Wednesday, April 25, 2018



The travel workbench is finished, kinda. The next time I have a reason to pull it apart I'll clean up the pencil marks, finish rounding off the tusk tenons and put some oil or finish on at least the base . None of that changes the bench functionality and the bench is fully functional as is.

I've done all the major jobs on it, edge and face plane, saw rip and crosscut, plow a groove, and chop end grain and the bench is rock solid, as solid as the main French/English bench.

Now comes the problem, where to put it. It is too good to just store in the Motorhome and only use on trips. I'm thinking I can move the assembly bench to under the wood storage and replace the assembly bench with the travel bench. Or I could give the assembly bench to MsBubba for her studio. What to do, what to do?

In some ways it is a nice problem to have but here is the sick part....I'm already thinking about making another one but slightly scaled up.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

I Couldn't Resist

The two slabs are close to size, the rear one needs to be trimmed and both will need a little work on their faces.

Most of the bench is set in stone at this point. Base, Long Stretchers, and Vise Backer are 12/4 Poplar, the Short Stretchers and Back Slab are 8/4 Poplar, the front Slab is 8/4 Beech, and the Chop, IIRC, is 8/4 Red Oak. The Vise Screw is from Lake Erie Toolworks.

Anyway if you squint it kinda looks like it will look when finished.

There are still several days of work to go. The two slabs will need "blind pegging" and the pegs to hold 'em. There are two more mortises to chop, both shallow but a little long, and the mortise for the vise guide needs cutting into the Vise Backer. The Vice Backer also needs a 2 5/8th hole for the vise screw.  The slabs will also need final trim before I can roll the credits.


Truing One Edge of Workbench Slab

I'm truing the reference (outside edge) edge of the Beech slab this morning. The edge wasn't 90 degrees to the face and was slightly wavy so first up was a woodie jack plane. For some reason once it was close I dug out the Battleship instead of one of the woodie jointers. I guess I felt I needed a workout. Whatever, I got one. Once MsBubba is up I'll get her to help run the other edge through the power jointer. It will be the inside edge and it doesn't need to be perfect.

The faces of the board are flat with no wind.  Once both edges are done I'll install the Beech slab to the base and do any clean up needed after installing the small Poplar back slab.

The bench will have a small split just wide enough to hold tools with the front Beech slab about 400mm and an ~130mm Poplar back slab. I've found asymmetrical slabs/work surfaces work very well and make the top of the bench easier to build and handle.

A couple of photos of truing the edge:

One of the LN #8. I'm too damn old to push that thing around for long. I'm sweating like a pig even after coffee and writing this post:

The board is just under 2200mm long. I'll trim about 400mm off for a final length of around 1800mm.

I dug out the wood screw, chop, and vise backer board and re-installed 'em on the sharpening bench (the first traveling bench) and they worked like a champ. I also did a quick place the chop on the new bench and it looks like all I'll need to make is a new vise backer board. That should save some time.

While I've never been a fan of leg vises, most of the ones I've tried have been finicky and don't really hold any better than one of the older English QR metal vises. This one with a wood screw is not bad, in fact I could grow to like it.

I think I hear a fat lady far off in the background, it's still a little faint but.....not long until the short rows.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Slab For The Travel Bench

From my experience with travel bench v1, a 8/4 slab is good enough. I really do not want to do a slab glue up for a 50mm thick or so slab. Problem, I do not have any wood in the wood pile that is thick enough and/or wide enough to make a usable slab.

Adding to that problem I went to bed last night and awoke with either a "cold" or a bad case of allergies, bottom line after a bad night I do not feel like doing anything other than drinking whiskey with some honey and feeling sorry for myself.  One problem with that plan, I want to work on the bench once I feel like it and the wood store is closed on Sunday.

What to do other than suck it up Bubba and make the trip. I did, and after going through the stacks at the wood store I couldn't find a single board that would work and almost gave up but I remembered they keep the European Beach inside with the $40 USD a board foot wood. At first glance the Beech stack did not look promising but hidden in back was a 8/4 X 400mm X 2200mm hunk of Beech that is perfect for the slab. Whip out the AmEx, throw it in the bed of the trunk and I have my slab with zero glue up....Life doesn't get better.

