Sunday, March 30, 2014

Single IronPlane

Lee Valley has offered tapered plane irons for awhile. I finely got around to ordering a couple and yesterday I made a Krenov pattern plane with a Beech stock using one.

They're pretty slick. If you are like me and hate powered routers the cutting of the mortise for the double iron screw is the most time consuming step in making a Krenov plane. A single iron doesn't need one so there is one less step to screw up.

Anyway, the first is out of the clamps. I tried it on some Cherry scrap, works beautifully, easy to set and holds the set. About the only down side is the iron is a little longer than the Hock Krenov irons. I can live with that.

It's not the best stock I've made, the mouth is a little loose but it works so I'll add it to my user shelf.

Sunday Morning

I had a root canal type procedure done Friday, it was warranty work on a root canal done several months ago. The first was bad enough, a second is a PITA. Anyway the side of my face is swollen, my jaw hurts and I've very little sleep for the last couple of nights. That's the bad news, the good is sleepless nights are usually spent in the shop and the last couple held true to form.

I ordered a couple of tapered irons from LV and they arrived just in time to make a plane last night. It is in the clamps as I type, once out of the clamps I'll drill for the cross pin and finish the wedge. It will be interesting to see how it works vs. a double iron plane made the same way and of the same wood.

I'm also sawing the tenons for the third side table. I had hoped to finish it this weekend but no joy, Friday was lost because of the root canal and Saturday wasn't a lot better and today I will lose some time taking the critters for a ride in the truck.

One thing I did accomplish this weekend was ordering the Beech for a new work bench build but most of all sleepless nights afford time to think (sometimes thinking is the reason for the sleepless night, yeah I know it gets a little circular), The thoughts de jour were how can anyone live with out making things, it doesn't have to be furniture, it could be anything but I would be lost without tools and work. A life of TV, booze, and whatever would be one not worth living.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mortise Chopping and the Third Side Table

I'm almost finished chopping the mortises for the third side table. Unless I change my mind today, this table will have a small drawer in a Cherry base. Top TBD.

I read about all the "quick and/or easy" ways of making mortises and it's something I don't get. While I can understand a production shop using a hollow chisel mortiser, for a one off guy like myself it is quicker and easier to mark, take chisel and mallet in hand, and just start.....tap, tap, tap, and push. Do it until you reach the end, come back and take the starting section to depth, go to the next one. Takes very little time to do the eight for a table plus it is one of the most enjoyable operations in the process of making furniture. Once in the rhythm, smelling the wood, feeling and controlling the chisel as it breaks the divot free is a great pleasures that is lost using other methods.

Forgive, it is early morning, I'm minutes away from putting on the monkey suit and heading to work, and too much morning coffee.....but I sure enjoyed the 15-30 minutes I spent chopping mortises this morning, two more this afternoon and the legs will be ready to fit the tenons.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sharpening Old Iron

Most of the time if I can figure out how things were done 100 years or more ago that is the best way to do it now. There is always a but....Flattening the back of irons may be one of the buts. One of the reasons I will replace old irons with new ones from Hock or LV, if they are available, is the vast majority of old irons will have evidence of a previous sharpening where that day's "ruler trick" was used, whatever they called it then.

What brings this to mind is for the last couple of days I've worked, as long at a time as I could stand, to sharpen the irons of a 1/2 set of hollows and rounds. All of the backs are bellied back from the edge as if the ruler trick was used and of course there is no way to buy new replacement irons. I have a choice, use the ruler trick myself which I have an aversion to and would condemn to hell (if there were one) anyone that does that to an iron or beaver away at getting the back flat.  So far beavering is winning but as the FSM knows I've looked with lust at my small metal ruler.  May she strike me dead.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Morning

I have today and tomorrow off, it's been a rare occurrence to have more than one day at a time off lately. What to do, what to do,,,,hummmm... how about something different, guess I will work in the shop.

