Friday, February 28, 2014

Making Progress

Making progress on the side table. I like the design, simple but should be strong. The added curves lighten the look so it isn't too clunky. I still haven't decided on the top, I may make up a couple or three and pick one after living with it.

There is a wood sale at our local Woodcraft Saturday, Joe brings in truck loads of wood from Ohio a couple of times a year, his lumber is rough cut and true size and usually the price is fair. I'm low on Maple and Cherry and I think there is only one small chunk of Walnut in the stacks. I expect to be slightly poorer Sunday.

I'm in the middle of my annual training at work, what a PITA. This is inside baseball but the FAA has changed and added to the training requirements (so what's new, they are always changing the training requirements) and in addition to training my line I'm attending my own G.S. and Sim training. It's really ugly, I'm old, blind, can't hear, and I think at the speed of the company computers. Oh well, by next week it will be over and I will not have to do it again until this time next year.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Starting to Look Like a Table Base

The legs and rails are fitted, every thing fits well and the shoulders pull up tight. I need to make a few small adjustments, shape the lower legs and the rails, run a bead on the rails and maybe the legs, make the pegs and drill for draw boring.

I've some really nice quarter sawed Sycamore that might work for a top but it may end up with a Sapele top. I'll make that decision after the glue up so I can live with it for a few days.

I almost forgot about chopping the mortices for attaching the table top. It is kinda like framing a building, the framing goes fast, it is the finish work that takes all the time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Side Table

I've had a few minutes to spare the last couple of days, most of it spent on shop time. The tool room is still torn up and it may remain that way for awhile. The only things in it are the lathe and the Tormek other than those it is just storage. I can't remember the last time I used the lathe and the Tormek is only used to grind new bevels, doesn't happen often.

What I have worked on is MsOK's small side table. Progress has been slow but steady. I fitted two of the rails this morning and I may be able to fit the other two tomorrow. Still a lot of detail work to go but at least you can almost see a table if you squint hard enough.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prep the Shoulder for the Saw

My line for the week changed several times yesterday, it went from the week from hell to not bad, back to from hell to not bad several times. It ended up in the not bad column. Being not bad, I have a little time to spend working on MsOK's side table.

The leg mortices are chopped, the rails are dimensioned and the tenons are marked out. This morning I've been prepping the shoulders for the saw. Two down, two to go, then saw the tenons, shape the legs, draw bore and glue it all together, make the top and I will have a side table. Sounds easy just listing the steps and is but.....

Cleaning Out the Shop

Many years ago life got in the way of woodworking and I closed down the shop. A very good friend rescued my tools and stored them for many years. When I semi-retired several years ago I made a trip to Texas to retrieve my tools with plans to set up a hand tool shop with just a band saw as my only machine.  At the same time we were talking about re-doing the kitchen, I didn't like any of the Big Box options and in a moment of insanity I said I would do the kitchen re-do. With that the hand tool shop went out the window and over a few months I set up a complete machine wood shop.

I've been in the process of clearing out the shop and returning to the original concept but keeping the jointer and planer. All that is a long way around to posting I have a few tools to sell:

First up is a WoodRat with Mortice Rail, I think I have over a $1000 USD in it, first $400 USD plus shipping and it is gone. There are also all the router bits needed to build kitchen cabinets plus a few, all Freud with a few Whiteside. All lightly used (one small kitchen build). A quick estimate is also well over a $1000 USD of 1/2" bits, I would like to sell the lot together and will do an inventory with photos if anyone is interested. BTW, I have several 1/2" routers if you need something to drive the bits.

A bad photo of the WoodRat:

I you have any interest in these tools or any other, leave a comment and I will figure out a way to make it happen.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nothing like a Pig Sticker

I've started the first of MsOK's side tables. This one will be simple and traditional with a base of Sapele and a Sycamore top. The base was rough dimensioned this AM, the neighbors have to love me, nothing like a dust collector running at 02:00 on a Sunday morning. The tunes were good as well.

The first pair of mortices have been chopped, three more to go. I've tried most ways of chopping mortices, hollow chisel, router, drill press, bench chisel, slash chisel, and all work Ok but for a limited number such as for a simple table there ain't nothing better nor faster than a Pig Sticker.  I've a few old ones I've refurbished but the best are the Ray Iles Chisels from Tools for Working Wood.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stop Me Before I Build a New Bench

As I posted a few posts ago, I rearranged the shop which opened it up slightly. While looking at the shop yesterday I realized if I moved the lathe into the tool room (there is room for it, kinda) there would be room for my bench along the wall and I could build a new bench. I like that idea, I could use a second bench and it would allow me to make some minor changes to what would be my primary bench.

When I built this bench I debated installing an end vise, what kind, and if one was needed. A wagon vise answered most of my objections to end vises and I decided it was easier to install one during the build than to come back and do a retrofit if I decided one was needed, so I installed a end vise. I would guess over the last couple of years I've used it maybe a half dozen times and even for those times it was used because it was there not because it was needed. Eliminating the end vise and the associated dogs would be the only functional change I would make. I expect I would also do away with the split top, that's another feature that looks good in theory but isn't used much and wouldn't be missed.

I guess the bottom line is: Pretty much the same bench but even simpler. I would go back to the leg vise with a crisscross instead of the guide, 3/4" dog holes away from the front edge placed for holdfasts and stops, the same size bench.....approximately 2300mmX610mmX865mm and some where around 180 to 200 kilo. The only other change might be the wood. While SYP makes a great bench, it isn't very pretty and this time I might go for pretty as well as functional.