It is still whiskey and honey and feeling sorry for myself but at least I have the slab for when I can work on it.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Travel Bench Base

The Travel bench base is together. Still to go is the slab, tool tray, vise backer, chop, and vise install. With the work schedule and MsBubba's needs I expect it will be touch and go finishing by Memorial Day weekend. I'd hoped to take it to Mexico for a shake down cruise before we head to the PNW. Maybe the 4th will work.

Anyway the base is solid as can be even without the slab. Here are a couple of photos:

From the other end:

While I'd like to start the slab my back is telling me no mas, no mas. I think instead I'll pour a glass of Laphroaig and get ready to watch Rachel and the Friday night news dump. We are living in interesting times. If all the things that have happened from the 40's till now hadn't happened and I tried to pitch a novel covering that period of my life i'd be laughed at and thought a nut.

I hope everyone has a good weekend, 


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fitting Long Stretchers In A One Man Shop

As much as I enjoy building workbenches I'm getting too damn old and weak to wrestle the big hunks of timber around the shop by myself without lots of breaks.

This morning I cut the tenons on the long stretchers and I'm fitting them to the base if my back holds up.

Here is a photo, the first two are fitted, two more to go:

From the other side:

It is a good thing it's a workbench and a traveling one at that, there are a few more boo-boos and tear outs than I would like. None will affect its function but....

After fitting the stretchers they will need to be marked for the wedge mortises.

I should go find the lumber for the slab today. If I don't it may be awhile before I get another chance.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Panic In Casa Chaos

I just finished gluing up the two base assemblies for the traveling workbench.  The second through mortise tenon froze about 6mm  shy. Oh shit, oh shit were in the hell is Lumpy. I scrambled around finding Lumpy, clamps and a block to beat against and managed to get the joint to seat ok, not great but ok. BTW, I didn't have Lumpy or even clamps out because the dry fit went so well. Shame on me.

After gluing up the second base assemble I inspected the first one carefully and saw that I had a case of the dumbass with the first. Even though on something like a workbench I chisel mark and fill in the marks with a black pen on each piece so there is no question with tenon goes into which mortise. Well I guess there was a question because the #1 tenon was put in the #4 mortise. The good news is I get 'em all pretty close to the same size. The bad is I usually relieve the back shoulder slightly so the show side pulls up very tight. Guess what, the inside shoulder is beautiful the face one not so much.

I can tell myself it makes no never mind.....It's a workbench and after the first trip to the PNW the slight gap will be the least of it's booboos. Whatever, it still pisses me off that I can be so dumb.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Watergate to Pussygate Plus a Little Traveling Workbench

As someone who lived through the Cold War, Cuba, Vietnam, the treason of Nixon, Watergate, Reagan, the Bushes, and now Pussygate this is the first time I've been frightened of the final outcome. Whatever it will be, shit is getting real. 

On to something I can somewhat control the final outcome. I had a rare couple of days off in a row this past weekend and while I didn't get as much done as I could have the base of the traveling workbench is coming along.

A photo of the base waiting glue up:

As always click 'em to big 'em.

Next up is sawing the tenons for the long stretchers and gluing up a slab. I'll reuse the wood screw for the vise and I expect make a new chop. There is a ways to go and I'm not in the short rows yet but I can see 'em.


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Saw Skills

Shannon Rogers over at Renaissance Woodworker made a statement that I've long felt was true but had never heard articulated. That saw skills were the foundational skill set of woodworking.

If you can saw to a line everything else is easy. We go on and on about sharpening, natural stones vs. man made, what steel is best HC vs. A2. Wood stock planes vs. metal and so on. Bottom line if you can saw, and any saw that is sharp will work from the cheapest to a fully blinged out Bad Axe, making joints is quick and easy. If you can not, well you are in for a lot of work that often does not turn out well.

An Organized Shop Is A Sign Of A Sick Mind

Over on one of the woodworking forums is a thread asking for photos of member's tool storage solutions. Of course this is a chance to show your shop which many have, myself included.

If there is a common theme to the photos it is most are too damn clean and organized. There has always been two camps, one has every tool having a place and every tool in its place. The other, every tool's place is where it was last used. Both groups seem to work efficiently unless a tool is either moved or misplaced.  I tend to fall in the middle, tools have a place but I'm not anal about it. That said, from my experience over many years of dealing with maintenance folks the last group tend to be a hell of a lot more fun to have a beer with after work.

Anyway, the posts started me thinking about what my shop looks like mid-project and that is today's subject. I'm in the fitting of joinery stage on the traveling workbench and here is my shop as I left it last night.

