Friday, October 20, 2017

Going To Tucson's Beach

The motorhome is packed, the toad has the kayak on top and snorkel gear inside, all that is left to do is grab a couple of toothbrushes, hook the toad to the motorhome and we will rock and roll on down the road to Mexico for several days of relative debauchery. When you are our age putting two Splenda's in your morning tea counts as debauchery.

The dogs will swim their hearts out, MsBubba will walk the beach, I'll have my tamales for breakfast and depending on who parks next to us maybe make some new friends and tell a few "there I waz with one burning and one turning" stories. I may even have a single malt or two while watching the Brown Pelicans flying to roost at sunset.

We are going to be in Mexico for more than the weekend so the toad is going with us. Most of the time we never leave the RV park if staying for just a couple of days so the toad stays home.

The Reef (the RV park) has everything needed, a good Beach Sports Bar, a better than average Italian Restaurant, Roberto brings me tamales and breakfast tacos every morning, a propane delivery truck if I need gas, guys to wash and wax the motorhome for almost free, and best of all a parking spot on the beach not 100' from the sea. It doesn't get better. 

A photo from one of our trips:

See you guys next week,


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Bad Axe Saw

The UPS girl dropped off a new Bad Axe saw today. It is a beauty, a D-8 clone. I'm such a sucker for bing but damn it is pretty.

The motorhome has been in the shop fixing a few squawks from the PNW trip. I'll pick it up in the AM to ready it for our Friday trip to Mexico. I'm ready for a few days on the beach with the dogs and MsBubba. It should be good.


Alan Peters' 140 Trick

Ralph over at The Accidentalwoodworker had some questions on using a 140 block plane to do the "140 Trick". It gives me a reason to post something so here goes:

Using a #140 Block plane to make a shallow rebate on the back of the tail board is called the 140 trick. I'm sure it was done before Alan Peters used it but he popularized it.

The reasons the 140 Block plane works so well is two fold, the side plate is removable exposing the slewed cutter and it has a fence. The plane has a nicker as well which I do not normally use. Here is a photo of my 140 with the side plate removed and, I doubt you can see it, the cutter extended a thin red one pass the side of the plane.

I will normally use a TiteMark wheel gauge to mark the base line because the 140's fence will register on the board's end as does the TiteMark.

Setting the TiteMark. after gross setting I will give the micro-adjuster an 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn clockwise to deepen the baseline. I like the pins and tails to be slightly proud. 

Next is deepening the base lines. I do this "freehand" with a marking knife.

Set the fence so the cutter just touches the near edge of the base line mark.

Take a couple or three passes until the rebate "looks about right".

Mark and cut your tails however you would normally cut tails. After the tails are cut, set the tail board on the pin board and aline the reference edges with a chisel. Mark your pins and if nothing moves and you saw and chisel correctly you should have a near perfect dovetail joint.

As always click 'em to big 'em.

I hope this helps with the 140 Trick,


Monday, October 16, 2017

Can't Sleep. Time in the Shop

Some times sleep does not come easily. I've not a clue why some nights the magic works and others it doesn't other than age. I've learned to not fight it, just get up and go find something to do. Sometimes it is computer time but most of the time I go to the shop. That is one of the big advantages of doing mostly hand tool work, for the most part it is just me and the dogs and MsBubba sleeps through. Tonight it didn't work that way so all of us are awake.

I still can't do any heavy lifting so about all I can do is cut a few practice dovetails and sharpen some irons. Here is a photo of one of the practice joints tonight. I used a Cypress cutoff out of the scrap bin. Cypress is a nice wood to work except it is soft like pine and dents and chips easily. You can't tell much from the photo but there was a little nasty bit left in one of the tail sockets and that tail did not completely seat. If it were anything other than what it is I would pull it apart and get rid of whatever is holding the corner of the tail off the base line.

I've all but the 1 1/2" Marple chisel in useable shape and used them for both paring and chopping tonight. They are really sweet chisels. Shame almost no one today is making good hammer forged chisels and no one is making delicate firmer chisels like the older Marples.  The only hammer forged chiselsI know of are Barr, Ashley Iles, and most Japanese chisels. While I expect the Barr chisels are wonderful chisels they are too big and clunky for my taste. Ashley Iles chisels are very good and a real bargain, I just wish they were available in a firmer style.

It's time to grab a quick bite and then see if sleep will come.



Quick Surgery Update

It is five days post-op and all I can say is it's wonderful. There is no pain, just a very slight tightness in the area of the incision and the legs, while still weak, also are pain and cramp free.

I wish it hadn't taken so long to get here but that is the way the medical system in the States works.


Stanley #39 Dado Plane

Bob B. who is an occasional reader of my blog (he mentioned Ralph's as well) was kind enough to offer one of his Marple chisels to fill in a gap in my collection.  He mentioned in his email that he was trying to collect one of each of the Stanley planes and how it might be an impossible job. I must say I expect he is correct. I have an example of most of the type 9 bench planes but I'm far from having a complete set of type 9's. In reality I have no hope of ever completing the collection and that is just one type of bench planes.

Anyway it got me to thinking about some of my rust and if any would fill in the gaps of a Stanley tool collection. The most likely candidate is a Stanley #39 I got several years ago in a box of rust from a fellow needing gas money to go home. I know there is a sucker born every minute but what can I say other than I like a good story even if it is BS and we both know it. BTW, IIRC there were several usable planes in the box, several of which I gave to other local woodworkers and a few I kept like the #39.