I've the wood for the third side table rough dimensioned, it has been setting for a couple of days now, I hope it has finished doing stupid wood tricks and I can start finial dimensioning today.  Funny how things work out, from the start of the three table build I had planned on this table being mostly Red Oak but as I worked through my wood a nice riff sawn 8/4 Cherry slab caught my eye. There was just enough for four legs and a spare. With a little more digging I found a 6/4 Cherry board with nice figure  that would make the aprons. My Oak table will now be a Cherry table or at least the base will be, top to be determined latter.

I told you at the get go this would be random:

My first work bench was made of construction grade SYP, not because I was a fan of SYP or anything but because it was all that I had and could afford. This was before the internet, Fine Woodworking magazine was new on the market and woodworking was a wonderful opportunity to buy tools. If I could find 'em. BTW, Garret Wade's catalog was the major source. The bug bit and I lusted for a "real" work bench of Beech but that was just out of reach so SYP was it. As the years passed I discovered that the SYP bench did the job and I built other benches of SYP and bench envy went away. My current work bench was built of SYP a couple of years ago, that first SYP bench is still in my shop and serves as my sharpening bench, not bad for a bench built by a kid without a clue and only photos from a magazine to go by. Anyway enough ramblings by a OF, time to get to the point, well maybe just a little more digression first.

Over all these years I had never worked with Beech. A couple of weeks ago I found a nice 8/4 slab of Beech at the wood store and on a whim brought it home without a clue what to do with it. I just liked the look and feel of the wood. A couple of days later the local Woodcraft asked if I would teach a class on plane making this fall and like a fool I said I would "think about it".  Part of "thinking about it" was the realization I hadn't made a plane in almost a year and that maybe it would be a good idea to make one or two before committing to teaching a class. The wood of choice by the old plane makers was Beech, Thinking about it meet not a clue slab. I made a couple of Krenov style planes from the Beech and really enjoyed how it worked. Nice wood, heavy, hard as a rock but is amazingly sensual with edge tools. Beautiful look and feel with chisels and planes.

OK, I can now get to the point: Working with the Beech got me to thinking about how nice a Beech work bench would look and how nice it would feel to work on. BTW, looks has never before been high on my list of important attributes for my work benches, still isn't too high but damn the Beech feels good and it is pretty. I have room for another bench, I would like a second bench and I have a couple of mods I would make if I were building a new bench.

It may be a done deal, Beech top for sure, maybe a Beech base but most likely choice for the base will be Douglas Fir. BenchCrafted leg vise with Criss Cross and the hand wheel replaced by a "Johnson Bar", and as always I go round and round on the tail vise....will it have one or not. If it has a tail vise I expect it will be the Veritas Quick Release Sliding Tail Vise with associated dog holes only going about half way up the bench. I think I will drop the spilt top, the split gets in the way of holdfast hole placement and I think I will keep the sliding deadman. Oh, and the dog holes will be 3/4" round, not square.

Going to the Veritas tail vise and round dog holes has little to do with functionality but mostly with ease of build. Both the wagon vise and square holes work well but not enough to warrant the extra work. Same with the split, great for holding tools while working but I find I'm always wanting a holdfast dog hole right in the split and there are other ways to hold tools. I might bias the split more towards the back of the bench but most likely it will be a one piece top. I never use the dogs on the left half of the bench and if one were needed there are other ways to make a "stop", so the left half dog hole will go as well.
Size and height will remain about the same.

The leg vise on the current bench has been replaced by a metal vise until I can replace the hand wheel with a Johnson bar. My hands are not as strong as they once were and the wheel is too difficult to close and open tight enough to hold work.

Here is a photo of the current bench:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Wood Stock Plane

MsOK only caught me once today, she needed help planting a tree. Other than tree planting duties, most of the day was in the shop or running back and forth to Woodcraft.

The morning was spent doing the finish work on the side table, afternoon on making a plane.