Main Bench:

Joinery Bench:

There is a little of every tool in its place but mostly where I last used the tool.

Moving on:

I've had a recently rare three days off in a row, for a year or so we have been running back to back lines with usually only one day off before starting another line or two. It is not sustainable and as much as I like my work if it keeps up retirement will soon follow.

To add to the three days off in a row, I will not say enjoyment but at least to the interest, the critters and I are living with no adult supervision for the next couple of weeks. MsBubba is in the UK for her Mom's 90th Bday.

Here's a whisky to Mom and 90 years vertical and looking down at the grass, cheers Mom.


Friday, March 23, 2018

March 22 2018

MsBubba after 15 or 16 years, we are not sure, decided to make a honest man out of me. The 22nd was also my 75th Bday, damn time goes by fast. I guess MsBubba is now MrsBubba.

The kids came out from Houston to help celebrate and Jamie did the ceremony. A few friends also showed up for food and drink. Out of 75 this was the best.

One of the family:

Most important, Willie cooking:


Sunday, March 11, 2018

eBay and ECEPlanes

eBay can still work but the noise to signal ratio is high and I think getting higher. That said the other day I found a hidden prince among the frogs. A little back story.

ECE traditional planes are one of the true bargains in the wood working world. For either ECE Smoother or Jack Highland Woodworking asks $110 USD. With either you get a plane with a good iron and cap iron that is usable right out of the box. Used Stanley's approach that price point and they will many times need work to put 'em to work.

Some time ago ECE went from the traditional "eared" escapement to a crosspin type escapement. I have both types and in truth both work well but from an aesthetic point I like the eared escapement.

Cut to the chase: While looking on eBay for Marple chisels and fillister planes I came across a "eared" ECE Smoothing plane that appeared NOS with the iron still in the wapper and in a box for about half the price of a new plane from Highland. It arrived the other day and it was NOS, every once in a while eBay works.

After sharpening the iron and on a small hunk of pine:

The differences between the ECE Smoother and the Jack are small. The Jack is a couple of silly mm's longer, so little unless they are side by side you would not notice and the Smoother's iron is bedded at 50 degrees vs. the Jack iron at 45 degrees. With a second iron the Jack could fill both functions.

Both planes side by side showing the difference between the "new" escapement and the old traditional "eared" one:



Monday, March 05, 2018

Signing My Work

I have no need for a name stamp. If anyone ever wanted to find out who made something of mine all they need is a DNA test.

The critters made sure I didn't get a lot of sleep tonight. First it was Sam at 2330 wanting to go pee, then Maggie needing the same at 0130. In between It was fitful in and out sleep. After Maggie's wake up woof I couldn't go back to sleep. Of course both critters are in their beds and snoring away. I'm the only fool awake and chopping mortises.

Which brings me to the DNA. As usual I haven't a clue when or how, I was just beavering away when I noticed a puddle of blood on the leg I was working.  After a quick inspection of both hands I found the source, the outside edge of my left palm. Now the question is how in the hell do you cut yourself there.

I have a 0800 "show" this morning, hope the bleeding stops in time to finish up the last through mortise before donning the monkey suit. Whatever, when I finish and make it home it is back to pulling wires and installing outlets.


Sunday, March 04, 2018

Have I Ever Told You How Much I Hate Pulling Wire

MsBubba wants lights in the back garden. Our house was built in the 70's and did not have a single external outlet when we bought it. Over the years I've added a few but not enough to keep the boss happy. A couple of problems with adding circuits is the house's main load center is full as is MsBubba's studio load center and about the only other source is the shop's load center. The bad news is it is full as well but there was one 20 amp breaker that was a single. I changed it out for a 20 amp double and started pulling wires. After spending most of the morning cussing and muttering and with only two trips to HD I have wire to a junction box under the patio roof. Over the next couple of weeks with more cussing and muttering along with more trips to Home Depot I'll add three or four outlets and some lights over the patio bar.

Before I was rudely reminded I had promised to wire the back garden this morning I was making good progress on the travel bench. The top brindle joints on all four legs are cut and two of the four stretcher through mortises are finished. With one good day in the shop I can finish the base. Problem is between work and the Grandpeanut coming to Tucson in a couple of weeks I'm not sure when that one good day will happen.