Here are some photos of the #39:

Bob D. this should be in your wheel house. Did anyone really use one of these to make dado's? I would think a couple of knife lines, a saw, and a router plane would do a better and I expect a quicker job.

Friday, October 13, 2017

747 Super Tanker

I worked for the now bankrupt Evergreen Aviation back in the day when the 747 Supper Tanker was under development. A Colorado company bought the rights to the airplane and now it has been deployed to fight the CA fires. Just yesterday while MsBubba and I were having morning coffee and tea we talked about, or at least I did and I think MsBubba listened you know how it is after many years together and one partner builds clocks when asked the time,  how CA should be using the 747.

The 747 can drop all or part of 20,000 gal of liquid per load, water or fire retardant, about twice as much as the nearest large tanker a converted DC-10. Some of the advantages of the 747 are the precision of its drops, how in effect it is a large crop duster, the dump comes out in drops and will not damage people or things on the ground, it can get to the fire zone at over 500 kt. and is under landing weight with a full load of retardant or water. I could go on building the clock but not this time.

Anyway it is good to see someone rescued the Super Tanker and CA. is using it.

It is palm meet forehead time. Seems the older I get the more often it happens. During the first part of recovery from surgery I'm not to lift anything over 10 lbs. It's pretty limiting as far as shop time so I dug through the scrap pile, not moving anything over 10 lbs. I swear, for something to use in making a spoon.

I carved out a bowl that I was pretty happy with and then started getting rid of wood that was not part of a spoon using a saw and chisel. Now I have a good 18" band saw setting not five feet from the right end of the main work bench. I bet you can tell where this is going, I had to do just one more split going toward the bowl before turning the blank around....Palm meet forehead.

I have some more of the blank left and a good band saw next to the bench. Back to the spoon making today.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two More Marple Chisels

It is a sickness, once started it is almost as hard to stop as smoking and booze. I've two more early Marple Firmer chisels "in the mail". This time a 1/4" and a 3/8" both are duplicates but one will replace a round necked (later year) chisel. So I do have a little excuse....."My name is Ken and I'm a.....".

I'm teaching myself to sharpen on JNATS and have been for years and as always it is/has been interesting. Sometimes I ask myself "why bother?" BTW, if I post something that is incorrect please correct me however you feel most comfortable, email, reply in the comments, it makes no never mind. I have thick skin and learned many years ago that ego is nothing but trouble. On to the chase..

What I find the biggest difference is the wire edge. On Ark stones it comes up easily and is easy to see and feel.  JNATS not so much. The wire edge tends to be much smaller and because of that harder to see and feel. I'm still training myself on that one.

In truth either type stone will get you to pretty much the same place of "working sharp" in about the same time and hassle on like steels and I would bet in a blind test even the most sensitive craftsman would have a hard time beating random.

I guess then the question becomes....Why? I'm not sure I have a rationale answer. I can fall back on gobby gook, art speak, or what have you, while trying to pack sand up your ass but the bottom line is "because".

Some of the reasons I can give but do not hold water are: JNATS have a finer random scratch pattern than you are able to get with an Ark stone. True but so? Does it make a rat's ass when metal meets wood?

Ralph will like this one: I can get a better mirror finish with a JNAT vs. An Ark stone. Which is true until you bring strops on board and.....Wait for it...Some of the most prized JNATS do not leave a mirror polish but instead a slight haze.

As a artist I've always been attracted to imperfection, to seeing "the hand of man" in a body of work. Perfect is boring. Several of my most prized JNATS are about as imperfect as a stone can get and still be useable. That may be as good an answer as any.


P.S. JNAT stones are/can be a sickness as well, too damn many slippery slopes out there calling my name and not a mast to lash to.

P.P.S. I've a Bad Axe D-8 clone in the mail....Damn all my weaknesses are on full display. The only things missing are planes.


Thanks guys for all the well wishes. For now the title says all that is needed. I'm home and as best I can tell all went well. There is some feeling of pressure in my lower back that the happy pills are taking care of. All the numbness of my lower legs and feet is gone. For the first time in months I can walk  with a normal step and stride. I'll take it easy for a couple of weeks but it is time to get back in the shop and do something interesting.

Once more.....Thanks guys,


Monday, October 09, 2017

Marple Chisels

The biggest change in Marple chisels other than owners, place of manufacture, and of course quality as the years passed was going from hammer forged to drop forged. As best I can tell drop forged chisels begin showing up in the '30s and by the '50s most of the chisels were drop forged with maybe the exception of firmer chisels.

I have some of both hammer and drop forged. Other than the hammer forged having square necks vs. drop forged round necks the only other visual clue is the ferrel. The hammer forged ferrel is defiantly brass on the drop forged chisels I'm not sure because it has a strange color and stays shinny with little or no aging.

A photo of the two styles. The top and bottom chisels are hammer forged with square necks, the middle two are later chisels with round necks.

At this time most of my chisels are the earlier hammer forged (three drop forged) and as I can find replacement chisels for the round neck ones I will hopefully end up with all early chisels.

What strange folks we tool collectors can be. The quality of both in use is about the same (maybe all my round neck ones are from the early years of drop forging) but I want all square necked chisels or at least a complete set. Then in use I will probably use both interchangeably.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Three more days till the back is fixed, sleep and productivity are in short supply. Pain meds and whisky are the order of the day. With careful calibration of whisky intake the days pass with reasonable comfort.

Lately the highlight of the day is pool time with MsBubba. Yesterday MsBubba asked for a Martini with our pool time.....Of course I had to join....Big mistake, with Martinis there is no careful calibration. I remember making the second Martini but not much after other than waking up in bed with all my clothes on a little after 2100. The good news it helped with the sleep problem but screwed the productivity. The same mistake will not be made today.