A couple of weeks ago I found some nice Beech, I've never really worked with Beech but it was clear and straight so I thought it was worth a try. My first impression while moving the board to the saw bench was "damn, this stuff is heavy". After cross cutting a 8/4 200mm wide board and thinking about resting about half way through was it is hard too. Then after cutting out the blank, came the chopping of the mortise for the chip breaker screw head, the Beech works really nice but it is hard and dense, my back may never forgive me, but I can see why it has been the wood of choice for traditional plane makers.

Anyway, cut to the chase: Beech makes a really nice plane. The one I made today has a 45mm Hock O1 iron and chip breaker. The stock is just under 70mm wide X 400mm long, and is about 45mm tall. After the build and before applying BLO I trued the edge of a Cherry board with it and it worked beautifully.

I think it will be a keeper.

BTW, one of the nice things about making your own planes is like this one can start out as a 400mm (about 16") plane but who know where it will end up.....anywhere from staying around 400mm to a Jack, or even a smoother, about the only thing I doubt I would do with it is make it into a block plane.

Second Table Update

It's finished, in the sitting room, and MsOK has given a thumbs up so I guess it will hang around for awhile. The kids and/or Goodwill dodged another one.

I finished the base, Cherry and Sycamore, with Tried & True and rubbed out with Staples Crystal Clear Wax. The Red Oak top also with Tried & True but rubbed out with Staples Dark Brown Wax. The Staples Dark Brown Wax over Tried & True has become my favorite finish for Red Oak.

With the top attached the table looks better, still not my favorite but it doesn't make me want to take an axe to it. At least not today.

On to making a couple wood stock planes and roughing out the wood for the third table. That plus walking the large, hairy, smelly, critters and a Woodcraft visit for morning coffee should finish my one day off this week. Monday starts another week of Groundhog Days.

BTW, there ain't nothing like a couple critters to bring joy into your life even if they are large, hairy and smelly or maybe it is because they are. Sweet Maggie Dog is my shop dog, Sam the Wonder Dog is a little bit of a wuss and just stands at the door peeking in hoping for a raw hide bone.

Sweet Maggie Dog:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

House Keeping

I found a Red Oak board that was perfect size for the side table , it is in the clamps soon to be removed.

I went back to the metal vise yesterday, hung it outside the legs. The leg vise looks right and the metal vise is butt ugly and I like the way the leg vise works but.....damn there is always a but, my hands are no longer as strong as they once were and with the wheel on the leg vise is just too hard to get the leg vise tight or loose. I've been trying to find a "Johnson bar" attachment that will fit the vise screw but no joy so far.

The change of the vise caused the bench planning stop to be in the way, so it needed to be removed. I found a couple of knobs with 3/8" studs to make an adjustable planning stop. I drilled a couple of 15/16" holes in the left end of the bench, tapped 'em with a 3/8" 16 tap, chopped a couple of 45 degree channels in a piece of scrap Oak and now my planning stop is out of the way, on the end of the bench and adjustable.

If I can stay out of MsOK's radar range tomorrow, I have some very nice 8/4 beech for an upcoming project, there is enough for me to cut off one edge for making a few planes. By tomorrow night I may have a new wood stock smoother and jack.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Second Side Table finished Except for Top

The second of three side tables is finished except for the top and is sitting soaking up a coat of Tried & True.  It's a nice table, sturdy as I can make one but I'm not satisfied with the wood, look, or something, not sure what I don't like but....It doesn't make me want to sit with a cup of tea and just look. Oh well the next one may and MsOK is happy with it, so I will just go on down the road.

Glue Up

I did a little better planning with this table and made sure there was enough "meat" on the legs to draw bore the tenons. It sure makes glue up time easier, a little glue, a whole lot of glue, who cares. No hurry to get it in the clamps, just do a joint, drive the peg into the draw bore, go to the next one. When you have run out of holes to peg stand it up and check for square. As you can see from the clamp it was about 4mm out across the diagonals. Pull it square and walk away. The joints on that sucker will not fail, tight tenons, loose tenons, hide glue, yellow glue, makes no never mind she is locked together.

