Monday, June 26, 2017

Loo's Side Table

Several weeks ago the girl child and hubby drove from Houston
to Tucson to visit and exchange their Honda Fit for our Dodge Cummins Diesel truck. They needed more truck, we needed a smaller "Toad" for the motorhome, sometimes things work out win win.

I was building a side table that had one of MsBubba's mosaics for the top as a Birthday present for Loo. I hoped to have it finished in time to go back to Houston with them but as usual I'm a little slow. The top was ready to go but I hadn't finished the base. We sent the top on home with the kids to be followed by the base once finished.

I put the first coat of Danish Oil on the base a couple of minutes ago and hope to go see my UPS girl in a couple of days. It will be good to get it out of the shop.

BTW, the mosaic top has a Sapele border and the legs are also Sapele. The aprons are some Cherry I had in the wood pile. It's not the best table I've made but.....

I thought I had a photo of the top but maybe not. Anyway here is the finished base.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lance Mannion and River View

Several days ago Lance Mannion posted this: "Felt my mortality weighing heavily on me this morning. Tried to keep the demons at bay by telling myself I could be around for another 30 years.  The demons laughed. What's the point of that? they asked mockingly. I had to grant them the point.

Thirty more years? Might be a pleasanter prospect if I and nobody I knew were going to age and things would continue on pretty much the way they are. Not a lot to look forward to as it is.  Not much I'm going to contribute with my persistent presence. I'm done. It's somebody else's turn. Don't want to die but not excited about living. Lately I've caught myself having fantasies that are influenced by Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld novels except that instead of dying and being reborn down river I'm reborn back upstream and wake up as my twenty year old self, a young hero with prospects again.

These were pre-dawn thoughts. As soon as it got light I got in the car and headed for McDonald's. We're up at the old Mannion Homestead for the weekend so I drove down to the river and had my coffee on the riverbank...

I don't see much point in living thirty more years. Or twenty. Or ten. But contemplating (the) view...With a good cup of coffee? Continuing on another day seems like a good idea."

The post spoke to me, I understand.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tomorrow is Juneteen

Tomorrow is Juneteen. In a just and meet world it would be celebrated along with the 4th. That is not, speaks to who we are.

attribution: screenshot Erica McCarthy

Detail from Ed Dwight sculpture at the Texas African-American History Memorial in Austin, Texas.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Back From Mexico

Back from Rocky Point and only 3 lbs. gained. Not too bad considering the number of tamales and tacos consumed. Have I posted that travel by Motorhome is the only way to go? Room for critters, food and drink at hand, and a head when needed, and most of all is the view. It doesn't get any better.

A view out the window on the way down between Tucson and Why. If you are a motorcycle LD Rider you probably know of Why, AZ. One of the bucket list rides is Why, Why Not.

What I love about roads in the Southwest is you can see the future, sometimes an hour or more ahead.

The view out the window in our camp site:

I call these two "Can't Anyone Play This Game:

One of the best parts of the whole trip I didn't get any photographs of. While floating in a protected area at low tide we ended up in the middle of close to a hundred feeding Brown Pelicans. Unlike White Pelicans which feed by herding bait fish into confined areas, Brown Pelicans feed by folding up their wings and diving into the school of fish from above. Catching a fish and at the same time scooping up a large amount of water. The pouch under their bill can hold up to three gal. of water along with the caught fish. After the dive the pelican will sit on the water with its head and bill down to drain the scooped up water before swallowing the fish. While all this is going on Gulls are in attendance hoping to steal the catch sometime standing on the pelican's back or head and pecking the pelican's bill. Cut to the chase: While feeding the pelicans could have cared less that we were in the middle of their feeding often diving within two or three feet of where we were floating.  This went on for hours, what a show. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chopping Mortises

I'm making a side table for the girl child, The top will be a frame and substrate to hold one of MsBubba's ceramic mosaics. The base is some near 8/4 Sapele I had in the shop.

