Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another Damn Sharping Post...Just Walk On By

When between projects and with a little time to play in the shop but not enough time or energy to tackle one of the many builds in the queue I will usually spend it either cleaning the shop or tool maintenance. The worst is when most of the tools are sharp and the shop is in near working condition then I gravitate to the really boring "what if's" such as: "Are water stones really better than oil?". "What about diamonds?" Or even better, "Natural vs. man made?".

You know where this is going. Over the last few days I've had limited time in the shop but enough to get in trouble with the "what if's". I've used oil stones as my primary sharpening medium for most of my life. I've made runs at most of the other ways but without fail when adding up all the advantages and disadvantages vs. other ways Ark oil stones work better for me. Of course, as always, YMMV.

The last few days follow the script. It started when I wanted to take another look at sharpening Veritas PM on Ark oil stones vs. water stones as referenced yesterday. Today I decided to play with some O1 chisels on Shampton's vs. Ark stones.

The common thread is almost all water stones will give a very nice polish even at the courser grits, oil not so much not even on oil polishing stones. To get a polish if that is your objective, at least when I'm doing it, requires going to a strop charged with one of the compounds. While I like to see a well polished iron, that really is not the objective, what I want is a edge that is "sharp" (whatever sharp is) and will last pass the first touch of wood.

I've found the scratch pattern is more important than polish and I think that is where most man made stones lose. I've seen very polished irons, irons that will blind you they are so shinny but with deep scratches on the back and bevel. Most of the time natural stones will give a better scratch pattern.

The real test is not visual but how does the iron cut wood, that of course is subjective. I've yet to find any stone that gives a better working edge than oil stones. It could be because I know Ark oil stones better than water stones or I may be full of whatever and/or just do not know how to get the best out of water stones. Both are very likely.

Bottom line, Ark stones still rule my sharpening bench with Atoma diamond stones for grinding.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ebonized Beech

Ralph asked for a photo of the ebonized Beech. It does not fit, closer to fitting but still about 1/2 mil too wide. I'm still surprised at how much such a small piece of wood expanded, guess I shouldn't be because a lot of water was used to ebonized it.

IIRC the Beech lid had three apps of tannic acid (boiled White Oak shavings), then one of vinegar and steel wool followed by one more app of both.

The box has a well fitting lid of Cherry that looks good, who knows other than MsBubba which one it will end up with.

On to other things:

The house, in other words MsBubba, is sleeping in this morning so I'm finding things to do that do not make too much noise such as sharpening iron. I have a number of Veritas PM irons both plane and chisel. I decided to A&B a couple of the PM chisels on water and oil stones just because. 

I'm still undecided if the PM is worth the extra cost and effort. After working several of the chisels on both oil and water stones this morning I have not changed my mind. PM is not a lot of effort to sharpen on oil stones if you start with a hollow grind. Problem is I'm lazy and do not like to take the time to hollow grind unless the iron is damaged or the bevel needs changing. Both oil and water on the hollow ground chisels quickly gave a very sharp edge, not enough different from O1 to change the world but I would not go to the effort to change from PM to O1 like I do with A2. 

Bottom line, for day to day work I'll stick with O1 and save the PM irons for use with things like Teak. BTW, I have most of a 8/4 Teak plank that followed me home back in the 70's. It's been around so long I hate to cut it up.

Enough free association for one morning, back to the stones.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winter Solstice in Mexico

The title is not absolutely correct, the day of the Solstice was spent in Tucson getting ready to celebrate the most important day of the year, MsBubba's B-day, on the 22sd. After paying proper homage to TMIDOTY I loaded the RV with enough food, beer, and whisky to last a month along with the critters and MsBubba for the trip to Rocky Point, Mexico.

The trip down was "interesting". We knew leaving that we would drive through a line of WX that was moving from Rocky Point through Tucson. What we didn't know was how strong the winds would be. The steady wind was around 30 knots with gust of 50 knots or better. The motorhome did a great job but I didn't get to relax a lot on the drive. Once pass Lukeville, AZ the storm was over and it was blue skies and lighter winds for the rest of the drive.

As always, Mexico was great. The dogs swam their hearts out. I ate and drank until no mas, no mas, and MsBubba played on the beach. It doesn't get much better.

I made a separate ebonized Beech lid for last week's dovetail "test" box. It fit perfectly, maybe even a little loose, before ebonizing. When I tried to fit it to the box the lid was at least a mil or two too wide. It has been setting for a week and is still too wide. I'll give it another month before I take any off the sides. I didn't think that small a lid could move that much but it did.

BTW, the ebonized Beech is beautiful.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Shop Dogs

Not much in life brings as much joy as a good dog. Sam the Wonder Dog and Sweet Maggie Dog are good dogs.

They know where I keep the rawhide bones and as with most of their treat patrols they work as a team. Rawhide bones are no different, when I see the two of 'em show up in the shop I know the drill....They have me well trained.