On the productivity side while not much is getting done I'm in the shop and putzing around most days. My thoughts are the pain is there whatever, sitting, standing, in bed, whatever I'm doing so I might as well do something I enjoy. The downside is I'm a little more dingy than usual. Yesterday was a case in point.

Most of the time I use the Alan Peters "140 trick" when making dovetails. Yesterday I was working on a small box, the sides were from some nice Sapele scraps and being dingier than usual I forgot to make the small rabbet with the 140. Being still dingier I thought "hey Bubba that ain't no problem I'll just 140 the tails and go on down the road". Need I go on? I'll put it this way, one of the corners may have a very large half pin next to a very small tail if I can pull it off. If not there is always the fire pit.

Here is a photo:

BTW, I've been down most of the technique trails for alining tail boards with pin boards for marking the pins. Everything from the jig David Baron makes, to a special square, to just doing it by eye and let the devil take its due.  Of all, the 140 trick works the best with the least amount of monkey motion.

On to other things. I've been trying to put together a "full" set of vintage Marple Firmer chisels with Boxwood handles. The two missing chisels are a 3/4 and a 5/8. The post delivered the 3/4 yesterday, just the 5/8's to go.

I know chisels are personal but what's not to like about thin blades of good steel with near perfect balance. The closest I can find in current production are the Sorby beveled edge bench chisels with Boxwood handles. Something is screwed up with current tool marketing with almost no one making firmer chisels and the few that are made are heavy, clunky, and un-balanced. Even most beveled edge chisels in production have too thick blades and are uncomfortable to use. Paring chisels are the same story if you can find 'em. While the complete line of Sorby chisels also has some duds their paring chisels are nice, I just wish they were available in firmer style as well as beveled edge. I expect several Sorby paring chisels will be added to the chisel till to supplement the Japanese paring chisels.

Three more days of this happy horse shit and I hope life will get back to what passes for normal.


P.S. Just back from working the back of the 3/4 chisel, miracles do happen it was damn near flat.  And I sawed the messed up tail on the box board. Who knows, things may work out if I'm careful when fitting the pins.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

West Texas Farm Boy

I grew up on a West Texas dirt farm. The farm was about 13 miles North of Big Spring, Texas and from almost the get go of remembrance I had guns and hunted many times a week. Most of the game was cooked  and added to what ever else was on the table. Once a teenager I would join my Dad's annual company sponsored hunting trip to either Utah or Colorado. Guns and hunting were just a part of life and even to this day some of my most pleasant memories are of those trips, of being outdoors, in the mountains on beautiful Fall days and of sitting in the cook tent at night playing card games and telling lies with friends and family.

Somewhere along the way I begin to change and  I slowly started becoming uncomfortable with killing living things to the point of protecting most household pests, of finding ways to remove instead of squashing. People can and do change.

A long way around to my finding the fact that in the States, this year, we have had almost a mass shooting every day of the fucking year, the last one over 50 souls in KLAS. I am physically and mentally sick and ashamed my country can't get its shit together and confront the gun lobby with common sense gun control laws. That should be the first step but not the only one it will take longer but we also need to find and root out the sickness that works with freely available guns and leads to killing for no other reason but killing.


P.S. I will not engage trolls and their straw man arguments. If you have something constructive to say I would love to hear it.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Time to Fix the Back

I visited the Neurosurgeon yesterday, he gave the right answers and MsBubba approved of both he and his answers so I'm booked to be fixed on the 11th. Which brings to mind the Far Side cartoon of the dog in a car going to the Vet to be "tutored".

It will be day surgery with a couple of bandaid sized incisions and a one to six week recovery period. Now I'm like a kid waiting on Christmas, time can't pass fast enough.

Work is crazy right now....So what else is new....It is busy season and one instructor just went down to a horse related injury, so not much wood working between now and the 11th. At best shop organizing and clean up, though I do have the stock sized and ready to cut the joinery for a couple of small boxes.

I just received C.S.'s The Anarchist's Design Book. I haven't had the time to browse through it but when I came home from work yesterday MsBubba had left it open on the Aumbry chapter. Subtle is not her long suit.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Changed Sharpening Bench

A bittersweet moment in the shop. Yesterday for the first time since I first started working wood my small bench is no longer in the shop. I'm not sure what will be done with it, could be a table for MsBubba's studio, or maybe convert it into another bar counter for the back garden, even put out front for a new life with someone else. Whatever it has been replaced with the traveling work bench sans leg vise.

The sharpening bench ne travel bench has a little more real estate to work with with about the same footprint, It should be a slight improvement....Just enough for a blog post but not much more :-).

BTW, I've converted all my stones to using water with a touch of soap as a lubricant. With the exception of the "India" stones they all seem happy. This way I can grab any stone and use it without worrying about oil contamination of my JNATs or man made water stones.

I will start a new travel bench build soon.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Home Again Home Again

It was a good vacation, not too many squawks on the motorhome, the WX in Northern CA. was perfect with temps in the 60F to mid 70F range and the only rain was as we were leaving Ft. Bragg. It couldn't have been better except for the fires and smoke in Oregon keeping us in North CA.

The portable bench worked well and I had almost all the tools needed, not bad for a proof of concept trial.

Waiting for me at the local USPS office was a box of Boxwood handled Marple chisels, most were firmers. I'm missing a 5/8" and a 3/4" for a full set. The chisels are in good shape but.....damn that but, the UK sellers sure do like their belt sanders to make the chisels pretty for selling. I spent almost an hour on the back of the 1" chisel last night and I still have some more to go before it is flat. I'd pay twice as much if they would forget the dressing up for the sell.