A photo of the legs in progress:


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I broke down the 12/4 Poplar yesterday into four legs (still two legs to a blank) and two long stretchers. Wrestling around the two hunks of timber and getting them through the bandsaw by myself was interesting. I ain't as strong nor is my back as able as it was when I was a pup.

Here are the parts ready to start prepping to working dimensions.

If work forgets I exist, today is my last day for the week. We have thought about going to Mexico for a four day weekend but It looks to be a little cool for the beach. Still a coin flip which way we go. Beer and tacos or honey do's, I'm not sure which will win, kinda above my pay grade.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Started New Travel Bench

Last year's travel bench replaced my old sharpening bench after the PNW trip. It served well on the trip but it is now in use in the shop and not available for travel.

I made a trip to the woodstore yesterday, they had some 12/4 Poplar in stock at a fair price for the desert so it will be the base wood. I also picked up a small piece of 8/4 Poplar for the short cross stretchers.

I rough cut the 8/4 short stretchers yesterday. The 12/4 stock is marked for rough cutting to size for the legs and long stretchers. The woodstore was short on 8/4 Beech for the slab, it will require a return trip.

A photo of the Poplar, even Poplar is a heavy sucker once it gets 12/4 thick.

Here is last year's bench:


Sunday, February 25, 2018


Just as I feared, figured, best guessed, I knew it would but did it anyway, the Cherry top split. I don't know if you can see but the top left and bottom right mortises have split almost full length of the top.

Problem is I didn't have any Poplar or other split resistant wood of the correct size in the wood pile and I did have this Cherry cut off. This was a trial build so what the hell, might as well use the Cherry.

The good news is the legs are fine and all I have to do is make another top out of a wood that does not split as easily as Cherry. The other good news is I learned a bit about chair making which bottom line this is about. Baby steps dontcha know.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Shaping Hard Maple Legs

I'm building a staked low stool with a Cherry seat/top and Hard Maple legs. It is my first go at the form so once finished it may never see the light of day.

The boring and reaming of the seat is pretty straight forward or so I think. Once the legs are set we'll see how straight forward it is. I've finished one leg and I'm using it as a pattern for the others. The third leg is about 80% shaped and I will finish shaping the fourth leg before going back to the lathe to do the tenons on the three without tenons.

BTW, shaping Hard Maple is work. Here are a couple of photos the jig/leg holder and shaping of the third leg in progress.

From the front:

From my viewpoint:

The ECE woodie is perfect for this job, light, not too long, easy on the hands and has good iron.


Friday, February 23, 2018

I Will Not Use FedEx As Long As They Support the NRA

The title says it all. I could not look myself in the mirror in the mornings knowing I was supporting a company that funded a political organization providing tools for mass killers no matter how many good folks are members.

Back to woodworking:

Today I'm making legs for a small vernacular stool and have been reminded how much work there is to shaping Maple. Add in I seldom turn, my best guess it has been at least several years since the last time I did a couple of chisel handles, these leg tenons should be fun.

Here is a photo of the leg shaping jig and the mess left from shaping one leg:

A photo of the shaped leg in the lathe so I can form the tenon:

This is a project that may never see the light of day but whatever it should be fun.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Home Depot Sucks Pond Water

Not what I wanted to say about Home Depot but.....

As last posted Casa Chaos is without hot water, it still is.

Like a good homeowner and consumer I made the trip to Home Depot with AmEx in hand, talked to the nice guy working the plumbing aisle and after giving the checkout machine a little over $700USD I came home with a big box. On the outside of the big box in big letters was call this number before noon and get the hot water heater installed the same day. Because the box followed me home on Sunday I had to wait to call first thing Monday, which I did before 0800. They gave me, IIRC, a 1400 to 1700 install window. I wouldn't be posting about Home Depot sucks pond water if they made that window.

Slightly after 1700 I call the 800 number about the no show and this is where the sucks pond water starts. In answer to where and when the installer was going to show and why no one had called to inform me was this from what must be the slowest on his feet CS rep in the world, "The installer had to be re-routed". Me, "why has no one called?". CR rep "we were just starting to call". Yep I'm sure that's the case and BTW I won't cum in your mouth either. After a little back and forth the CS rep offered up that "the earliest they could reschedule was Wed. afternoon". I had kept my cool to that point.

While I was on the phone with Lowe's the CS rep called back to say they could fit the install in today between 0800 and 1200.

BTW, all this great service for the privilege of forking over $900USD to these clowns.

I still haven't decided what I will do, stay with HD or start all over with Lowe's. A call to Lowe's this morning will decide.

