Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Chair Bottom Finished

Levi's chair base is finished. I'll start the four sticks and top rail this afternoon after work, maybe, if it isn't too hot to work in the shop.

It may be a little high for Levi, if it is it is easy to cut down. I will include instructions on "how". If things do not get too crazy with work, critters, getting the motorhome ready for the Oregon trip and keeping Casa Chaos from falling down I could have the chair finished in a few days. Will not happen but I could.

Chair base, leveling the legs:


Monday, August 13, 2018

One Key Installed One To Go

One key in place, working on second:

Once the second key is glued in I'll clean up the seat and fit, wedge, and glue the legs in place. If I can find a few free moments this week the chair will be finished. Only problem, finding those few free moments matching up with a shop cool enough to work in.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Keys For The Seat Bottom

Because the seat is a glue up I'm keying the two halves, belts and suspenders dontchknow.

Next up after finishing the keys is cleaning up the seat and knocking the legs home. Once the legs are fitted the back slats and comb will finish the chair,

Work is trying to force my retirement or at least it seems that way. I've six days in a row starting Monday with one off followed by ten in a row. As much as I enjoy my work I don't enjoy that much of it in a row. I don't mail it in and after a line (usually three or four days depending on the Regs the crew is training under) I need a couple of days to recover. It ain't been happening.

All that is to say even though I'm near the short rows it may take a couple of weeks to finish the chair.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Progress On Levi's Chair

The legs, leg tenons, and seat mortises are done and fitted, kinda of. The left rear leg is a little off, I should be able to go in with the reamer and fix it enough so it isn't too noticeable.

I need to shape the seat, make four spindles and a crest rail to finish. Here are a few photos of the progress so far:

Setting up to ream the seat.

Checking progress.

Seat and legs.

As always click 'em to big 'em,


Friday, August 10, 2018

Chair Leg Blanks Finished

Four leg blanks finished and ready to shape the tenons on the lathe.

Even with the short legs and the woodie, it is a sweatathon this time of year. There were a lot of water breaks getting to this point.

I can't say I'm in the short rows but just four small back spindles and a crest rail to go before fitting it all together.

BTW, the little portable bench is amazing. Solid as a rock, perfect height for planing, and the wood screw leg vise holds better than any vise I've used. It is a joy to work on.

I haven't heard from the woodstore about the Ash for the new bench but Lake Erie Toolworks emailed the wood screw for the vise is on the way. We are only a couple of weeks away from the Oregon trip so even if the Ash shows up next week I don't expect the bench will be finished before the middle of Oct. or latter.

See you guys on down the road,


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Ten Pounds In A Five Pound Box

In the never ending quest the move the deck chairs, to fit the ten pounds in a five pound box, I shoved the machines around the shop this morning.

A couple of things set me off. First the band saw and the planer are my most used machines and both had restricted movement areas. So all the sweating and huffing was to clear up the work space around the band saw and the planer. Also I expect to replace the Ricon bandsaw with a 18" Powermatic the next time the Powermatic's go on sale. If that happens, the table saw may go away fixing some of the space problem.

A couple photos of the new arrangement. Dust collection and electrical are not hooked up yet because I want live with the placement for a bit first.

I hate to give the table saw away but it is used very little and it takes needed space. The shame is if it is sold I might be able to take MsBubba out for a good dinner on the sale, maybe.


Shaping The Legs

I'm shaping the leg blanks for Levi's chair before taking them to the lathe to turn the tapered tenons. I've found the best tool for shaping the legs is a ECE Jack plane with a light camber. It is light, easy to hold, and can be set to take good chunks of wood each pass without turning your arms to noodles.

I'm not sure how the chair will look when finished. The seat is near full size but the legs will put seat height at about 250mm vs. 460mm for an adult chair. Whatever, it should be bulletproof. 


Monday, August 06, 2018

Tormek SE-77

Simple changes can make big differences. In my love/hate relationship with the T-7 sharpening system most of the hate came from the SE-76 jig. It would not handle thick irons or ones without parallel sides and if anything was out of alinement you just had to live with it. In addition it was (almost) impossible to camber an iron.