Anyway here is a photo of the Marple chisels on hand. Now to find some where to keep 'em. For now the only answer is some of the little used chisels will have to go in a box or drawer and the Marple chisels will take their place in the back of bench chisel till.

I would like to end up with a full set of Marple's firmer and beveled edge chisels and a selected set of their paring chisels but I'm not sure I have the patience for the chase.

I've an appointment with a Neurosurgeon on the 28th. to see about fixing my back. I had plans to wait until after the first of the year but with the way things are going I expect I will take the first open time. Whisky and pain pills are no way to live life. Once again apologies for an OF's medical ramblings but this is my way of keeping track of what is happening in my life.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Blogger Did Some Strange Formatting

As the title says and working on a iPad I'm not going to try and correct.


Traveling Tools

Bob asked "What was in my tool box?" At the risk of boring everyone and spending all day one finger typing on a iPad here goes:

In no order other than kinda how they ended up on the bench:
Bench hook, made after arriving at the RV site.
2 doe's foot, one made at the RV site.
2 Kreg plastic dogs.
LN bench brush.
#5 with cambered iron.

Here is the list of tools in the tool box. I've used most of them or have plans to.

#3 with smoothing iron.
ECE Rebate plane.
LV Large Router Plane.
LV Med Router Plane.
LV Carcass saw,  rip and crosscut.
LV Large Tenon saw, rip and crosscut*.
Plow Plane with ¼" cutter.
LN Small Rabbit/Block Plane.
LN Block Plane.
400 Atoma with stone holder**.
Med India in holder/box.
Hard Black Ark in holder/box.
Oiled hard leather strop.
Chisel Roll with ¼" to 1" A. Iles chisels, Wheel gauge, and LV Spokeshave.
6" Double Sq.
12" Combo Sq.
75mm Combo Sq.
LV Saddle Sq.
LV 1:8 Dovetail Marker.
2 Small Dividers.
150mm Steel rule.
5 Meter Tape.
Bird cage awl.
LV Winding Sticks/Straight Edge.
Small Box of Drill Bits.
¾" Foster Bit.
2 Marking Knifes.
Parrallel Guide Pin.
Pencils and Markers.
2 Holdfasts
2 Hammers***.
Danish Oil.
6 Light F Clamps.
10X Lope.
Sanding Block.
¼" Wood Shim
26" Stanley Hardpoint Saw and 240mm Ryoba (not in photo).
Spirit Level.
Mortise Pin Gauge****

*May not keep in tool box for the next trip.
**Stone.Holder is not needed.
***one hammer is a RV hammer but will add a small Plane hammer.
****On order from Amazon, I can't believe I forgot to pack one.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wood Working In A RV Park

While working, folks will drop by to see what I'm doing but really not many more than is normal for any activity outside the RV.

The work is back to the basics because of limited tool set and of course tools that should have been packed but missed the boat. Such as a marking gague, how that happened I haven't a clue. Amiazon of course came to the rescue....sort of.  I'll cut to the chase as much as I can but being me some back story will be included.

I have a dislike of cheap knockoffs of someone's original design. If you developed the tool you should benefit from the sale of the tool. There is a cheap knockoff of the Titemark, looks the same, made of brass, and is about $60USD cheaper on Amazon. The problem is I can get next day delivery from Amazon, not from Titemark. So I let need override scrupules and ordered from Amazon.

There is good news and bad, I'm not sure which is which but.....It works about the same as a Titemark except it will not hold the setting unless you go all Conan on the lock screws.  For some reason that pleases me.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Posting Photos From An iPad

Let's see if I've figured this or is technology still kicking my ass. A couple of photos of the RV and work bench.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On The Road

Or maybe that should be in the Casper Beach RV Park just South of Ft. Bragg CA.

I set the bench up last night and even sawed a dovetail or two along with sharpening some iron. The bench works like a champ.

I can't get the photos to load, they do over on to follow when I can.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Marple Chisels

I have a bad jones for Marple firmer or bevel edge chisels with boxwood handles. The London pattern handles are nice as well but the simple straight Boxwood handles tickle my chisel G-spot.

Anyway I've been on a quest to find some in good shape and having some luck. Here is a small 1/4" firmer that showed up a few days ago pictured with some other bench chisels to give an idea of size and differences. From top to bottom are a Narex firmer, a modern 750, a Swiss Made Carpenters chisel, the Marple 1/4" firmer with Boxwood handle, and a LV PM v11. The first photo is of the chisels in profile view and the second in plan view.

I've several more Marple Boxwood handled chisels on the way, I expect they will arrive while we are in Oregon. They will be a nice 'welcome home'.

BTW, I get a shot in the spine tomorrow to relieve some of the pain. If it works as advertised it should take care of most of the pain until I'm back in Arizona...Surgery to follow. 

We leave for Ft. Bragg, CA Saturday morning then after a couple of days in Ft. Bragg on to Brookings, OR for a few days and then working our way up the coast. The Motorhome has a full load of whisky and wine with food filling every cabinet, even a few beers in the Fridge, DVDs and Sat Dish ready and bench and tool box loaded. It should be a good trip. 


Monday, August 28, 2017

Portable Work Bench and Toolbox Loaded

The tool box isn't filled yet but I wanted to see how everything would fit. It does very well leaving good room to carry other needed "stuff".

On the PAX side bin I have the toolbox, the two legs, chop and parallel guide, and the vise backer board.