There I feel better, the meds are starting to kick in and I'm past the going postal stage.....maybe.


Monday, February 19, 2018

I've the day off from my day job and have finished the kitchen cart project. I'm also waiting for a LV package of love to continue the new project. All this comes down to a lot of iron sharpening and some cleaning of the shop. Most of the sharpening time has been spent on my Marple chisels, someday I may get all of 'em sharp.

A little back story, I've a major jones for pre 1933 marple chisels and gouges and especially for the ones with Boxwood Carver handles. I do have one pre 1933 chisel with a London pattern handle and I expect I will add more when found. I just made a photo for the insurance file so I thought I would share. BTW, I've looked at a bunch bunch of frogs to find these.

From left to right are the gouges, then the pre-1933 chisels followed by the lone London pattern (pre 1933) and then the six post 1933 chisels.

I use my Japanese chisels for most chopping operations and the Marples for most other bench work. I know everyone is different, YMMV and all that other rot but I've yet to find a modern chisel with the steel, balance, and feel of the early Marple chisels. The only ones that come close are those made by Ashley Iles and Sorby.

Casa Chaos is without hot water until sometime after 1400 today. yesterday morning I ran out of hot water during my shower, damn I hate it when that happens. After finishing a lukewarm shower I got down on hands and knees to see what was wrong with the water heater. Yeah right, anything other than lighting the pilot light is out of my wheelhouse. I couldn't get the pilot light to light definitely out of my wheelhouse. Now what do I do. After much butt scratching I looked at the data plate to discover the heater was 15 years old. That simplified things, off to Home Depot with AmEx in hand. Seven hundred USD later I returned home with a gas water heater in my truck bed. It is still not installed, should happen this afternoon with an exchange of another nine hundred USD. The joys of homeownership. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Shop Floor After A Project

Now that the the kitchen cart is finished it is clean up time. I'd already cleaned the floor after preparing the stock, this is just from the joinery. Still it gets pretty deep.

I swept most of it up, cleaned off the bench tops and put away the tools along with enjoying  my evening whisky. I'm ready to start the next project.

BTW, have I ever mentioned that life is good?


She Has Left The Building

Finished and in Place:


I'm glad it is done.


The Fat Lady Enters Stage Left

The cart is close to a done deal. I have to install the drawer pull and maybe add two or so more coats of oil finish. Then after I do a little rubbing on it, that suckers is out of the shop.

The cart's legs are White Oak, aprons, shelves, stretchers, and drawer box are Cherry, the bottom of the drawer is Honey Locust, and the pull is Sepele.

It has been a good build with only mostly minor mistakes and screw ups, most of which only I or another woodworker will see.

Next up are a couple of vernacular chairs and I'll start on a new portable Moravian workbench for this fall's PNW trip.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

More Kitchen Cart

This past weekend was a good shop weekend with few interruptions and little need for running the streets. It is amazing how much can be done with several hours of uninterrupted shop time.

The cart is close to finished. All that is left is finishing and installing the drawer. The drawer box is made and awaiting glue once the bottom is finished. The drawer also needs a front and handle/pull of some kind.

My first thought was a Baltic Birch plywood bottom for the drawer but after thinking about the span I decided to go with a solid wood bottom. I found a Honey Locus board that was almost perfect size in the wood pile. Simple cut it in half, glue the two parts together, run a rabbet around it, maybe relieve the thickness a little and I have a bottom. The only problem with the plan is one end of the Honey Locus board had a curve, little wind but it was a little spaghetti like. I'll pull it out of the clamps in a sec and see if it is useable.

The bottom board in clamps with the drawer box:

The other question is what to use for the drawer front. I've a couple of candidates. One is a matching Cherry board and the other is some of the last of my South American Walnut. I expect I'll go safe and use the Cherry but with oil the South American Walnut turns a rich very dark brown. A really pretty wood with a oil finish.

The cart with the first coat of Danish Oil and the two drawer front candidates:

I just pulled the bottom out of the clamps, it has a slight wind but there should be good thickness left after clean up. I believe it is a go.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kitchen Cart Out of Clamps

I just removed the clamps from the kitchen cart, like Ralph will note, it didn't talk to me as they came off. With the exception of one joint, one of the lower (shelf) stretchers, every joint is tight. The lower stretcher joint isn't bad, just not as tight as the others. Stuff happens, I may or may not try to hide it.