The new SE-77 jig addresses almost all of those difficulties. Best of all it makes putting a camber on your cutters very easy. Here is one of my Jack plane's iron fresh off the Tormek.

Most of the time I do not grind but this iron had a couple of deep chips and after few minutes on a 120 grit diamond plate and no real progress it was off to the Tormek. As you can see a nice smooth camber and was quick and easy. Also it gives a very good base for sharpening by hand until I do another deep chip.

For some time I've had one green eye and one red with the Tormek. Stop/Go, sell it or not. The Se-77 changed all that, it would be a hard job to pry it out of my cold dead hands now.


Sunday, August 05, 2018

New Welsh Stick Chair for The Grandpeanut

The boy child and his wife just had a new grandpeanut, a girl type named Abby Ray. She's a cute little sucker but I guess all grandparents say the same. Anyway the first grandpeanut isn't much of a peanut anymore. They grow fast.

With two of 'em they need another chair for the table and chair set I made a couple of years ago. I started on it this morning. This one will be a small Welsh stick chair. What I expect will happen is the old chair and table will be passed down to Abby Ray and sometime in the next year I will make a new table and a couple more chairs for Levi that are a little larger than the current ones.

Here are a couple of photos drilling the mortises for the legs.

Down the sight line:

The resultant:

Click 'em to big 'em.

I've really starting to like building vernacular furniture and even better I like looking at and using the builds. As a hand tool wood worker stick chairs, staked tables, and boarded chests just fit my house and my eye.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

12/4 Ash

I took the motorhome to the shop yesterday so they can look at a couple of squawks before we leave for Oregon. The woodstore is just a few blocks away from the shop so I stopped by to see if there was any word when my Ash would be delivered. They said maybe the first week in August. I'm not betting on it but if it is I may be able to finish the bench before we head to the PNW. If not then the bench build could stretch into Thanksgiving. I hope not but it could.


Package of Love From UK

Several days ago the ten Marples bevel edge chisels from the UK showed up in the mail. They are pretty much what the photos showed and what I expected. The Boxwood handles are dark from use, there is plenty of blade life left, and the steel is in good shape. Whoever owned the chisels took good care of them.

That person was either or maybe both a carver and "old school". The backs have never been flattened. You can see a very slight bevel on the back of each chisel. Carvers are known to sharpen that way as are old school wood workers. I've heard Richard, The English Woodworker, talk about his father lifting the chisel a few degrees when working the back of his chisels. He usually says something like "I can't stop the old man from doing it".

I've a decision to make. Either I waste maybe a mm of steel to rid the back of the slight bevel or I just continue the practice. At this time I'm pretty agnostic. I will say I've plenty of flat backed chisels to use.

A photo of the ten:

Because I was out of chisel rack room I had to find someplace to store 'em. After a bit of butt scratching I figured if I moved the long chisel rack down a bit and the short chisel rack up just a little there would be room for another rack between. Because the racks were going to be so close I put a floor and guard on the two short chisel racks.


A photo of the bench wall with the tool chest. I know it doesn't look like it but I've cleaned up the storage and moved almost all the tools that are not in daily or frequent use somewhere else.

As always click 'em to big 'em.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Slab Is Done.

Damn it is a heavy sucker. I'm a few years older than when I made the main bench slab and with it I did the whole thing single handed. This time I had help and the two of us old farts wasn't enough I had to call on help from the neighbor. Even with three it kicked our butts.

Whatever it is done and stacked in a corner out of the way until it is needed to fit on the base. For now I'm dead in the water until the 12/4 Ash is delivered.

After this afternoons sweatfest a break may be good. I just hope it isn't too long.

A photo of the slab standing in the corner:


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Slab Glue Up Done

The last of the slats/slabs are in the clamps. Towards the end those suckers were heavy for just one old fart to move around. MsBubba made it home just in time to help with the final glue up and moving everything in place to clamp. What a difference four hands and arms make.

Tomorrow a friend will help me take the slab out of the clamps, check it for wind and run it through the planer until everything that is not a slab is removed.

In the clamps:


Outer Slabs

One outer slab is out of the clamps and one is in until I return from my AM Sim. Those suckers are getting heavy, or at least they seem to to this OF. Truth is they are slightly less than 70 lbs. each.