The driver side bin has the slab, tool tray, stretchers, and in the wire basket wrapped in a towel is the screw.

I wasn't too worried about the fit because I measured carefully but you never know for sure until you fit it in. It fits :-).

Now to fill the tool box and we will be ready for Oregon.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Japanese Style Tool Box

The last item to be finished of the portable workshop is the tool box. I finished cleaning it up last night, as much as it will be "cleaned up" it is a tool box don'tchknow, and put a coat of Danish Oil on the outside. Today comes the hard part....Deciding what tools to take. Too many and the tool box becomes unwieldy and too heavy to be "portable", Too few and either the "work arounds" take the pleasure out of making or even the project becomes dead in the water.

The list leads off with a couple of planes, I expect a #3 and a #5 with two cutter sets. A chisel roll with 1/4" through 1" plus at least one paring chisel. A couple or three saws, I have not decided between Japanese or Western, there are advantages to each. Marking stuff, squares, knifes, winding sticks, tapes, rules, and so on. Rabbet plane, plough plane, router plane....Anyway you get the idea. A couple of bench appliances like a bench hook also need to find a place as well.

Of course all this may be unnecessary because the bench and tool box may end up being a table and accessory to hold the whisky glass every evening .

Anyway here are a couple of photos of the tool box, click 'em to big 'em:

With lid open and tool tray:

See you guys on down the road,


Saturday, August 26, 2017

First Project on The Travel Bench

I had to find space in the shop last night to give it a go before packing the bench away in the Motorhome. I can't tell you how impressed I am with the bench. Because the slab is only 50mm (2") it is different than my French/English bench with a 100mm (4") slab but not in a particularly bad way, it just has a different feel. I went through most bench operations while making the tool tray for the Japanese style tool box. It worked perfectly, rock solid and stable for all operations. I even enjoyed the leg vise, I've never been a leg vise fan but the wood screw makes it work well. Here are a couple of photos of how I left the bench last night. BTW, not a lot of open floor space in my overcrowded shop, this was about the best I could find.

The tool tray is waiting my picking up a piece of 1/4" plywood for the bottom so it can be glued up. Once that is done it will be time to put together a tool kit. I do not want too many tools but too few is just as bad. I figure a #5 and a #3, a chisel roll (1/4 through 1" and a paring chisel), a panel saw, two back saws (may replace the Western saws with a couple of Japanese saws), mallet, squares and marking tools, a set of bits, the cordless drill is already in the Motorhome's tool bin, winding sticks/straight edge, sprit level, two Ark stones and a strop, a couple of tapes and 6" rules, two hold fasts, on the fence are a plough plane, a block plane of some sort and a spokeshave.

I expect I will drill a couple of 3/4" holes in the hind leg for hold fast storage and then it is finished for now.

Here is the bench as I found it this morning:

One more from the other end:

I expect we will be on the road heading Northwest by Friday. Bridger may ride with us as far as ClearLake CA.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Deep, Short, Narrow Mortises

I know, I know, I'm a little weird but I enjoy chopping mortises most of the time. I find a Zen like state.....tap, tap, lever, tap, tap, lever, repeat until everything that does not look like a mortise is removed. I can do the eight or sixteen needed for a table almost as fast as they can be done by machine. The one exception is a short, narrow, and deep mortise, like the one I had to chop for the vise garter last night. It was almost enough to make me buy a mortising machine. If there had been two of 'em I expect the AmEx would have been whipped out and I would be finding room in my overcrowded shop for another machine.

By the time I got to within about an inch of the promised land instead of chips all I could remove was dust or a stuck pigsticker. After an hour of whack, whack, try to lever and getting either dust or a stuck chisel I dug out the drill and drilled out most of the waste, paring out the rest to clean up. What a PITA.

Moravian WorkBench Finished

Talk about working without a net. We leave for Oregon one week from today and all that is left to do is a little "clean up" on the bench and make a tool tray for the tool box. All done with a insane work schedule which BTW I'm working every day up to leaving. The joinery on the bench is not the prettiest I done but it is solid. My excuse is the whole thing was done in a rush....That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'll pick the Motorhome up from the RV shop this afternoon and then the moment of truth. Did my measurements work or did I have a brain fart and nothing fits in the proper storage bins. I do have a backup plan, I don't want to use, but if nothing fits in the bins I can carry it all in the Honda Fit Toad.

BTW, if you look behind the fan the tool box is standing on end.

See you guys on down the road,


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vise Screw Is Here

The Vise screw arrived late yesterday afternoon. We leave for Oregon in just a little over a week, things are getting down to the nut cutting with little time left. That is the bad news. The good is everything is falling into place and the work bench with tool box may make the trip.

The vise chop is almost finished, all that is left is shaping and glueing up the parallel guide. After that boring the screw hole in the vise backer, making the mortise for the parallel guide in the vise backer and mounting the nut. And the fat lady will sing something like "I want you to love me like you loved me when you really did".

No photographs because the camera battery is still DOA.

The tool box is finished other than a sliding tray.

Parts for the Motorhome are to be drop shipped by Friday....And he sticks the landing to cheers of the crowd. Like I have said many times it is better to be lucky than good.

Photos when I can,


Monday, August 21, 2017

Waiting On The Vise Screw

The vise screw is scheduled for delivery sometime tomorrow. While waiting for the screw I'm putting together a Japanese style tool box to transport the needed tools.  That may make carrying around a work bench worthwhile or maybe not..