The top is made, it just needs cleaning up and the legs are dimensioned but not shaped. The aprons are dimensioned waiting to saw the tenons once I finish chopping the mortises. I'm half way through chopping the mortises, two legs finished and two to go.

While chopping the mortises I thought about making a post about technique. My guess is everyone has either tried and discarded this technique or they are currently using it and it is no big deal because I have a history of riding the short bus. Anyway one of the problems I've always had with chopping mortises is keeping the hole straight. To fix that I've started knifing the reference mark, the one on the face side and then coming back and undercutting the knife line. This gives a nice "v" grove on the reference mark that give a positive stop for the mortise chisel. Angle the chisel slightly, drag it to the reference mark, when it stops stand it upright and square, give it a whack. Lever and repeat until you have removed everything that doesn't look like a mortise hole.

A couple or three photos, I don't know if you can see but click 'em to big 'em and whatever, one is of the mortise.

Knifing the reference mark.

Cutting the grove:

The mortise hole:

One other thing I happened to find today. My favorite pig sticker it turns out is 5/16", I never knew that. I just knew it was smaller than 1/2" and larger than the 1/4" which made it perfect for table leg mortises. I usually clean out the mortises with a LN 1/4" mortise chisel just because I don't worry about braking it and because it doesn't really need to be that sharp. Today I wanted a sharp chisel, in other words a bench chisel to clean up the ends of the mortise. Lot of luck bubba, out of the hundred or so bench chisel on the walls of the shop there is not one 5/16" chisel. As luck would have it the new Pfeil chisels I bought the other day had a 8mm in the set. 8mm is just a thin red one larger than 5/16"so all was not lost but damn you would think out of all those chisel there would be a couple of 5/16" ones somewhere. But no joy.

Off to Mexico tomorrow AM for a couple or three days of beer, beach, tacos, and watching the dogs swim and grin from floppy ear to floppy ear. It doesn't get much better.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Japanese Steel Porn

I've had three hand made high carbon steel Japanese kitchen knives for long enough to love 'em but a short enough time to still be amazed every time I use one . Like good Japanese chisels the knives are small works of art. They take a wonderful edge and feel good in hand with great balance and yet are very simple in appearance, ,almost looking unfinished compared to western knives.

A skilled blacksmith hand working high carbon steel can make magic. The cutter, chisel, plane iron, or knife produced can take and hold a cutting edge like no other. Every time I use one I break into a ear to ear grin.

The middle knife on the left is for slicing vegetables, the bottom right knife has a thicker blade and is used for de-boning and cutting heavier meats, and top right knife has a thinner blade and is for general purpose use but works very well slicing thin cuts from lighter meats such as fish.  BTW, how do you like the way I snuck into the photo three of my natural water stones. 

Last week when I was testing "sharpness" all three knives tested sharper than my best chisels, I can babble on but the only way to appreciate how good they are is to use 'em. After the first cut they no longer seem expensive. 

About the only downside is they take more care than the typical stainless steel kitchen knife. BTW, nothing wrong with a stainless steel kitchen knife, I use them every day but when I'm in the kitchen for pleasure the Japanese knives come out to play.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Pfeil Carpenter Chisels

As posted before I need more chisels like another hole in my head but....What can I say, the Pfeil chisels are very nice and at a good price point. To paraphrase Fabulous Frank, "Chisels will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no chisels", or something like that.

Of course when I made it home with the new chisels I had to re-arrange the chisel racks and find spaces for the new ones. The good news after much butt scratching and several test placements I found useable homes for all the chisels except for the crank-neck glue scrapper from Woodcraft. For now it will live in the center fill of the main work bench which is not a bad place for a beater chisel to call home. BTW, I can find many excuses to not make anything...Oh damn my chisels need re-arranging, that rocking chair will just have to wait.  Look squirrels!

Here is a photo of the behind the main workbench chisel racks. There are two more racks, one over the sharpening bench and the other on the wall over the jointer. They are all full.

If the rest of the Pfeil chisels work and sharpen as well as the 19mm "test" chisel, I expect they will be used interchangeably with the Ashley Iles chisels.