This afternoon I'll join the two outer slabs with the middle slats to complete the bench top. Tomorrow I've asked a friend over for whisky and a little help running the joined slab through the planer to finish it off.

Now I just need to get my hands on the 12/4 Ash to start the base. I would like to finish before the Oregon trip but who knows, depends on the Ash and vise screw.

One glued up outer slab and one ready for glue up:

MsBubba leaves tomorrow for Houston to "help out" with the new Grandpeanut. The dogs and I will be without adult supervision for a few days. Extra dog biscuits for all and I might be able to have a big bowl of sticky rice :-).


Monday, July 16, 2018

Slab Glue Up

I've started gluing up the slab. Because of the weight and size the 10 slats will be glued up 2 at a time. Once I have 5 sets of doubled slats I'll glue 2 of the doubled slats together to make the two sides of the slab and then finally use the remaining doubled slat to tie the two sides together. It will take longer but reference surface clean up will be easier and I will only have to deal with the full weight of the slab and a smaller reference surface clean up at the end. Doing it this way will also allow use of the machines with the exception of the last reference surface clean up. Once all the glue ups are together I will have to do the final reference surface clean up by hand but the top of the slab can be cleaned up and dimensioned with the planner. I expect I'll find a friend to help with the final passes through the planer. Hopefully a little single malt or some Jack will be enough to entice.

As I lay the slats out for glue up I check for grain direction and mark with an arrow. You may be able to see the arrow in this photo:

Next is about a 1/3 bottle of glue and clamp those suckers together, then walk away for a few hours:

Click 'em to big 'em.

In the background are the other 6 slats waiting their turn, One set is out of the clamps. It's slow going but for the most part easier on the back.

BTW, if it all fails and things get cattywompus I've 25mm to play with before reaching my desired minimum slab thickness. 


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pre-WWII Marple Chisels

For awhile I've chased pre-WWII Marples chisels. That quest may be over. I've a full set of Boxwood handled firmer chisels, a near full set of Boxwood handled paring/pattern maker chisels and gouges, and today I whipped out the AmEx to pay for 10 beautiful Boxwood handled beveled edge chisels all pre-war.

If I could find a set of Ash London pattern handle firmer or bevel edge pre-war chisels I would buy but I feel no need to look. A stumble across would be nice but...

Photos when they arrive from U.K.

New Grandpeanut & Workbench

At one point last night MsBubba, while I slept, whispered we have a new kid in town. I'm not sure of her name or even if it was a dream but I'll bet it's true.

Yesterday I ripped the Beech lumber into slats. Today starts the real work on the bench, getting the slab wood ready for glue up. other than the completed slab and base, these are the heaviest hunks of wood to be worked. It's almost a toss up between doing the prep by hand or machine. I'll start using the machines but may end up finishing mostly by hand.

Here are the rough cut beech slats. Each is approximately 45mmX100mmX2150mm. Two of the slats will be dressed on only one edge and one face. The rest will be dressed on one edge and both faces.

I'll glue up in two's so I'm only dealing with one glue surface at a time. It takes longer that way but I think is easier and less backbreaking until you start dealing with putting the glue ups together.

Once everything is done I'll be shooting for a finished >75mmX~400mmX2100mm slab. That's in the range of 3"X16"X7' for the metric challenged. BTW, each slat weights ~17 lbs., the finished slab will be close to 170 lbs. My best guess the finished bench will be over 300 lbs and maybe close to 400 lbs.

It should be heavy enough to stay put but at the same time break down into manageable parts for moving when needed. That is the major problem with the French/English main bench, without the neighborhood or a fork lift that sucker is immoveable. 

I talked to the woodstore manager yesterday, I made a return trip because of a BF the day before and I was short one board of Beech, he said the order for my 12/4 Ash was made too late to be in yesterday's shipment. That was the reason it wasn't there but he would see if they could get a special delivery next week. We will see, I really don't want to drive to Phoenix and back. 

Anyone want to learn how to make a Moravian bench? Have I got a deal for you :-).


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Game Is On

I've started the new shop sized Moravian workbench. This morning I ordered the vise screw kit from Lake Erie Toolworks. They said to expect four weeks for delivery. I hope it is a little quicker if all goes well and the base wood is delivered next week I should be ready for the screw within the four weeks.

