  I decided to make small trays of plywood that wood stack as there are quite few tools and I didn't want them to bank against each other.  The lid was frame and panel, the frame was mortice & tenon and the panel, from Kiaat, was raised by hand with a Stanley #78 rabbet plane and a jack plane.

I cut the dividers for the tool trays with the help of my Bridge City Tools KM-1kerfmaker.  This tool has fast become one of my best friends (other than Google). The next sequence shows the trays being stacked from the bottom up, first empty and then with the tools in place.  Finish with Danish oil and wax.




For the tray bottoms, some I left bare, others i covered in Skyvex-a nice thin imitation leather that bookbinders use, and some I stuck on some veneer offcuts. 


I've always wanted to make one of these.  Not only because they look cool, but they are very practical if you own a few handsaws.  The reason is the size of the saws makes them difficult to store. You cannot stack them, or put them on a shelf, and they are too long for most cupboards.  Many woodworkers hang them off pegs around the workshop, but I find that untidy and a use of space that I don't have.  The sawtill I made hangs on a French cleat quite high on the wall.  You can do this because you are grabbing the saw by the handle which is on the bottom end, and this in turn allows you to store tools below.

I made this out of pine, under the supervision of a teacher.  The lessons learnt were very valuable (see my following two posts on hand cut dovetailed boxes), and being in an experienced woodworker's shop is a lesson in itself-you get to see how they work, their flow their tools.

03 September 2012

F-Clamp Rack with the KM-1 KerfMaker.

I have collected a variety of F-Clams of different sizes over the last 4 years. Most have been from garage sales so there are few that match.  I've had them stored all over the place up to now which not only is messy, but I tend to forget half of them.  They usually were clamped to a shelf wherever space was available, but this meant that I had to loosen them each time I needed to use them.
I decided not to make a fuss over this rack, as long as it could take a few hours to build, and hold all my F-Clamps in one place.  I started off by screwing some metal shelf brackets onto some Meranti scrap pieces.  The  whole assembly was then attached to the wall with Fischer plugs.
I then needed to decide how far the supporting piece was to be from the wall for clearance.  Too close and the front of the clamp would touch the wall, and too far and the clamps would get in the way (I have a small workshop).
The above photo shows two small pieces of pine resting on the shelf.  The long piece was then moved forward or back until the right distance was found.  I then marked the pieces against each other as well as "right" & "left" to prevent mistakes.  This has happened in the past.  After measuring, when I bring the individual pieces down onto the bench, I usually mix things up.  So measuring in-situ so to speak helps prevent this.

Next I had to make a quick lap joint for where the pieces intersect.  Enter the radial arm saw and the KM-1 KerfMaker from Bridge City Tools.

I cut 4 lap joints in under 5 minutes thanks to this ingenious invention.  Take into account that the two pieces being joined were a different width so it required two setups.

Above is the finished joint.  You will notice the familiar markings that help prevent mistakes-the triangle & the numbers.
Now all that was left was to attach the wood to the shelf bracket with screws and hang the clamps.

I had thoughts of using the space above the clamps by making an open box or carcase lying on its side.  The bottom side would be where the clamps would hang, and the top part would be a shelf.  Maybe next time.
Although I did not want to spend time on this project, I definitely made it faster and better than previous similar shop fixtures.  I have re-organised/ re-designed my workshop four times up to now.  Each time there was not only a shifting around of tools and furniture, but also discarding some and acquiring new.  And even though the above project is quick & simple, the way I approached it is profoundly different to how I would have one or two years ago:

  • The two Meranti pieces for the shelf bracket were cut to an identical size using a stop block-no rulers.  I also spent a few minutes smoothing and chamfering the visible sides with my #3 smoother. This is one of  many times where hand tools can be seen to complement power tools.
  • In order to ensure that the two brackets were positioned identical to each other, I first drew a centre line on the wood, again not using the ruler but by stopping the marking gauge against the side.  I then located the bottom screw hole of the bracket over the centre line and used a centre punch to mark the hole. I then drilled a pilot hole and put the screw in loosely.  The shelf bracket can pivot on this bottom hole for the next step:
  • To rotate the top of the bracket so that it sat centre in the Meranti piece, I used a marking gauge and butted the bracket against it.  This all sounds very obvious, but if you don't how about gauging versus measuring off a ruler, or centre punching and pilot hole drilling before you attach a screw, things will most likely not be accurate.  These valuable lessons I did not learn from books, but from watching experienced woodworkers at work in their workshops.  The era of apprentices is gone, but there are still some older guys around who learnt the correct way.  I encourage beginners and experienced woodworkers alike to spend some time with these masters. No matter how much you already know, you will learn something new from them.  And it will stay with you, unlike the stuff we read in books. Sad to face it, but these guys won't be around forever!