Today I happened to have the camera with me in the shop when they decided it was time for a bone. Maggie will usually let Sam lead the way unless she decides he's not being effective, then she will go into full "too cute for words mode".

Bottom line I'm a sucker for 'em and the treats are forthcoming.

I made a marking jig for dovetails the other day. I stole the idea from David Barron. This is the third one I've made, the first was ok but a little off square. The second was better but not dead nuts on. This one is as close to perfect as I can get. BTW, I used the previous jig to help mark each new one, so each got better than the last. 

The only way to know for sure if they are square is to make something, as usual a small box served to check the jig. 

Anyway a small box with no finish or lid:


Friday, December 09, 2016

One More Atkins

I got around to sharpening another of the Atkins panel saws last night. I've been on what some call a graveyard shift this week with a 0100 show and a 0800 finish. While in many ways it is my favorite line, no suits to put up with, time off during business hours so things can be taken care of, but it can be hell on your sleep pattern and motivation for shop projects.

As usual, when working the early AM line, about all that gets done is tool and shop maintenance.  My chisels lose a few years of life, saws get sharpened, planes get worked over and I "test" them. There is just something very enjoyable about making a piece of wood smaller with a hand plane, hearing the snick and seeing the shavings eject from the mouth of the plane with no goal other than hearing the snick and seeing the shavings eject.

Last night as I stumbled around the shop doing random clean up and placing tools back into their assigned storage spot I noticed a couple of Atkins panel saws that needed rehab. One was 16 TPI with "0" set and so dull it would cut soft butter, the other was 7 TPI crosscut with just enough set left you could, with help, figure out where to mark the teeth for setting and sharpening. You can guess which one I picked to sharpen.

It had a small "wave" in the tooth line which I for the most part worked out followed by setting, topping and shaping, there were a few cows and calfs. After a final sharpening pass and stoning the tooth line I took it to the wood. It did not disappoint, it sawed true and fast. I've gone from having only a "hard point" panel saw to now having two very good panel saws, one cross cut and one rip both with comfortable totes in addition to the hard point.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Atkins Panel Saw

Several years ago a guy came through town with a trunk load of tools and a story. The story was he needed gas money to drive home to Montana. I'm a sucker for both old tools and a good story, either would have worked for gas money. I ended up with close to 100 saws, a tool tote, and a suitcase full of saw totes and parts.

For the most part the saws spent the next couple of years in the way and being moved from place to place in the shop. Several months ago I started digging through the pile and separating out the keepers from the junk and parts saws. Among the keepers I found a couple of Atkins panel saws, one filed 16 TPI and one worth the cost of the whole lot of saws filed 11 TPI.

The 11 TPI saw has been in the saw vise for several weeks waiting for me to clean up the tool room enough to get to the saw vise. Today miracle of miracles I finished a path and found time to sharpen that sucker.

What a sweet saw. The tote is still rough but that is minor. I cuts fast and true.


And one of the cut line, you can't saw truer:

I wash I had sharpened it before I sawed the notch in the dovetail jig in the background. I've never learned to saw with a Japanese saw and as always the notch cut went off line. It's a shop appliance so not a big deal but.....  


The Woodworkers

A while back Lost Art Press published a two volume set of Woodworker Magazine's articles during the Charles H. Hayward years with the surprising title; "THE WOODWORKER: The Charles H. Hayward Years".  The contrast between the re-published articles and those of woodworking mags of today is chalk and cheese.

The books have been my bathroom reading for most of the last year. It is like having the best woodworking magazine always available and with no ads for the latest and greatest dovetail jig. A third volume should be shipping this month. The first two are on tools and techniques and the third will be about joints.

You can't go wrong putting any or all the books on your Winter Solstice gift list.

BTW, I made a new dovetail marking jig last night. The old one worked ok but was just a thin red one out of square. I will not know for sure if the new jig is dead nuts square until I use it but by every measure it is dead on.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Too Much Stuff

A week or so ago Andy over at Oregon Woodworker posted about culling his herd of bench planes. Ralph at the Accidental Woodworker wondered if Andy was coming down with something and I tried to sell him on buying another plane, the old one out one in thingy. Andy had a point, too much stuff just gets in the way of making things.

I'm lucky here in the desert there isn't much of a rust problem, if I had to do rust patrol my tool collection would be much smaller.

For sometime I've been trying to get rid of the truly unused tools with out a lot of progress although this week I did get rid of the last of the router bits and jigs. Problem is most of the stuff is very useable but not for the way I work. BTW, I will get to the point of this post.

Even tools for the way I work there are too many of 'em in the shop. There are planes out the kazoo, stuffed in every corner of the shop, in the plane till, the storage cabinet behind the joinery bench, and under every bench in the shop. I know some folks have it worse than I but..... and BTW, the chisels are another post.