I went to the woodstore looking for slab wood. With the exception of Poplar, European Beech is the cheapest hardwood in the store. Go figure. I have no problem with it, Beech makes a great slab, I just wish I could get it 12/4. Of course after wrestling almost 70 BF of 8/4 beech into the bed of the truck and out again in +38*C temps I may have been happy it wasn't 12/4.

Here are the Beech boards ready to cut into 100mmX2150mm boards for slab glue up. Even at the reduced size they are heavy suckers.

If the Ash can't be delivered by next week, I think there is enough 12/4 White Oak in the woodstore stock for the base. Only problem is it would almost double the cost of the base.

It is getting harder and harder for this OF to work with bench timbers without help. I've not a clue how I'm going to address it other than working smarter because I would hate to stop building benches. Getting old sucks.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Marple Chisels Old vs. New

As usual I awoke early, too early to bang around in the shop. What will usually occupy my early morning time is just putzing around cleaning the shop or sharpening iron. This morning what caught my eye was a set of post WWII Marples London pattern firmer chisels. I picked them up several months ago on a whim, not a clue why because I will usually pass on post war chisels. Let's cut to the chase.

As I was looking them over I was surprised by the weight and feel of the chisels. They felt heavy and unbalanced. I just happen to have a pre-WWII London pattern firmer to do a A&B comparison. The pre-war chisel weighed in at 92g, the post-war 102g. Handle size was also different. Pre-war handle measured just under 25mm, post-war just over 26mm. Anyway small differences but with a big difference in "feel".

A photo of the two:

Click image for larger version.

Pre-War on top. Some of the weight and length difference could be because of the number of sharpening but the post-War handle is much bigger.

I haven't used the post-war chisels yet so no clue as to the quality of the iron. Anyway something to amuse and keep from waking MsBubba too early.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tool Tray

I shipped the changing table out this AM. Sure was good to get it out of the shop, sure cost a penny or two to get it to Houston.

My shop is too small and has too many benches, machines, and stuff to have more than one project going at any time. I expect a new shop sized Moravian bench is the next project but before that build I wanted to fix something that was bugging me about the portable Moravian bench.

I have a split slab on the main bench and it works very well. Because it works well on the main bench I tried a split slab on the portable bench. Problem, there is less real estate on the portable bench making the secondary slab is too small. There was always danger that things would be knocked off. It never happened but there were several close calls. Anyway cut to the chase: After thinking about it and several seconds of butt scratching I decided the best approach would be to re-saw the slab and use it to make a tool tray and that's how I spent the afternoon.

The good news, by using the bottom of the slab for the bottom of the tool tray it already had the holes for the pegs and all I had to do was clean it up after the re-saw and and take the top part of the re-saw to make the edge of the tool tray. It was pretty quick and dirty, the only reason it took most of the afternoon was waiting for the glue to dry.

Anyway here are a couple or three photos, one staged as if working:

From the other side:

I had to put it to use:

Damn I love this little bench. I find I use it as much as and maybe more than the main bench. The wood screw vise is faster than the QR metal vise and holds better. Also the bench is perfect height for planing with metal planes. 

As always click 'em to big 'em.

A couple of things I think I will like about the tool tray: I kept the split so I can hold chisels, saws, and squares in the split. I can also use the split to clean out the tool tray without removing it from the bench. I may do the same type tool tray on the big Moravian bench. 


Monday, July 09, 2018

Changing Table Finished

I just finished that sucker with one coat of Danish oil. I expect a couple more coats and then I'll ship to Houston. She went in labor this AM, so it is a good example of "just in time" supply. Who said woodworkers couldn't be modern.

Ralph, I decided to not put a rail on it. I'll do a post on "blind pegging" later.


P.S. Did I mention how much I hate painting. MsBubba will pay for finking out on me :-).