One more photo of the unfinished cart:

I had planned on taking some photos of the joints before glue up but no joy. MsBubba was helping and she has a short attention span with all things shop and once the glue up started there was no time for photos.

Ralph and I think Andy asked for some construction detail.

In the above photo you can see some of the joints, click 'em to big 'em. The three aprons have double tenons with a shoulder and a web between the tenons. The front top stretcher is dovetailed and the bottom one has double stub tenons. The bottom stretchers have a single tenon and are grooved to hold the bottom shelf slats. The slats have a tongue to fit the groove and are not glued in.

The mortises were chopped with the trusty 1/2" pig sticker. The tenons were split out and cleaned up with the router plane. Stock prep was by hand with only the reference/show faces finished. In other words pretty conventional construction and also quick and dirty.

I've drawer stock rough sized and a big hunk of Hard Maple for the top still in the truck bed. Once MsBubba is awake I'll prep and make the butcher board top out of the Maple. If I can keep the day off running of the streets under control this sucker should be finished before the weekend is over.


Friday, February 09, 2018

Lumpy and The Kitchen Cart Glue Up

If your shop doesn't have a "lumpy" get one.

MsBubba helped with the kitchen cart glue up, with out MsBubba and lumpy I would have been in deep do-do.

I had a couple of joints that froze tight and I couldn't get enough clamp pressure on them to pull 'em tight. Lumpy to the rescue, a couple of whacks did the job. This was the first glue up MsBubba has helped with. The look on her face when I first whacked the cart with lumpy was priceless. You could see she thought I'd lost my mind and it was time to call the funny farm.

Anyway here the cart is in clamps. I picked up 17.5 board feet of Hard Maple to make the top tomorrow. a quick drawer, install the wheels and that sucker is done....The fat Lady is warming up back stage.

For The Folks Up In The North Woods :-)

Driving home from work at noon my truck's thermometer read 82F/28C. Not too shabby for the second week in Feb.

I love the desert Southwest even in Aug.

The OF that was going to help with the kitchen cart glue up came down with a bad back yesterday so I'm either going to do it alone or enlist MsBubba. With MsBubba it could be even more fun than with the other OF. I'm not sure I'm brave enough.


Thursday, February 08, 2018

Kitchen Cart Ready For Glue Up

I've a couple of really exciting photos for todays post, two views of a pile of sticks waiting for someone to glue 'em together.

The joinery is finished and the kitchen cart is ready for glue up. There are enough parts and the finished cart will be heavy enough I decided to ask a friend over to help in the glue up.

Here are the sticks:

From the other side:

Exciting no?  If you look at the background there's the lath, vac, shave horse, and lumber storage. Big whop.

I really should make a video of the glue up, two deaf, hard headed OF's with bad backs trying to fit together the puzzle before the glue sets. Hilarity should ensue. BTW, my first plan was to use hot hide glue but even though Tucson is warming the open time would be pretty short so I decided to just go with Old Brown glue....that should cut down of the fun factor.


Monday, February 05, 2018

Planing White Oak

It's magical, the sound and feel of a well set up and sharp iron on wood.

I'm cleaning up the parts of the kitchen cart in preparation for glue up. I'm using one of my favorite planes, a type 9 41/2 with an after market Japanese laminated cutter and a OEM cap iron. It sings on White Oak, it doesn't get much better than the sound and feel of a sharp iron on wood.

The only problem, if it is a problem, one leg between sharpening is about all you can expect. White Oak is pretty tough on the iron. That's the bad news, the good is the Japanese blade is easy and quick to bring back to a perfect singing edge.


Biscuit Joiner and Flat Head Syndrome

If you need to make some quick and dirty sheet good cabinets there isn't a much quicker way than either pocket screws or a biscuit joiner. I've both kinds of cabinets in my shop. I've always felt my shop furniture was there to function, not to show off my skills. And either pocket screws or a biscuit joiner will get you functional cabinets very quickly.

Pocket screws, not the pocket screw system, I use all the time in the shop. They are good self tapping screws. The biscuit joiner is pretty useless and just sits there taking space and collecting dust. At least that was the case before I had my latest bout of flat head syndrome.