My downsizing of the shop, of course, is not going well, it seems I throw or give away one thing and two replace it the next day. I swear someday there will only be 10 lbs of stuff in the 10 lb bag, but it may take awhile. Right now the biggest problem with space in the shop is wood storage. I have some very nice wood stored but because without fail nice sized cutoffs (and some not so nice sized) end up on top of the stored wood I can not get to it with out moving, I will not say tons of cutoffs, but a bunch of cutoffs. With the way the back is acting up I need help getting everything organized and MsBubba has been off playing Grandmother and when she's home our work schedules do not match. Oh woe is me. Whatever, I expect there is a nice weenie roast in the near future.

One of the things I'm going to try is using 50 gal trash cans to hold shorter cutoffs. It probably will not work any better but what the hey it will at lest make it easy to move 'em to the fire pit.

See you guys on down the road,


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Photos of New Toy

I grabbed a paring chisel off the rack and tested it. Off the rack it tested to 330 grams. After sharpening on Spyderco brown and white stones it tested to 210 grams.

See photo:

After stropping on leather with 'green stuff' it tested to 160 grams:

I'm not sure how accurate either test was because I was holding the chisel with my left hand while shooting with the right but the numbers are in line with other tests.

Now the next question is: Is 150ish grams a good number or should I be working to lower it? So far 150 grams is the range I've found on different chisels with different steel, O-1, K-510, White Paper, and using different stones and freehand as well as jigged.

More fun with meaningless numbers to follow.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Toy

Well the new toy arrived but via USPS instead of the UPS girl.

The system is simplicity, a calibrated 'string' and scale to measure how much force it takes to cut the string. The unit I have has a 5 gram resolution, for a few dollars more you can have one with a 1 gram resolution. I figured 5 grams is close enough for my use. I haven't found anything on repeatability or range of error but with running several test on the same edge it seems to fall within a narrow range of results of about 5-15 grams difference maximum. Most of the time within 5 or 10 grams raw numbers.

The chart of "common edges" lists a double edge razor blade as taking 50 grams to cut the test string, a high end knife as needing 300 grams, and if it takes more than 400 grams the edge needs sharpening.

First the good news: Stropping with 'green stuff' on leather will lower needed force by about 40 to 50 grams. While it will take more tests to confirm, the type of stone makes little difference. I sharpened chisels from the same maker on Spyderco, Ark oil, and Shapton glass, all three before stropping took around 200 grams to cut the test string. And all three after stropping were in the 150 gram range.

Maybe the most surprising result was I ground one chisel on the Tormek to 25 degrees and then sharpened using the LN jig set for 30 degrees. While it was within what I suspect is the margin of error before stropping it took 20 grams more force to cut the test string than a chisel sharpened freehand on the same stone. After stropping the difference was 5 grams.

Will the toy make a difference in woodworking....not much but now I have a way to quantify sharpening technique. Is it better to strop, or not and gives a way to test longevity of different sharpening methods such as the same old question does a stropped edge last longer than one that is not.

I know what I've found and believe over the years but now I can put numbers to it instead of just 'because'. And maybe it will show me where I've been wrong as well.

Anyway bottom line a fun little toy and a lot cheaper than an ESM.

Sharpness Measuring

With woodworking tools the only measure that matters is: Does it pare, chop, cut wood as needed and leave a surface that works as intended. Ok that's out of the way, now on the the reason for this post.

There are so many variables in sharpening, oil stones, water stones, natural, man made, diamonds, sandpaper, strop with compound and without, leather, MDF, maple and on and on. Like many folks I have tried many of 'em and the eternal question is which works the best. The answer is usually: "It depends." Because the answer many times depends on what steel, O-1, A-2, PM-v11, D2, K-510, and more, as with stones the number is almost endless.

BTW, I will cut to the chase.  The other day I ordered an Edge-On-UP sharpness tester. I've not a clue if it will tell me anything but I figure it was worth taking a flyer on. At a minimum I hope it will settle the strop question and if it does it will be worth toting the note. What I'm also hoping is it will help determine if there is a difference in oil, water, and/or natural vs. man made, and jig vs. freehand. I expect the answer will at the end of the day still be....It depends.