The crazy part is eighty percent of the time I'm using one of four metal planes and/or one of the wood stock jack planes. The four are all type 13 or older Stanleys, I do have after market irons in them not because the thicker irons improve the plane but because it is hard to find good stock irons. The reason I reach for the old Stanleys is because the are light, it is the same reason I use the wood stock jacks. Light is good, with a light plane I can work most of the day. With a modern heavy plane I tire very quickly.

A photo of the four users, from left to right a #3, #4, #4 1/2, and a #5 sharpened as a jack:

The #3 and #4 are freshly sharpened and planed the White Oak like it was butter, the #4 1/2 and the #5 not so much. Gives me something to do tomorrow.

The plane till with mostly LN's:

We have truly been sold a bill of goods that heavy is better. That said, the new LN and LV planes are works of art and I like using them for quick jobs. I wish someone i.e. LN would make a modern Bailey pattern plane. Sigh, my guess it is not to be.

I guess the point of all this rambling is I admire folks like Andy that can keep their tool collection genes in check and even more someone that can sell off unneeded planes or chisels. To steal a line from David Bromberg when it comes to selling off tools I have one green eye and one red. It's "stop", "go", "stop", "go" with stop usually wining.


The National Hamburger of Texas

One of the advantages of living past your sell by date is the smallest thing can send you back in time and mostly, except for MsBubba, no one wants to lock you in the looney bin. Week tea I know but that's part of being older than dirt along with senior discounts and the Golden Eagle National Park pass.

Last night I needed to grab something to eat before show time. There is a Whataburger on the way and close to the Center. Most of the time it is just a quick in, eat a hamburger, and out in less than 15 minutes. Last night the time table held but soon I was back in, I believe, 1957 and remembering the first time I had a Whataburger. At that time I was a student in a San Antonio, TX boarding school, one of my fellow students, Bob Shoop, invited me to spend a long weekend at his home in Corpus Christi, TX. Bob's dad owned a large restaurant in Corpus but all Bob could talk about was having a Whataburger once we were in Corpus.

I was not disappointed, with the first bite it was like a Disney movie with blue birds singing and angels descending from on high. It doesn't happen often, in fact the only other time I can remember was my first visit to Mama Ninfa's on Navigation in Houston, TX.

A true quote from their web site "This is where it all started, where Mama Ninfa first stuffed chargrilled sliced beef into a handmade flour tortilla and launched the national fajita craze...". It wasn't just her Tacos Al Carbon but everything I had that night, the refried beans, the rice, it all had me licking the plate and wanting more. Shortly after that first visit Ninfa's was discovered and lines out the door stretched around the block. All good things, except Whataburger, end or are loved to death and Ninfa's is not the place it once was but for a few short years it was the best not just Mexican food but food you could find at any price. It was even better than K-Paul's in New Orleans.

Unlike many shops that expand, while today's Whataburger will no longer call down the angels or blue birds it has remained very true to the original.

Enough old farting. MsBubba's Mahjong box ain't the best....The Ebonizing of the White Oak lid and base is very pretty but it didn't play well with the glue and the Cherry box. Also I'm not sure the iron/acid will not stain the Mahjong tiles. It is back to the drawing board for the Mahjong box.

As it to big it,


Thursday, December 01, 2016

New Small Box

The rust it shows. The box parts shown in the T-Day post are history due to a mistake almost too dumb to admit. But what the hey, I can blame it on the three months spent in recovery....That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm sure none of you have marked and cut the pins on the the wrong side, like I said too dumb to admit.

The replacement box is almost finished (photos when done). This one is Cherry with a Ebonized White Oak slider top and base. Cherry is nice to work and beautiful when finished but, there's that damn but, at least for me it is hard to get perfect dovetails. I can almost never fit right off the saw, if I do they are either too loose or one or more will split. Even when I saw them tight and pare to fit, during the fitting process I tend to spilt at least one....This box was no different, I got a split, stop drilled it and used cyanoacrylate in the crack. I thought about making a new pin board and about painting to hide and rejected both. It is a utility box, MsBubba will not care if there is a crack, I'll bet she will never see it if I can keep my mouth shut, and it will have no effect on the strength of the box. That's also my story and I'm.....

Last Saturday we took the critters and the motorhome to Bisbee, AZ for the night. Bisbee is an old mining town 90 or so miles southeast of Tucson. On the way, about 20 miles west of Bisbee, you pass through Tombstone, AZ. Tombstone is more famous but Bisbee is a heck of a lot more fun.

The Bisbee RV park is on a hill overlooking the Copper Queen mine and a block or two from downtown Bisbee. Being a old mining town, set in a picturesque valley, Bisbee is a tourist magnet and full of "stuff to buy," ok cafes, and great bars, many with live music. Bottom line it was a great use of the motorhome and a wonderful way to spend a Saturday and Sunday.

Photos to follow....see you on down the road,