White Mountains For The 4th

 MsBubba, Sam the Wonder Dog. Sweet Maggie Dog, and I spent the weekend in Alpine, AZ. Alpine is a throw back to the 1950's small western mountain town, elevation 8,000' MSL.  It has a small tourist component (folks from the southern desert trying to escape the Summer heat) but is mostly ranching and timber. The small tourist component is because it is on the north AZ/NM border and far from anyplace (260 odd miles from Tucson) and hard to get to, seven to eight hours in the motorhome over mostly narrow, twisty mountain roads. BTW, one of the best motorcycle roads in the U.S., HYW 191 or by it's old number HYW 666 the Devil's HWY is the southern road into Alpine, it is unusable by the motorhome. HYW 191 runs from the Mexican border to Canada though some of the most spectacular parts of the western U.S. such as Monument Valley, Flaming Gorge, Jackson, WY, and YellowStone. 

Saturday morning there was a small 4th of July parade and the evening featured fireworks, kinda neat. At 8,000' it was cool to cold at night and Monsoon was active with afternoon showers. MsBubba and I kayaked, the dogs swam, we cooked out and did a little reading and napping. In other words a very good and relaxing weekend.

This morning I picked up the needed drawer slides, and fitted the drawer and front piece. All that is left to do is make a pull, clean up the top and drawer face, put a little oil on the bare wood and ship that sucker to Houston.

The top and drawer face ended up being made from some Cherry shorts and one piece of Cherry scrap I had in the shop.

Not my best work but then I expect it will be fire wood in a year or so. BTW, did I tell you how much I hate painting.

On to making a new workbench and I expect some chairs to follow. I found some 12/4 Ash for a good price to make the bench base and I expect some chairs as well. I should have it in hand in a couple of weeks.


Sunday, July 01, 2018

Cleaning Up Changing Table Drawer

The changing table in the background has a dusty green base coat and two coats of white. I expect it will need at least three more coats of white. It sure looks blue in the photo, in reality the green is still showing through.

I'm finishing up the drawer, the sides will need planing both to clean up and to narrow.

The front and back tails are flush, just the sides to go.

I should finish prepping the top boards and I hope get 'em in the clamps sometime today. The fat lady in in the building.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

BBQ Finished

The brisket was put in the pit around 0700 and finished at 1600. After pulling the brisket I put a half dozen Luling City Market sausages on to warm while the brisket was setting up.

My favorite piece  is the first burnt end cut, it usually tells the tale, a great brisket or just ok.

This is a great brisket. 

It was hard to wait, the first few cuts disappeared before I could take a photo.  A near perfect brisket. Tender, juicy, and full flavored, see the smoke ring.

On to wood working.

The changing table has two base coats of milk paint. We (maybe MsBubba) will start the finish coats in the AM and I hope to have the top glued up before it gets too hot to work in the shop. The drawer just needs to be cleaned up. Of course MsBubba in the pool with a Martini changes all plans.


BBQ Today

The pit is smoking, the brisket has been rubbed and placed for the last couple of hours. The WX is good for BBQ, little wind and hot so the pit stays on temp with little tending. That's the good news, the bad after kinda putting one coat of milk paint on the changing table MsBubba finked out. I believe her words were "no mas, no mas".

Anyway, dual duty today, paint brush in one hand, BBQ chef's hat in the other.

The drawer is glued up, the Cherry is rough dimensioned and is waiting to be joined and glued. I hope this sucker will be finished by the early part of next week and shipped out. I'm ready to get it out of my shop.

Shop sized Moravian work bench is next. It will be very much like the portable bench except with a thicker slab (I expect a glue up), and some place close to 2400mm long and 600mm wide.  For the base I'm dithering between Oak and Poplar, Unless something else wonderful comes along the slab will be Beech.

BTW, between BBQ, the bible thumpers, and political folks at my door it is hard to maintain concentration. I may just give up and watch the pit with whisky in's Saturday.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Being Old Sucks

I've been feeling ragged out for several days. I blamed it on work schedule and lack of a good night's sleep. Yesterday as I was doing my prep work for the day's Sim I thought "this feels like Afib, let's check it out with the little handy dandy portable EKG attachment on my phone." Sure enough it reported "possible Afib" with a pulse of 120 bpm. Damn, I thought that shit was over. It had been several years with no trouble. I went ahead and did the Sim secession and once home took my meds, MsBubba gave a listen and said while the rate was a little high the beat was trying to convert. I'll monitor today and decide if I can give the afternoon check ride or go to the Doc. The good news is after today I'm off until the 9th. The bad is I'm still old.