Big expectations, the UPS girl should deliver it sometime today. Did I ever post photos of my UPS girl? Damn I know better but sometimes I can't help myself.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Toy box with a 'pull' on the lid, it is now out of the shop awaiting delivery:

Several days ago I posted about Pfeil Carpenter Chisels, as a follow up, as dumb as it is to add chisels to my chisel collection I ordered a full set of the Pfeil's. It is hard to get all "these are the best" over chisels but damn Pfeil hit the sweet spot with these chisels with every thing from the price point to how they feel in hand, to the steel of the blade. Of course bottom line is YMMV because chisels are so subject to personal preference but if you are looking to buy some bevel edge bench chisels, do yourself a favor and include the Pfeil's in your search. BTW, as much as I like the Ashley Iles' chisels I expect the Pfeil's will replace the AI's as my daily go to chisel.

This next is an Old Fart writing about his medical problems...Mostly so I have a record of when things happen. Pass on by if you find it as boring as I do.

For several weeks I've had very bad lower back pain, I'm pretty pain tolerant, as an example back in the '90's I worked and flew airplanes for three months with a broken jaw. BTW I thought that was bad pain but compared to the last couple of weeks it was a walk in the park. Anyway cutting to the chase the pain was so bad I spent Saturday afternoon in the ER because I couldn't wait until my scheduled Doc's appointment Monday. The pain meds and whisky just weren't doing the job anymore. The ER started some meds that relieved some of the pain, the Doc's appointment Monday brought good news. The odds are I will not need surgery, that the problem can be controlled with meds and PT.

Don't get old, it is literally a pain in the ass.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Kinda finished....needs a lid stay and a lid handle:

With the lid open:

With the lid closed:


Pfeil Carpenter Chisels

While at Woodcraft buying hinges for the peanut's toy box one of my friends that works there showed a new stock Pfeil bevel edge chisel. For some reason Pfiel is calling these chisels "Carpenter" chisels. Very strange, the chisels in this line are well thought out beveled edge bench chisels with a low chrome content steel blade and a very nice Ash handle. They are about as far from a "Carpenter" chisel as you can get. 

In my hand the chisel felt great, small, light, and well balanced. The Ash handle has a "grippy" natural finish. My friend stated he was thinking about buying a set and asked if I knew anything about them. Of course I knew nothing but the chisel felt good in hand and had IIRC K-5 something steel hardened to 60 RC (all information from my friend doing his homework). On a whim I picked up a 19mm to take home and give a run. 

Once home I sharpened it on a medium grit brown Spyderco stone followed by a white Spyderco polishing stone and a leather strop. It went quickly, the back was slightly hollow and the bevel was ground 25 degrees primary with 30 degree secondary. The white Spyderco gave a nice thin burr that came off with a single 'pull'. Both the back and bevel had a good polish even before stropping. After stropping the edge felt and looked sharp. I do not normally 'test' for sharpness but as this was a test I did. The chisel did a good job of paring both Pine and Oak end grain with ease leaving a smooth surface with no noticeable dulling of the chisel.

Last night I used the Pfeil chisel to chop and pare the hinge mortises for the peanut's toy box's lid. I have no use or need for more chisels but this line of Pfeil chisels are so nice and at a price point of around $40 USD I expect a few more will follow me home. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Grandpeanut's Toy Box

Is in the short rows. I've maybe one more coat of the 'Brick Red' undercoat before I start on the 'Federal Blue' final coats.

I love the look and feel of milk paint. Both Art (with a capital 'A') and craft need to show the hand of the maker. When it does not, is too perfect, it loses its soul and no mater how beautifully made I lose interest in it very quickly. A Old Fart's cultural reference....It is like looking at Sandra Dee vs. Sophia Loren. Ms Dee was very pretty but....Ms Loren moved your soul. Or maybe, if you are not a Dirty Old Man of a certain age, it is like looking at an Ansel Adams photograph vs. a Roy DeCarava photograph. One you think is very nice the other you can come back to forever. Art is like that, it should grab you and never let go.