I let the boss pick, dark top, light top. She picked dark top. Then it was Cherry or Sapele. Looks like the second table will have a Cherry top. Of course the needed Cherry board is about half way down the middle stack of wood. I'll deal with it once back from work.

I used both wood and metal planes to finish the legs. Irons in each were freshly sharpened and chip breakers set the same. I used the metal planes to remove the bulk and wood stock planes to finish. Taking the same shavings, the wood stock planes will leave a much smoother surface, almost slick, not a clue why but they do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wood Stock Planes

I'm in the short rows of the second side table build, chamfering the tenons and shaping the legs before work today and I hope to get to shaping the aprons and chopping the mortises in the aprons for the top hold downs tonight. Anyway, while using my wood stock planes I started thinking about wood stock vs. metal.

I use my metal planes more than the wood stock planes, but there are many uses where the wood stocks are better mostly because of lighter weight and the ease of working in both directions. An example is cutting bevels and chamfers. The light weight when planning a vertical board and being able to work both directions make it a no brainer as to which plane to use. Shaping beveled legs is another example, after cutting with the band saw, rough shaping with the spokeshave, and then smoothing with one of the wood stocks is much less a workout vs. doing the smoothing with a #3 or #4. Add in the weight of a modern Bedrock pattern plane like a LN for smoothing and there is no need for the gym afterwards.

Another big advantage of the wood stock plane is cost.  Some scrap wood and a LV or Hock iron with chip breaker (if you are really cheap, a recovered iron and chip breaker from a junk Stanley) and you have a very good plane for $40 to $50 USD vs, $100 to $500 for a new Bedrock style plane.

While I use the metal planes more, mostly because they can be faster and a little less fussy, if I could have only one type, wood stock or metal, I think I would end up with wood stocks. YMMV.

BTW, after making and shaping many Krenov style planes I've settled on a shape that works for me. Very simple almost Japanese style but taller and not as wide. With that shape I have almost infinite options as to hand placement, number of hands, and direction. Examples of my current shape are at the top of the Blog, reposted here. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Second Table

When you are older than dirt sleep does not come easy.

I had social duties this weekend which limited shop time, almost zero Saturday because we were having folks over for dinner. Sunday was a little better because we were the dinner guests but bottom line, not much time either day. Here's where being an OF has its benefits, just before 01:00 my eyes popped open, I looked over at MsOK, she was watching a movie on her iPad. I have a 12:00 show today, plenty of time I might as well go to the shop.

I had finished fitting one of the tenons Sunday just before the command performance and had seven more waiting for me. Things are going well, the tenons are fitting off the saw, unless I screw up one of the remaining two (finally getting around to my first cup of coffee) the table could be clamp ready before work today. I doubt it will, I can always find something to distract but.....

Here is one of the Sycamore aprons ready to saw off the tenon cheeks:

Ready to fit:

I would like to give Lee Valley a shout out. A couple three months ago they came out with a set of large tenon saws with a introductory price of $75 USD each if you ordered both the Rip and Crosscut. Being a sucker for saws I ordered the set. I've saws that cost three, four times as much that do not saw as well. They are really good saws, I doubt you could find better at any price point. BTW, it's the same story with their smaller saws as well, I find I reach for the Carcass and/or one of the dovetail saws most of the time, leaving the "better" saws in the till.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Mortise Appliance

A reply to yesterday's pig sticker post asked about the reference to a "mortise appliance". I used the term "appliance" a little tongue in cheek because it is so simple. The basic idea is from Robert Wearing's book Making Woodwork Aids & Devices and is mentioned in Schwarz's Workbenches in the chapter on Maintenance & Appliances.