Just checked pulse and BP, the heart rate is near normal of high 60's low 70's and BP is a little low. I may be converting. BTW, sorry about the old fart's rambling about medical conditions but this blog is my journal and is how I keep track of "stuff".

On to, maybe, something of more interest. The changing table is together and is waiting on MsBubba finding time to paint the base. I'm putting together the drawer. The tails are cut, next are the pins and the bottom grove. As I fully expect in a year or so the changing table will become fire wood the drawer will have a applied front of what ever wood the top ends up made from and the drawer will have metal slides. That said, the table is stout with all the joints either draw bored or pegged.

The top will be attached with "Z" hooks and I plan on putting a rail around it to help hold the changing pad. The rail will be attached with loose fitted dowels that have been "blind pegged" so the rail can be removed when no longer needed. As stated above I've a few days off before the 4th's trip to the White Mountains (I'm still advocating for Mexico but expect to be overruled) so my part of the build should be finished in a few days.

BTW, we in the States are fucked. When you think it can't get any worst, it does.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Changing Table Glue Up

MsBubba saved my bacon today. Two hands are seldom enough for a complex glue up even when using a long open time liquid hide glue. She stepped up to the plate and made difficult easy.

Then afterwards shot a few photos. Gotta love that woman.

Cleaning up glue:

One more:

Out of the clamps tomorrow for MsBubba to do her magic with Milk Paint. 

I may start the drawer this evening after it cools off....If I don't have too much Whisky and fun chasing MsBubba around the pool this afternoon.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Changing Table

Some progress on the DIL's changing table in spite of few days off over the last month or so. I expect it will be finished before the big event if I can find a couple of days to work on it.

The base is Poplar and MsBubba has volunteered to paint it with Milk Paint. Which is a good thing for several reasons, I hate to paint and it usually shows plus one of the draw bore pegs blew out the back side of the leg. A little pooky and paint and no one will know.

It is together to measure the lower slats. Once the slats are made I'll clean up everything and hope I can get help on the glue up.

Then it will be on to making and installing a drawer to finish the base. The top will be some nice Cherry from the wood pile unless something else catches my eye.

A couple of photos:

From the other side:

BTW, that's a story stick with markings for the lower stretchers and slats inside the base. Story sticks come in very handy for fitting those kind of pieces.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Love From The UK

USPS dropped a couple of boxes off today. One had the Late 19th early 20th Century Marple Paring/Pattern Maker chisels. Also in the goodies was a UK made plow with a full set of irons and a Washita stone.

The Marple chisels are as close to mint as any I've seen that were not new. I've been looking for a set of pre-WWII Marple paring chisels for it seems years hoping to pick up one here and one there. Almost every one I've seen had something wrong, mostly pitted back sides and for these I wanted chisels with clean blades.

This set just fell into my lap a couple of weeks ago via an email for one of my UK dealers. The photos looked very good, the chisels look even better. It is hard to believe these chisels are at least 85 years old and may be over a hundred.

The Plow and the Washita stone, what can I say other than I'm a sucker for both wood stock Plows and natural stones. Good Washita stones are getting very hard to find.

Here's the group:

I keep telling myself I'm not a collector, I'm down sizing, and this is the last time I fall off the wagon. We will see.


Saturday, June 02, 2018

White Mountains

We spent a long weekend in Alpine, AZ. Alpine is just over 8000' MSL, the nights were in the 30's and days not over 75F. It was delightful. I left the portable workbench in Tucson because it was going to be a short stay. We are going back the 4th. of July for a longer stay and the bench will be going. It will be good to give it a proving run before Oregon in Sept.

I'm making a "Changing Table" for the expected new Grandpeanut. It is marked out for the most part and about half the mortises are chopped. I expect it will be slow going because it is Summer in Tucson and shop time is limited by the heat in addition to my work schedule.

Because the mortises are narrow and a little deep I'm using the drill and pare method. I must say it is going well so far. You gotta love a good set of Jennings bits and a brace.