Damn that was a tasty rabbit...As I was saying, Milk paint feels organic, it invites touch to feel the surface of the wood under it and as it wears, which it will, it exposes the paint and wood underneath. With milk paint the piece of work becomes more as it ages and is used.

A couple more days of painting, putting on the lid hinge and I can do the Omni, Omni, VOR over the toy box and move on to something else.

See you guys on down the road,


Sunday, April 30, 2017

More Saguaro

Ralph over at The wanted to see a better photo of the Saguaro's arm. I'm not sure this is much better but if you squint you can see the remaining mature arm, the new smaller arm with flowers, and even 4 or 5 budding arms.

Click it to big it.

We live just a few miles from Saguaro National Park so the big suckers are everywhere. Here is a photo looking West towards the Park.

If you look carefully you can see the bank of the gully is covered with Saguaros.

Many folks consider the Sonoran Desert the most beautiful desert in the world, I know it is one of the greenest deserts and to a old Texas river rat it is close to perfect with beautiful 'Sky Islands', Saguaros, Iron Wood, Ocotillo, and even the 'Jumping Cholla' is pretty if you stay away from it. The other thing about the Sonoran Desert is the amount and diversity of the wild life. 

BTW, everything in the desert is tough, as I have said often, in the desert everything sticks, bites, or stings and it will kill you if you do not respect it.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring In The Desert SW, My Saguaro Is Blooming

A couple of years ago I thought our Saguaro was history. The top and two of its arms had fallen off leaving just one arm. BTW a Saguaro will grow its first arm between 75 years and 100. This year I guess it has decided to live and has five new arms growing. The largest of the new arms started putting on flower pods last week and some opened this morning. Saguaros support a large number of desert critters with Gila Woodpeckers making nests inside the main body which many other birds use once abandoned. The fruit, pollen and nectar also support birds and insects as well as O'odham Native Americans.The Tohono O’odham tribes celebrate the beginning of their summer growing season with a ceremony using a fermented drink made from the bright red fruit to summon rains. Bottom line I love my Saguaro and I'm relieved it may survive.

Photos of the blooms:

Slow progress is being made on Levi's toy box. The progress is slow because of OF aches and pains, for the last couple of weeks my back has been killing me and I don't have Ralph's excuse of working under a kitchen cabinet. My story and I'm sticking to it, was back in the 80's I spent a month on a UPS contract hauling freight in a SA227 and I'm paying the price today.

In spite of the slow progress the peanut's box is almost finished. I just need to install the bottom and make the dust seal for the lid. Then paint the outside, oil the inside and deliver it when we see the grand peanut in Balmorhea, TX the week of the eight.

Here it is after finishing leveling the top and bottom:


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring Has Sprung and Passed On To Summer

I can't let Bob and Ralph have the last word on Spring, Ours hung around for a week or so and now we are into early Summer. The good part of Summer with hot days, cool nights and RHs in the single digits.

From watching The English Woodworker's videos I picked up a new tool. He sharpens a chisel with a 80 degree or so bevel turning it into a scraper chisel. All I can say is I wish I had know about doing that years ago.

I'm making a panel lid for the peanut's toy box and I can't express how much easier it is to fine tune the tenons to fit using the scraper chisel. I saw to fit and usually get pretty close but most of the time small adjustments are needed on some or all the tenons. Just like a scraper on a panel the scraper chisel takes off fine shavings leaving a great surface. Not that anyone will see them.

This will be a short post, Sam the Wonder Dog has decided I'm his pull toy this morning and when 110 lbs of dog pulls on your sleeve it's hard to ignore.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Working on Toy Box Lid

I had a couple of hours in the shop today. Some of the time was spent playing with different stones and different types of cutters. Only a sick puppy would do such a thing for fun....What can I say.