I've added a board making it "L" shaped to move the work piece off the edge of the bench but the principle remains the same. It gives an easy way to clamp the work piece on the bench top over the leg.

The appliance/jig in the vise:

Holding the work piece:

Like many of the most useful bench appliances, simple, easy to make and is used almost every shop day. It and my bench hooks live next to each other within easy reach under the bench.

Friday, March 07, 2014

More on Pig Stickers

I know broken record and all that rot but....for mortices deeper than 25mm on one off work there ain't nothing that does 'em better nor faster than a pig sticker. I'll use bench chisels for shallow mortises and they work fine but once they go much deeper than about 15mm it's a pig sticker.

The ones I chopped last night were all over 30mm, had eight to chop and all were finished in much less than an hour, and I'm a slow worker, need my tea don't ch know. Once in the mortice, depending on the wood, I can remove a chip 3 to 4mm X 25 to 30mm with out working hard. A couple or three taps, a push against the bevel to remove the chip and on to the next chop. Doesn't take long and best of all no set up other than marking and putting the mortise appliance in the vise.

Anyway, cut to the chase.....I chopped the mortises for the second of the three side tables last night. I'll dig out whatever is going to be the rails after work tonight and unless MsOK has other plans for me I should have a table by Monday....Anyone want to make a bet.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Second of Three

I milled the leg blanks for the second of the three side tables for MsOK. My plan as of now is to make this one with Cherry legs and top and with Sycamore aprons. Of course that can and likely will change as I work on the build.

I went to the wood store yesterday to pick up some Walnut, Maple, and Cherry. Everything but the Cherry was slim pickings and even the Cherry only had a couple of 8/4s that were good enough to bring home. When I asked about the lack of stock, I found out they had a big sale last Saturday...for some reason I was asleep at the wheel and didn't know about it....Oh well I was working and would not have made it anyway.

I did find a couple of nice 8/4s Beech boards, short only 8' long but wide, may use them for the third table instead of Maple. While there I noticed a Frankinplane Stanley No 113, I've been looking for one for awhile but the nice looking ones on eBay are a little high to take a chance on and the others are just too rough looking. My experience with eBay is a 30 to 40% "burn" rate even when you know what to look for and even though you can send it back by the time I pay shipping and the hassle it isn't worth it....just eat the 'burn" and add it to my knowledge base. Even though the 113 was a Frankinplane and needed a different iron and chipbreaker the rest was in good shape plus the price was right.

Once home with it, I dug through my stock of spare plane parts and found a good iron and chipbreaker. I also discovered the frog screw was missing a washer and was sticking through the frog touching the iron, the washer was a little harder to find than the iron and chipbreaker but I used one from a junk No 3.  Once together it worked beautifully.

The milled Cherry leg blanks:

The Stanley No 113:

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Finished Table

I've oiled and waxed the Skunk Table and it is in the house for MsOK's approval. Now the question is does it remain in the house, go to either the girl or boy child,  friends, or Goodwill. Whichever, I expect there are few things that give the satisfaction of making something using traditional methods and materials that with care should last for centuries. Knowing the joinery is sound and tested, the design while breaking no new ground is also good. This is the time of sitting and looking, knowing mistakes were made but seeing they were not fatal. People that do not make things can not know this peace.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Skunk Table

The Side Table is out of the clamps. After clamping up last night my attention turned to figuring out a top. As I looked around the shop and at the wood stack a Cherry panel stuck next to the bench caught my eye. I had glued the panel up months ago for a failed project, the rest of the project had been recycled into other uses but the panel had just sat there. Hummm....I said to self, that might work, a quick check with the tape and the panel was just big enough in length with a little to spare in width.

I cut it to size and beveled the edges last night. This morning I pulled the base out of the clamps and placed the panel on top. The Skunk Table was born. Jury is out, tops are easy to make and change, I think I will live with this one for awhile, maybe make a couple other panels just to see which I like but......for now it is the Skunk Table.