These are the two back legs, the front legs will connect with a double tenon lower stretcher and a dovetail top stretcher. In addition to the drawer there will be a lower shelf to hold wicker baskets.

More photos to follow once there is enough done to kinda see what it will look like.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Portable Moravian Workbench Update

After finishing the portable bench build I wanted to work on it before schlepping it all over the PNW and other points of interest. I moved the old joinery/assembly bench against the wall under the wood storage and set up the portable bench in its place. I've been working on the bench for a couple or three weeks now and it has exceeded all expectations. In fact in many ways I like working on it better than the main English/French bench.

The Lake Erie Toolworks wood screw has made the best woodworking vise I've used. It is fast 2 turns/inch and holds like no other. The bench itself is rock solid in both directions, it is hard to believe a bench that can't weight much more than 200lbs total can be this solid. I only have one quibble with the bench as a daily user, it is too short. Just not enough total real estate, wide enough but needs to be longer.

I expect to take care of that some time in the next year. After the PMW trip the portable bench will find a home in the motorhome's side bins and I will build another Moravian bench to shop size, about 600mmX2500mm. Approximately 2'X8' for those still stuck in the world of hands and stones. 

I'm making a "Changing Table" per the DIL's request (the new Grandpeanut is due around the first of July). It will be painted so the wood is Poplar. All the parts are sized and I'm in the process of marking out before doing the joinery. I expect a good part of the joinery will be done on the small bench. 

Here it is with one of the legs in the vise for marking out:

As always....Click it to big it.


Friday, May 18, 2018


On one of the forums I follow, a sickness I know but sometimes they are worth a grin, has a thread going on cheap chisels vs. expensive chisels. If I read the posts correctly the consensus is the cheap ones stay sharp about as long as the expensive chisels and therefore are as good. Of course one of the posters claimed he could use his Aldi chisels for 6 to 8 hours without needing to re-sharpen. I'm sure he could but I have to question what he call sharp.

Bottom line I think the folks over there are asking the wrong questions. The difference between good chisels and bad isn't how long they stay sharp but is a question of "balance" of how the chisel feels in hand and how much effort it is to sharpen and will it stay working sharp long enough to do work. Bad chisels fail at one or more of those qualities.

None of those questions can be answered for you, you have to take chisel to wood and live with it for awhile. In time it will either drive you barking mad, become your best friend, or just an ok tool and only you can decide which it is.

A corollary to all that is tool writers/reviewers are a terrible influence on both buyers and producers. They have to write about something so they write about the type of steel, how long it will hold an "edge", are the bevels "fine" and so on, anyway you know the results. A2 steel for paring chisels, almost no firmer chisels being produced, heavy planes i.e. Bedrock planes instead of Bailey pattern planes, thick irons, and cap irons that do not help control tear out. We are poorer as woodworkers because of their influence.

Ok, I'll get back on my meds but first is a photo I made for the chisel thread. Some of my 12mm/13mm (1/2") chisels with weight in grams. From left to right: Lee Valley PM (113g), Sorby (131g), Marple (107g), Ashly Iles (111g), Swiss Made (105g), Koyamaichi #2 White Steel (109g), and not pictured Kikuhiromaru #1 White Steel (99g)

Click it to big it.

My two favorite Western chisels, the ones that best meet the needed balance of a good chisel, are the pre-war Marples and the Ashly Iles. The other favorite user (not pictured) is the #1 White Steel Kikuhiromaru. Of all the chisels I own the Marples have the best balance of feel and steel. Of course as always....YMMV.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

More BBQ

Sometimes the BBQ gods smile from on high.

I've cooked a lot of BBQ and I can't remember any ever being bad or even less than good. I also can't remember a brisket ever being this good. It is unbelievably tender. The BBQ gods truly did smile on the pit today. What started out as just a sample to check it out has become at least a pound gone.

Here it is with some of the first cuts:

A short BBQ primer: If aluminum foil touches the meat at anytime in the process it ain't BBQ. It is likely smokey steamed roast but it ain't BBQ. If it is covered with a sweet sauce it ain't BBQ. I'm not sure what it is other than an abomination but it sure isn't BBQ. Of course I'm missing the most important part of Texas BBQ...A roll of butcher paper and a Big Red.  

Good eats for the next few days.