The results are always the same, oil stones and a strop will sharpen simple high carbon steel as well as any other system. It might not be as shiny and may even be a little slower time on the stones but when you add in the time prepping water stones it is a no brainer. I will not mention the water stone mess. The only system that give oil stones a run are the Spyderco stones.

In between sharpening I worked on the peanut's toy box lid. Rough dimensioning the center panel and the stiles and rails along with plowing the grove to hold the center panel.

Progress will be slow this coming week, no days off until after the 1st.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Have I told you lately

How much I dislike thick irons in planes? I have a LN #51 Shooting plane. It is a very good shooting plane and I was fortunate enough to have a O1 cutter in it. The other good thing about it is it doesn't need sharpening often and it needs a straight edge. If it did need sharpening more than every once in awhile I think I would pay someone to take it away. I can't imagine what it would be like keeping a A2 cutter sharp for the #51.

What brought this rant on was of course needing to sharpen the 51's iron last night. Even with a CBN wheel on the Tormek setting the primary bevel took forever. Damn there can be a lot of steel to remove. I had waited too long and didn't grind pass the wear bevel, so removing the burr didn't happen, I had to either go back and grind some more on the primary bevel or work some on the back. I decided to work the back then go back to the stones to redo the secondary bevel. Once that was done the burr came off with just a "pull" on the finish stone.

What should have been a 5 minute or less job, ended up taking most of an hour.

Now for the crazy guy yelling at you:

LV and Hock irons are "thick" as well but still much thinner than LN irons. The LN planes are a marvel of workmanship but I find I use them less and less just because of the thick irons. They are hard to shape and sharpen. LV and Hock iron can be used in LN planes but to do so requires modifying the adjustment prong and even though they are thinner they are still "thick" and harder to shape and sharpen. I would love to love the LV planes, I have one of the old style and one of the new style and they are both very nice planes but....there is that damn but....I have never mastered the iron adjustment, it just doesn't work for me, I have to remove my hand from the tote to adjust depth making it hard to do on the fly.

What I would like is a lite Bailey plane made to LN or LV standards with a modern but thin O1 cutter. I would pay the note to tote and I expect others would as well. Hell I'd be happy with just someone making good thin O1 replacement irons for Stanley planes. The best I've found are from Tools from Japan but they are not available in all sizes.

OK the meds are starting to work, I'll go back to the shop and shut up for now.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Shooting Board

The FedEx guy (not as good looking as the UPS girl) dropped off my new Evenfall Studios shooting board. While I haven't used it yet it looks to be first class. Rob was running a little behind on delivery because of illness in his family. Being the stand up guy that he is he upgraded my shooting board for no additional cost.

I haven't put it to use but here is a photo of the EvenFall next to my old shop made one:

Things change. I started this box to hold the charcoal grill for transport in the motorhome. And as usual I got a little carried away with the design and I've overbuild for intended use. As I looked at it I realized it was the perfect size to fit at the end of a twin bed and also close to the right height for a 3 to 5 year old boy to sit on.  Hummm....The grandpeanut will soon be 3 and he needs a toy box or at least gramps thinks he does. Anyway here it is with the lid, clean up, and paint left to go.

We are driving the motorhome to spend the weekend with the girl child, hubby, and the peanut in Balmorhea, TX the second week in May. I should have it ready to carry with us.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

'03 Dodge Truck

It may be time to sell my '03 Dodge Ram 2500 with the Cummings diesel. There is nothing wrong with the truck other than normal wear from 14 years of being a hard working truck. The reason I'm thinking of selling is with the motorhome I'm no longer pulling RV's and while the truck is set up to be a toad it really isn't needed and MsBubba's RAV4 would make a better toad. That's cold logic. But sometimes life isn't just about facts and reason.

Back in '03 my corporate flying job of the previous 20 years had gone south and I was flying LearJets for an Air Ambulance company and bemoaning my fate. That is until one morning I awoke to the realization I was having fun for the first time in ages and at the same time doing good. That the folks in the back, patients, family or medical crew had an appreciation for what the flight crew up front was doing.   