A little back story. Up until recently I've always made wood cleats to attach table top to base. They are cheep to make, just a little scrap wood, and I think look good good. Not that anyone other than another woodworker would look at 'em. The only problem with using them is they are a little labor intensive with the making of the cleats and chopping the required mortises. Even that is not a big problem, I'm not a production shop, I build furniture because I enjoy the process but a month or so ago I needed to ship a table with the top off and I was afraid the skill level and knowledge of the receiver might not be up to attaching the top with wood cleats. I remembered "Z" clips do the same thing as the wood cleats and were pretty much a no brainer to install.

I made the required saw kerf with the Table saw and sent the table off with a package of "Z" clips. It must have worked because I received no complaints. The only problem was I wasn't real comfortable with the full length saw kerf down the table's aprons. Now comes the flat head syndrome: Shortly after sending the table off I noticed the biscuit joiner sitting on a high shelf gathering dust and thought "self, why not use the biscuit joiner to make the saw kerf".

Of course I did the usual back patting and fist pumping thinking I was brilliant and had discovered something new. Of course, wrong sawdust breath, as usual I'm the last to know, I've spent most of my life riding in the short bus and this was just one more time.

BTW, a biscuit joiner makes a really quick, easy, and strong way to use "Z" clips for attaching a table top.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

Pattern Maker Chisel

I'm making stub tenons/tongues on the bottom shelf slats. It would be worth having a pattern makers chisel for no other use than making a groove for the saws crosscut. Throw in cleaning up the cheeks and shoulders and I don't know how I managed to work so long with out one.

These Sorby's are really sweet, light with a very thin flexible blade and a Boxwood carver handle. The blade is easy to sharpen and holds a good edge. I know I sound like an infomercial and it is easy to spend other people's money but do yourself a favor and get a couple or three from Sorby. I know LV carries them as well as Amazon.

BTW, the kitchen cart is coming along. I've two more slats to finish, cut the grooves for the "Z" hooks to hold the top, clean up the show faces and glue the sucker up.


Saturday, February 03, 2018

MsBubba's Kitchen Cart

I'm making progress on the kitchen cart. Most of the joinery is done, I just need to make a couple of grooves in the bottom short stretches to hold the shelf slats and make rabbets in the slats to fit the grooves.

The cart is together so I can measure the slats and determine which and where the rest of the joints need tweaking. Make a Hard Maple glue up top, a drawer, clean up all the show faces, and install the casters before the fat lady sings.

With my schedule for the next couple of weeks it may take a couple or three weeks to finish. Still it is good to have the heavy lifting done.

Some photos, the colors are off, I tweaked 'em as much as I could without really going into the Photoshop weeds BTW, BTDT for years and no longer have the energy or need. The legs are White Oak and the stretchers are Cherry.



These colors are close but a little yellow:

As always....Click 'em to big 'em,


Friday, February 02, 2018

Changes To West Wall

In my never ending quest to pack 10 lbs of stuff into a 5 lb bag I've made a couple of slight changes to the west wall (right side of main bench) of the shop.

I moved the chisel rack down and to the right to make room for a new plane shelf below the upper plane shelf. Not much of a change but for now it makes enough room to hold the new plow planes as well as a few of the overflow (read unused) metal planes that were stored elsewhere. I expect a couple more plows to show up and maybe a fillester or two. In that case the unused metals will go back to the previous hidey hole.

I've been making storage boxes for some of the lesser used chisels, I don't really like that solution because they become out of sight and never used. The problem is finding wall space for either cabinets or racks. 

I guess the real answer is to sell off a ton of tools and stop buying new ones. And yeah, I get a big picture of that. I did sell close to $600USD of chisels, saws, marking gauges, and planes a couple of weeks ago and it didn't make a dent in the storage problem and about the only thing that will stop the buying is retirement, maybe.

When you fall off the wagon the ground is hard.


I Like Old Tools

I just don't like rehabbing "em. My love of old tools as MsBubba would tell you ain't because I'm cheap nor is it because of some hippy dippy notion of connection to the past. It is simply the fact a good tool from the late 19th to early 20th Century will usually work better than its new replacement. That is not always the case but in general it is a good rule.

If you have ever spent any time looking at Russian aircraft you will see many copies of Western aircraft. Usually poorly executed copies, like the designer saw the Western aircraft several years before he/she put pencil to paper but close enough you can recognize the lineage of the design. I think many modern tools suffer from the same fault. The manufacture makes a tool that looks like one of the old ones and usually makes 'em "better" but missed some of the details that make using the tool a pleasure.