It is a simple build, I'm sure I'm making it more complex than needed but that is the Western way :-). I cheated and dug out and blew all the dust off the old biscuit joiner. BTW, it took a couple of minutes of butt scratching to remember how to use it. Finally figured it out and used it for the end butt joints. The cut nails should add a little to the strength but I suspect they will be more decorative  than anything else.

I'll tongue and grove the bottom slats if time permits.

I have not decided on a sliding tray or not, right now I'm leaning toward yes.

Labor Day is barreling done on us and I have no days off before we leave for Oregon.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Installed Planing Stop on The Portable Bench

Today I installed a planing stop and drilled the dog holes for the holdfasts. Those two are the last jobs other than installing the vise. ETA for the vise screw Is sometime Tuesday, until then I'm pretty much dead in the water.

Thinking I was going to be moving most of the bottom group of lumber in the wood storage pile to get to the wood for the vise chop. I had MsBubba standing by with gloves on her hands to help find the best board for the chop and maybe save my back and a trip to the E.R. After moving the scrap barrels out of the way what do I find but the perfect 8/4 hunk of Beech on top of the lumber. All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.  As I have often said...."It is better to be lucky than good".

Here is the vise chop board in place:

Because the Fujiflim X-Pro1 battery is dead and the charger is in the Motorhome (still in the shop waiting for a part) the photos are coming from my iPhone. Making them look right in Photoshop is more work than I want to do. Sorry. Also the dog holes really are vertical in spite of their looking like they are drilled at 45 degrees in the photo. Anyway here is the bench top with the installed planing stop and a row of dog holes.  

Looks like the bench may be finished in time for the Oregon trip.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Outdoor Kitchen with Bar

The outdoor kitchen's bar is finished. Not a lot of time do do anything but post a couple of photographs....Gotta go to work in a couple:

MsBubba did a great job on the bar tile.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Joy of eBay

The Motorhome is in the shop for it's annual fluid change and prep for the Oregon trip and of course the camera battery has died and the charger is, you guessed it, in the Motorhome.  Long way around to no photos with this post.

I seldom buy off eBay because, let me count the reasons, burn rate, hidden defects, hidden defects, and burn rate. I've been looking to add to my firmer chisels, both bench and paring. Just because I do not buy I do look and a couple or three days ago there was a Weatherby 1/2" firmer with a paring blade that didn't look too bad. It was obvious the seller had done some grinding to clean the chisel up some but the big factor from the photos I could see the back of the iron was pit free.

I bet you can tell where this post is going. While grinding the gunk off the seller dubbed the back. Two hours of work on the back with my 120 grit Atomia and about 1/32" off the bevel and I have a usable chisel. I would have paid twice as much for the chisel if the seller had just removed the gunk and left the grinding to me.

BTW, if you have a Tormek you owe yourself the new model 77 jig. The Weatherby chisel is a perfect example why. Many older firmer chisels do not have parallel sides, the tip will be wider than the tang end. With the model 77 jig it is no problem, tighten and loosen a couple of screws until the blade is square and you are set.  There are other improvements as well, damn fine jig.


Monday, August 14, 2017

No Joy On The Screw But The Firmer Chisels Arrived

First impression of the Narex firmer chisels is good, the chisels have nice balance, the backs, of at least the 26mm, are very slightly concave. Less than 3 minutes on the 400 Atomic and it was flat. The bevel and back honed up quickly on the med India and Hard Black Ark developing a nice burr quickly and got a beautiful 'polish' on one of the hard JNAT's.

They may be keepers,


P.S. Ralph you shouldn't have but It looks like a keeper and thanks. I love tools, it is a sickness but there is nothing as satisfying as holding and using a old tool. The feel of the wood and the fit, how it can be perfect with nothing extra but everything needed to do it's job. The 'old ones' had much knowledge, it is a shame so much has been lost.

MRI Today

Not much done today. They gave me a "happy pill" so I could stay in the MRI tube long enough to get the needed image.  Damn it is a loud sucker, it would help if they gave you a countdown clock so you would know how much longer. Anyway bottom line I was an adult and did as told with the help of meds.

It's after 1700 here and still no UPS girl with the vise screw. I'm also waiting for a set of Narex firmer chisels. Tracking claims they will be delivered before 2100 maybe both will come.

What's with no one making classic firmer chisels? I've been watching eBay, damn I hate to buy off eBay, for a while because new is almost impossible to find. I did break down and buy a "buy it now" 1/2" Weatherby firmer a couple of days ago. It cost almost as much as the 1/4" to 1" set of Narex firmers. I hope the Narex are as good as most say they are because buying off eBay is such a crap shoot.

I of course need more chisels like a new hole in the head but I've a real jones for some firmer chisels....Why?  Because, just because. My story is I'm tired of the cuts on my left hand index finger from my paring chisels but the real reason is because


Sunday, August 13, 2017

More Portable Bench

It is getting close both to time to leave for Oregon and finishing the bench in time to take it with us. If the vise screw shows up next week finishing should not be a problem. All that is left is to install the vise, a day to a day and half max.....said the fool.

The tool tray is installed, the hunk of wood on the front is the back support for the vise, it needs the parallel guide mortise chopped, the screw hole drilled and the nut installed.  The rest will be stuff done to the chop.

When we return I expect this bench will be MsBubba's and I will build another for the Motorhome. Nothing wrong with the bench it is solid but because of use of construction grade DF and rushing to finish it is as ugly as granny panties.

Of course I could get distracted by some other project....squirrels!