I was no longer worrying about finding a Wall Street Journal in Liberal KS before an early morning flight, or being sure the F.O. had picked up fresh milk for the coffee and not creamer or half and half. And of course the worse offense was if the FBO sent a "Limo" instead of a "Towncar" to meet the aircraft on landing. Working your way through, around, and over a line of Thunderstorms that stretched from Houston to Chicago and getting them to their meeting on time without sloshing or spilling their coffee with the fresh milk all over their Wall Street Journal was just expected but never forget the fresh milk. 

Enough of that, on to the story of the '03 Dodge Ram. I had dropped by the airport office to talk to Travis about the next day's flight, he mentioned that a new flight nurse would be working the back with him and Arturo would be my F.O.. A small digression, at the time I had been single for some time, working with The Houston Center for Photography and on its board of directors, and I had a few friends "with benefits" along with my flying job. In other words having a really good life in a wonderful city to be single in.

While Travis was talking in walked the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was in the B&C flight uniform of black pants and a red pullover with the Air Ambulance logo, topping it all was this wild mop of curly blonde hair. Travis introduced us and said Pat would be flying with us tomorrow. On the next day's flight there wasn't much time to visit but we, Pat and I, did get a few moments to talk. We had a few more flights together, on each I could see how wonderfully kind and caring Pat was with the family and patient. It went along this way for a month or so. Most of the flights for B&C Aviation were out and backs with only an occasional RON (remain overnight). The average flight would have a little time for the crew to visit while waiting for the ambulance to deliver the patient and family but not a lot. 

We had a flight to Reno to pick up a patient for delivery to Florida, he was going home to die. Because of duty time limits we had to position the Lear in Reno the night before and get our required "Rest" before flying from Reno to Florida. The crew was the same as the first flight Pat and I did together, Travis in back with Pat and Arturo up front with me.  In Reno we had a normal “crew dinner” afterwards Pat and I walked around the hotel and casino getting to know each other. Our good night at her room’s door was a little awkward.

Once back in Houston we talked a couple of times and finally made a date for dinner. At the time I had a Chevy Work Truck, a great truck but a little noisy. Driving to dinner and home I couldn’t understand a word Pat said, the noise from the truck, my years of sitting between airplane engines, Pat’s soft voice and Scottish accent made understanding what she said impossible.  What to do, what to do…..My usual answer, throw money at the problem. The next day I went truck shopping and came home with the Dodge.

A long way around to why I’m having a hard time selling the Dodge, it has been too much of our life together. It moved us from Houston to McMinnville and to Tucson. It has pulled our pull behinds and 5th wheels all over the West. It will be like losing a good and faithful friend. Without the Dodge there may have never been a MsBubba.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts On The Shop and Sharpening

Small changes to the shop can make big differences in functionality. One of the greatest has been lowering the secondary bench and moving it off the wall into a central location in front of the main work bench. Several other changes have helped as well, the major one was moving the Moxon vise off what is now my planing and assembly bench to the back side of the main bench. All the changes effectively give much more room to work and things are set up for minimum monkey motion.

Here is a photo of the current set up:

Click it to big it.

That is a new pine box on the assembly bench, this has been the first use of pine in ages. I had forgotten how pleasant it is to work. 

The sharpening bench is off the left end of the main bench, convenient to both benches. Speaking of sharpening, Ralph over at "The Accidental Woodworker" has been exploring some sharpening issues and I have been  kibitzing from the sidelines. That of course has me thinking about sharpening, it doesn't take much because I'm one of those weird ducks that enjoys the process and sharpens to relax and for enjoyment. It takes all kinds, what can I say. 

First I think what got Ralph started was watching the sharpening series The English Woodworker is publishing. If you have any interest in having sharp tools the videos are some of the best I've seen. That could be because Richard validates all the things I've learned and/or suspected over many years and lots of money spent on stones and gear. 