It's not that modern tools are poorly made because most are beautiful works of art but, there that damn but, they miss some of the important details. LN planes are a perfect example if compared to a early 20th Century Bailey pattern plane. The Bailey plane was light so you could use it all day with out tiring. The irons were thin, made of good HC steel and had a good balance between edge retention and ease of sharpening on any available stone. The chip breaker is much better for controlling tear-out than any of the modern back irons. The need for a moveable frog while the iron is in place is selling the sizzle instead of the steak. I'm not picking on LN, they make beautiful planes but I believe they missed the mark in making a working tool. Full disclosure, I own most of the LN planes, all sit gathering dust.

Chisel are the same story, come on, a paring chisel made of A2 steel? You have to be kidding. For that matter any chisel made of A2 is less useful than one made of HC steel and hammer forged. For a hammer forged chisel, for the most part, you have to go back to pre-war chisels or .Japanese chisels. I will not go into balance and feel but hold a pre-war Marples chisel and then hold almost any modern chisel and you will understand.

Joinery planes such as plow, fillester, or rabbet are much the same. The old wood stock ones, if you can find or fix, just work better.

OK enough for now....I'm back on my meds.


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Plow Planes

I've been posting about my adventures buying wood plow planes off eBay and a little on fixing  and correcting problems with the plows. There is much happiness in Casa Chaos tonight. The postman left the next to last plow from eBay. I have one more to come next week. Most of the plows no matter the cost have needed some work to function as a user plow. In fact cost and appearance have had little to do with the amount of fiddling needed.

Today's arrival was the exception, it cost a couple of pennies and it is a beautiful plow made by Edmond Carter Troy, N.Y.. Not a clue when but I my best guess is near the turn of the Century, and it came with what I expect were the 8 original cutters made by W. Butcher, Sheffield in a tool roll no less. All I did to the plow was put it together and sharpen one of the irons. It worked perfectly. What a joy a good wood plow is to use.

Not the best photo because of the backlight.

From the front.

And the bottom line, how good is the groove.

This one may replace my beloved Sandusky as my goto plow, at first use it is that good.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It's All Ralph's Fault

As I posted several days ago Ralph over at Accidental Woodworker posted about his Record 44 troubles and I mentioned wood stock plows in a comment. Anyway cut to the chase, I've been obsessed with wood plows since. That inter tool collector I defeated several years ago came back in spades.

Right now I have three new plows to go along with the old work horse Sandusky and three more in transit plus two with bids out that I expect will be mine in a couple of days. That is the bad news, the good is all but two cost about the same or less that the shipping to get 'em to Tucson.

Here are a couple of less that $25 USD + postage plow planes. Both are wedge arm, I guess that makes them cheaper but truth is for some uses I like the wedge arm plows more than screw arm plows. Wedge arms are a little easier and quicker to set but are also easier to knock out of adjustment.

The plow on the left will eventually need one of the arm wedges replaced and it came with an iron that is much thinner than my Marple irons. I adjusted the wedge and the skate to work with the thicker Marple irons and it works like a champ.

The plow on the right needed a little more work. Its wedge didn't fit. I'm sure there may be a plow with a wedge less than 5/8" wide but I haven't seen one. This one's wedge couldn't have been over 1/2" wide. Needless to say it would not secure the iron. It's arm wedges were also funky in one of the wedges wasn't wide enough to wedge and it had a stick to help it hold and the other was not the correct shape for an arm wedge. Bottom line to get the plane to work properly I had to make a new cutter wedge and two new arm wedges. All three wedges were made from some Cherry scraps.

Both planes are now good users.

BTW, one of the plows in transit has a full set of original irons and the other has four irons with it. They cost slightly more than postage to get 'em here :-).

I'm still beavering away on the kitchen cart. The major joinery work is finished except for that needed for the bottom shelf and a single drawer. Both will be reasonably easy. The bottom shelf will use shallow double M/T joints and the drawer a dovetail box with a front. Because the cart will be in the kitchen and who knows what kind of crap will be in the drawer I'll use full extension metal slides on it. 

From the side:

Now it is just finding time to finish.

One more thought: These are some of the best fitting large M/T joints I've made. I think some of it is I've slightly changed how I mark and chop mortises. Instead of trying to chop perfect walls I've started marking the mortise slightly wide and chopping in the middle of the marks. Then placing a wide paring chisel into the marks to finish the mortise walls. Works great, thanks to Joel at TFWW for the suggestion.