A couple of days ago a client was in the "snake pit" filling out a FAA form on one of the computers. I had typed him several years ago so we visited for a bit, he mentioned he would like some good BBQ. I don't need much excuse to fire up the pit and with MsBubba in Houston visiting the kids instead of in the background kvetching about "dead cows" and smoke it is a done deal.

Cut to the chase, I was almost out of pit wood this morning so I got the pit warming up but had to go buy enough wood to finish. This time they didn't have a good selection but did have one short cord of Pecan for $100 USD. Zero on Oak in stock and they said it might be mid Summer before any came in. That's maybe bad news because I want some Oak for chair parts as well as pit wood.

Anyway, here is the brisket a couple or three hours from being finished:

The day has been windy so the pit has been a little fussy but no big deal, it gives me an excuse to forget the honey-dos and enjoy minding the pit with whisky in hand.



Monday, May 07, 2018

Leg Vise

I've never been a leg vise fanboy. After using one for a couple of years I thought they were a fad, fussy, and fiddly with holding power no better if not worst than a Metal QR vise. Those opinions came from having a metal screw leg vise on my main workbench off and on for almost two years and using leg vises with metal screws in other shops. After a couple of years going back and forth between the leg vise and my old English QR vise when I build the new bench it was the English vise all the way.

For the last bench build because it was designed to break down and be portable I decided to use a wood screw leg vise. I'm not sure what the weight difference is but it is considerable and the leg vise is easy to break down into parts. It was a no brainer.

I ordered the screw from Lake Erie Toolworks. The premium kit is $250 USD.  Here it is installed on the Moravian Bench:

This wood screw has totally changed my opinion of leg vises. The fad part still holds but the fussy, fiddly and lack of holding power are no longer operative. Two things, it is fast, to go from holding a 4/4 board to one that is 12/4 is as fast as the QR if not faster and holding is unbelievable. I whacked the hell out of the board in the vise with a mallet and it did not budge a mm. Not that I would do it but I believe I could chop a deep mortise in the vise, it holds that well.

The only problem now is I've been eyeing the main bench with the thought of retro-fitting a wood screw leg vise. There ain't no way that I can see to do it with less work than building a whole new bench and this bench is close to perfect as it sets.  But damn it would be nice if it had as good a vise as my portable bench.

See you guys on down the road,


Tuesday, May 01, 2018

It Is Good To Have A Travel Bench

MsBubba wanted a storage shed and the other day while at Costco she spotted a prefab shed for an ok price, a little cheaper than I could build one and a little faster to erect as well. Not as good but good enough for the job.

I build the base fondation (in the background) yesterday and this morning started putting all the pieces together. That's the bad news, the good news; I needed to take the travel bench apart anyway to plane and sand off the making marks so I might as well set it up in the back garden to work on.

It has been a back saver. Everyone needs a portable bench even if you do not know you need one.

About half way through "insert tab UZY into RBV, secure using screw ACX" I was wishing I'd went ahead and just built from scratch. I expect we will start the building, putting the structure together, tomorrow.


Friday, April 27, 2018

More Of The 10lbs In A 5lb Space

I rearranged the deck chairs this afternoon in hopes of finding room to work in the shop. The old assembly/joiner bench moved to the East wall of the shop, under the wood stack. The new bench moved to where the old assembly/joiner bench called home and the main bench stayed in place.

Because the Moravian bench is smaller it gives the feeling of more space in the shop. We will see how it works out but whatever, I want the chance to work on the travel bench before the Fall PNW trip.

From behind the main bench with travel bench and old assembly bench to the left:

Looking West to East:

Another West to East:

One of the things I've learned after building so many benches and then working on 'em is that most of the folks writing about workbenches are mostly talking out of their ass. I'm not sure I could do a better job or would want to but first time bench builders are not well served.

I'll go back to my mantra: Build it cheap, simple, strong, and quickly then go to work on it making furniture. After working on it for awhile build another correcting all the things that drive you barking at the moon mad about the first build. After three or four builds then if you wish spend a few bucks on nice wood.

Of course....YMMV.


BTW, that's Sam the Wonder Dog photobombing the second photo. I'm sure he was looking for a rawhide bone.