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Side View of Bench

I wanted a side view of the Bench on the blog:

I have to go in today to finish the check ride started last week. Once home, if I'm not too pissed to work, I'll take the bench apart and clean up the base and stretchers. I'm still thinking about painting the base, if I do the first step will be a coat of shellac. 


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Slab is Attached

I set the Slab a few minutes ago. I had to give it a go so I clamped a makeshift stop to the slab and grabbed a hunk of Sapele scrap and the #5 Jack. Not bad, in fact damn good. Bench was rock solid until I started testing to see when it would slide. I did make it move a little but I would never take a shaven as thick even with the scrub plane. Weight does make a difference, you could push with a Jeep and the English/French bench wouldn't move but it also takes a derrick and a PTO to lift that sucker.

More clean up, have I ever told you how much I dislike working with construction grade DF, make a tool tray for the off side, and install the vise once the screw shows up. The fat lady is warming up backstage.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Tormek SE 77

A quick note touting the new to me SE 77 square edge jig. I've had it on the shelf for several months and had not used it. Mostly because it has a couple of extra knobs and with my attention span lately reading a "how to" even as short as the 77's was more than my feeble brain could handle.

Turns out those extra knobs will allow you to adjust the grinding angle (bevel angle is still adjusted by projection) and can help with putting on a camber. Tormek has changed the design of the clamping mechanism slightly and claims the jig can be used with short, thick, and even non-ninety edged irons like Japanese ones. That I haven't tried but would be a good feature if it works.

The new 77 is heavier and slightly thicker than the old model 76 and seems easier to set the iron against the 90 stops (could be my imagination).

Might as well cut to the chase....If you have a 76 is it worth buying a 77? My answer after using it is an unqualified yes, but as my old friend Ken would tell me often "...(I) don't like my money very much".

The 77 jig fixes two drawbacks of the SE 76 jig. While I haven't used the 90 degree adjustment, the lack of it was one of my major heartburns with the old SE jig. Sometimes you just couldn't get the edge to grind 90 degrees. Mine always seemed to grind heaver on the right side of the blade. I'm sure technique had a lot to do with it but it will be nice to be able to "zero" it out.  BTW, I ground five chisels last night and none had a heavy side. Go figure. The additional cambering authority is by itself worth toting the note.

Add in a 10" CBN wheel with the SE 77 and the Tormek really makes a good grinder, good enough I'll keep mine and use it.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Base Together

The base is finished, it just needs trimming and clean up. I'm impressed, even without closing the box, slab not installed,  it is rock solid.

I still think I will paint it with a red undercoat and black over coat of milk paint, both to hide the numerous mistakes and mostly the butt ugly DF.

As I have posted before, the design and engineering of the little bench is impressive. From a wood workers view point it is a fun build with brindle joints, through mortises, and housed dovetails along with the tusk tenons and each joint is there because it is the best joint for purpose. If I had all the time in the world to think about and design a portable bench I don't think I could come up with a better design.

Better construction for sure but design not likely.

BTW, the next one will be better and  it is such a fun build I expect there will be several more.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

Long Stretchers Finished

I've finished the long stretchers. To finish the base I need to fit the small dovetail stretchers just below the long ones then clean and trim the base parts before gluing up and pegging the sucker. I'm still waiting on the vise screw but it is not needed to mount the slab or do the tool tray.

Of course there are decisions to be made: Do I drink whisky and chase MsBubba around the pool this afternoon or buck up and finish the bases with the shop temps running well over is full of difficult decisions.

Beavering Away

I made it to the shop early this AM not that it has helped much. Sweat is pouring and breaks are often. But whatever, the bench is taking shape. I finished  chopping the second tusk mortise and fitting the tenon key. After a short "cool down" and posting of the morning results I'll get back in the saddle.

Yesterday afternoon was a waste. I had nothing booked until the last minute one of the suits realized another instructor and I were in our "late grace Month" and we had to be checked now. The significance of "late grace" is if I'm not checked before the end of August every client I trained durning the months of June, July, and August will have non-compliant training and would have to be flown back to be re-trained and re-checked on our dime. Nothing to do but monkey suit on, drive to work, meet up with the other instructor and the TCE that is checking us....All bitching about everything because all of us were wasting a day off. 

The other instructor went first and I flew right seat because he had more things needing checking. He flew a pretty nice ride considering we seldom touch the controls. After he finished we broke for coffee and another round of bitching about the unfairness of life and all things great and small. Back to the Sim, climbing into the seat was interesting because my back didn't like how I did getting into the right one and liked my technique of climbing into the left seat even less. 

We started getting switches switched and buttons pushed when my right seater looked up and the visuals were 'flickering' , enough to make him want to toss his cookies. After much back and forth, and trying different scenes, day, night, dusk, dawn, landing lights on/off, good WX, bad, different airports we gave up and wrote it up. Now the Sim is AOG (aircraft on the ground) and is down until the techs can find and fix the problem. Several hours later after more coffee and bitching the Sim Techs threw in the towel and we all went home.

One more thing, the tech at the MRI shop called during all this mess to inform me that even though my insurance approved doing a MRI the didn't approve paying for one done by the shop the Doctor sent me to. The Monday MRI is cancelled and I'm pissed. It is really difficult to get me, MsBubba, and the MRI machine all in the same place at the same time. Now I have to start all over. 

The day did end on a high note with the pool, whisky, MsBubba and of course Sweet Maggie Dog dropping her ball on my head so I will throw it back into the pool...Life isn't all bad.  


Friday, August 04, 2017

First Tusk Tenon Key Finished

Three more to go. Once the last three keys are finished I will clean up the inside faces of the legs and glue and peg those suckers together.

I can't claim to be in the short rows but I can see "em.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

First Fit of Moravin Bench

There is still a lot to go but I wanted to see how it will look...Not too bad.

There is a set of small dove tailed stretchers to fit near the bottom of the legs. The tops of the legs will be planed flush across and the pegs to hold the top will need installing. All the tenons need trimming flush or to length as will the slab and someday glue and pegs to keep it all together.

 After that a tool tray to fill out the top and a vise once the screw arrives.

The good news: You don't have to squint too hard to see a bench.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

One Long Stretcher Mortise To Go

One to go, it will have to wait until tomorrow. Shop is already too hot too work, I'm sweating all over my tools. Here in the desert usually only two thing will rust your tools; sweat and blood. So far this morning I've dodged the blood.

Anyway I like what I'm seeing so far and what little research I've done on the Moravians indicates the bench may work very well. This style bench was a job site bench, unlike the English who tended to build their benches on the site the Moravians made their job site benches portable.

Botton line I'm looking forward to giving it a go. Here is a photo of one long stretcher in place, waiting for the last mortise for the other side.

BTW, major butt scratching before chopping the third mortise, much back and forth to insure the mortise was placed correctly. Simple but, I've been known to screw it up.

Old Fart medical, skip it. It is boring as granny panties but it gives me a place to note what is happening.

For the last three months I've had constant back and leg pain for most of every day. worst early mornings, on the 1 to 10 scale hitting 7 to 8 at times for an hour or two after getting out of bed. After a couple of hours I could move around but still in low level pain with no strength in my legs. This was every day with no escape other than whisky and sometimes a couple of pain pills until this Saturday. I started a course of Methylprednissolone and within a couple of hours all pain disappeared and I've been pain free now for going on four days. I know once the course of meds is finished the pain is likely to return but....It gives me hope that it can be controlled without surgery. MRI this coming Monday should tell the tell.

Sorry for the digression,


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A Photo of Chopping the Double Mortise

Title says it all. A quick photo of chopping the mortises before chopping out the middle web.

I'll use a 1" chisel to chop out the middle and then the 1 1/2" bench chisel to finish up the ends and maybe smooth the walls a little.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chopping Mortises

The Moravian Work bench requires a number of large (wide) mortises. In the video Will Myers uses the drill and pare technique for all but the four small (common size) mortises. While I've never been a fan of drill and pare I decided to use it on the cross leg mortise. Four of those suckers are enough to convince me I'm still not a fan.  Even the last one was not easier or better than the first. For the long stretcher mortises I've gone back to my standard chop the sucker out with a pig sticker. For these because they are so wide I'm using my widest mortise chisel and chopping a mortise on each side of the mortise then chopping out the waste left in the middle. In effect because it is a through mortise chopping four mortises and then cleaning up the middle. The first one took a little over thirty minutes to chop and fit, including time spent wiping sweat off my face and glasses. It was over 105F at the time.  Much faster with less set up time and cleaner better fitting mortises.

Some day I will learn to stick with what works. BTW, the late great Guy Clark had a song about what works. I'm not sure of the reason but that part of West Texas over a few years period produced some great singer song writers, from Guy Clark, to Roy Orbison, to Buddy Holly.

Damn, I almost caught that squirrel....Anyway, morning should be cool enough to get the other three mortises done. Except for some clean up and making the tusks the base of the bench will be finished. Then it's waiting on the vise screw I ordered a couple of weeks ago, come on UPS girl you are holding up progress.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sharpening Bench

I've posted about my sharpening bench before but because it is so important to efficient work I'm adding a update. Of all the tools and appliances in the shop the sharpening bench is second only to the main work bench and is located just off the left end of the main bench, just a step or two away.

The sharpening bench was the first work bench I built. At the time I hadn't a clue, I had started reading Fine Woodworking and knew I needed a wood working bench but couldn't afford a ready made. I don't know if you have seen very many Russian airplanes, if not you may not understand the reference, The bench is like a Russian airplane, if you didn't look too hard it looked somewhat like a wood working bench. I made it out of SYP because that was all I could find, not knowing that CS would many years later make a SYP bench fashionable. Bottom line over the years it has worked well in several different shop roles, the last being as a sharpening bench.

I've tried many configurations for the sharpening bench, just the primary stones on top of the bench, both oil and water stones on either end, even at one time having a Tormek on the bench. What I've settled on is just the primary use stones along with the primary strop, horse butt leather with green stuff, on the bench and all other stones stored in cabinets above the bench.

In the stone pond are my goto stones a med India and a Translucent Arkansas oil stone, Sometimes I will change from the Translucent to a Hard Black Arkansas. The Translucent has a better "feel" than the Hard Black, it has a little "tooth" where the Hard Black is slicker than snot. Scratch pattern and speed between the two are about the same. Go figure. Right now there are a couple of Spyderco stones sitting between the Arkansas stones because yesterday I had to sharpen one of the few A2 irons in the shop. The Spyderco's will return to the oil stone cabinet soon. On the far right you may be able to see a diamond lapping plate, I used it the other day to lap and re-fresh some oil stones Ralph at the accidental woodworker blog was kind enough to send me. The lapping plate will also return to its place in the oil stone storage cabinet above the bench.

The oil stone storage cabinet also stores misc junk and several (way too many) honing guides.

In a separate cabinet to the right are my water stones, man made stones on the bottom shelf and natural Japanese water stones on the top shelf.

It has taken time to get to this point, the old story of kissing frogs, but for now unless I get another bright idea to try this is my basic sharpening set up.

If interested click 'em to big 'em.