For what is worth here are my thoughts: If you are physically able, freehand sharpening is easier, quicker and better than using a jig. If you must use a jig a grinder to set the primary bevel is a near necessity and then the jig can set the secondary bevel. All of this is unnecessary work for an edge that is not as strong nor as flexible in use as free handing and requires frequent returns to the grinder. 

Free hand is so quick and easy my irons are never dull, a short step to the sharpening bench a couple or three strokes on the stones and/or the strop and I'm back to work. There is never a backlog of irons that need sharpening.

Any stone that removes metal can give a sharp edge but the quality of that sharp edge depends greatly on the scratch deep and how random. Shine doesn't mean shit, you can have an iron that will blind you with shine and it can't cut warm butter.

Natural stones, Arkansas oil or Japanese water will give superior scratch patterns, random and with rounded walls while man made and diamond stones leave steep walls and ordered scratch patterns. 

A strop will strengthen the edge as well as leave a polish.

I currently use a two stone system for day to day sharpening. A course (med. India or Washita) and a fine Arkansas (Translucent or Hard Black) along with a leather strop. It doesn't happen often but if I want the best edge possible I will go to the Japanese natural water stones.  

And last for now: There is no need to test an edge, if it feels sharp and looks sharp it is sharp. All testing does is begin the dulling of the iron that you worked to sharpen.  

As always with anything wood, YMMV.

See y'all on down the road,



Monday, April 03, 2017

Maggie's Rock

MsBubba, Sam the Wonder Dog, Sweet Maggie Dog and I spent the weekend on Tucson's Beach aka Rocky Point, MX.  As always a great way to get away, Good WX, clear sea, and I even allowed myself a couple of beers with some tacos.

Best of all Maggie found her "rock". Maggie will try to fetch anything that is thrown including rocks. MsBubba was walking along the shore with Maggie and occasionally chunking a rock into the sea. Maggie would chase it, dig at it when found, and then they would repeat the game. This went on for several iterations until on one of them Maggie found her "rock" while digging in the sea for the thrown rock. She dove underwater picked up her "rock" and carried it to MsBubba's feet to be thrown.  After playing this game for awhile MsBubba distracted Maggie and they went on walking along the water's edge leaving Maggie's "rock" under water. When returning, as they approached the area where MsBubba left the rock, Maggie dove underwater and retrieved her "rock" dropping it at MsBubba's feet.

Only one thing to do, bring the rock back to the motorhome and keep it. The rock is now back in Tucson with us, I weighed it this AM and it weighs in at a healthy 10 lbs.

A photo of Maggie and her rock:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

More on Shop Changes

I worked on the new bench for several months until I found the perfect slab of Beech for a apron. Here is a photo of the newly added apron turning my bench into what I like to call "my cross Chanel" bench or English/French bench. It works so well when I turned the older bench into a planning bench I added an apron to it as well.

The shop stayed reasonably stable after building the current work bench until I decided to turn the second bench into a planning bench and moved it off the wall to a central location. Here is a photo of the current arrangement. 

Looking South with current bench in foreground and planning bench in background. South of the planning bench arranged close to the door are the machines with the exception of the jointer to the right of the bench and a small lathe in the "tool room" aka Fibber McGee's closet. 

BTW, a sure sign you are too old to live is when folks no longer understand your cultural references. The other day one of the crews I was working with did a near perfect 45 degree bank steep turn, never losing or gaining a foot of altitude. In the old days before "glass" as a sign of respect and acknowledgement of the pilot's skill you would ask the co-pilot to tap the altimeter to see if it was stuck or broken.  I let it slip out and both pilots looked at me like I had two heads, as if to say "what is this old coot talking about, why would we do that".

Damn that was a tasty rabbit....back to the shop. The jointer is to my right and the sharpening bench is to the left, just off the working end of the primary bench. behind the primary bench is the tool chest and on the wall the open tool cabinet, saw and plane tills, and chisel racks. 

Notice the martini centered on the bench, work was over for the day. You can see through the door part of the tool room.

Next job is to cull the herd, of course I've been saying that for several years and it ain't happening. Anytime one tool leaves it is replaced by three.