This is the current bench, it would be really nice to have two of 'em.

A Couple of Step Stools

MsOK wanted a couple of step stools, one to use loading her kiln and the other for the house. I finished the second one last night after work and put on a coat of wax this morning. Staples' Dark Brown Paste Wax over Tried and True makes Red Oak sing.

I like both designs and will likely make both again. As the dovetailed stool is the cleaner build it will stay in the house and the other will go to MsOK's studio.

Next up, three side tables by request. As much as I dislike working with Oak, it can look very nice when finished. My guess is at least one of the side tables will be Oak. The other two, maybe light....Sycamore or Country Maple or if I decide to go dark Sapele or Cherry. Or maybe three tables, three woods....light, medium, and dark.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I've had the Splits

I've had a bad case of the splits lately. I really do not think I'm doing anything different, nor am I forcing joints together with greater force than normal but damn I've had a lot of splits over the last couple of months. Not on every project but a lot more than normal.

Last night I was glueing up an Oak Step Stool I made for MsOK, It had been put together and taken apart several times in the process of fitting. Everything was well fitting, tight but would go together with hand pressure. Just the way I like 'em to fit. During the clamping I noticed one of the shoulders on the stretcher tenon wasn't quite seated and I tightened the clamps on the legs to pull it up. Yep, the leg split right down the middle.

I spent a lot of time on the stool and I really liked the design....Oh well, I will put a metal strap on the leg and I've needed a shop stool anyway.

I dug out another Red Oak board this afternoon and have started a new stool. This one a little less traditional design, it will be dovetailed with a through M&T stretcher. A three sided box with a stretcher for the fourth side.

More Thoughts on Sharpening

I've been thinking about the process of sharpening. Thinking, dangerous thing to do, could fry the few remaining working brain cells and/or come up with something really dumb but what the hey. Sometimes I need to write about it to see if I'm on the right track or off chasing rabbits.

Sharpening is kinda like religion or tribalism, your method is the only true way or you are a seeker trying this month's way to enlightenment....knowing truth must be in the way of the latest guru. Been there, tried most of the ways, found they all work, some easier, some faster, some a PITA, but bottom line if you scrape enough metal off both sides of the iron you will get a sharp edge.

Here comes the kicker, What's sharp? Is it a near perfect meeting of two planes at what angle? Can it be too sharp? What about sharp enough? Cut to the chase, here's what has been bugging me: I think we spend too much time and attention looking for the perfect edge, for irons that are sharper than sharp. As has been said "Your chisel, plane iron, whatever, can't be too sharp". I think it can and I think we have lost the reason for stropping. It isn't to make the iron sharper but to dull it, to slightly "dub" the iron. Irons straight off the stones when using a jig on high number water stones or a machine like a Tormek are sharper than an iron that has been stropped. You can feel the difference in the first test cut of end grain. The un-stropped iron will make hair die just by approaching but at the first touch of wood the edge fractures where a stropped iron is not quite perfect, not as scary sharp but if sharpened at an appropriate angle will be "sharp enough" and will remain so for much longer than an un-stropped iron.

Fire away, tell me I'm full of stuff, tell me the reason I'm wrong. I got's to know.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Some Thoughts on Sharpening

I've been in the "Sharp Enough" school for awhile. While irons so sharp they make arm hair commit hari-kari (sorry I can't help myself sometimes) just by getting close are impressive the truth is at the first touch of wood the edge will fracture. At least for me I want an edge sharp enough to do the job well but at the same time resists early fracture.

With that preference I will usually sharpen chisels by hand, putting a slight convex curve to the bevel. It's fast, sharp enough, and gives a fracture resistant edge, I think stronger than either a micro bevel or flat bevel. With plane irons I've usually sharpened with either the Tormek or a honing jig like the Eclipse because I've felt jigs and/or the Tormek will produce a sharper iron and because plane irons usually do not endure the abuse chisels do. The extra time to use either the Tormek or a jig was a good trade off for plane irons. That may change.

I'm off today but have to work the next three days and there really isn't time to get involved in a big project so I thought I would run a very subjective test of my thoughts on sharpening plane irons. I have a #3, a #4, and a #5 Woodriver planes all with Hock O1 irons and chip breakers. I hand sharpened the #5, used the Tormek (with the 3000 grit Japanese water stone to finish) on the #3, and the Eclipse, using the same diamond stones I used to hand sharpen, on the #4. The hand sharpened iron and the jig sharpened iron were stropped on a horse's butt strop charged with Herb's Yellow Stone.

After re-installing the irons I edge planed some Sapele, Red Oak, Sycamore, and Cherry and face planed the Sapele. All very subjective but at first the Tormek sharpened #3 felt a very slight bit sharper while edge planing the Sapele but with the other woods I really could not feel any difference. The real difference came when face planing the Sapele. The Tormek iron and the Eclipse iron both had tear out, the hand sharpened iron was smooth as a baby's butt.

When I looked at the irons with a 20X lupe after the planing there was some slight fracturing of both the Tormek iron and the Eclipse iron. The hand sharpened iron looked just like it did when I first finished sharpening it.

I expect I will continue to use the Tormek on my 51 shooting plane iron and some of the smaller irons and plow irons that are hard to hold but for the rest I'll do 'em by hand. It's faster and just as good. YMMV.

Now some tool porn:

From left to right: Hand, Tormek, Eclipse

Not that you can tell anything but all post about planes must have a photo of the plane with shavings:

The hand sharpened iron:

The Tormek iron:

The Eclipse iron: