Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's the Little Things

Robert Earl Keen is a Texas singer/song writer, one of his songs has a line "It's the little things that piss me off". That line pretty much applies to many things in life but especially to woodworking.

I've been rebuilding my small box stock over the Solstice break. When you do a few in a row normally each one will get a little better and that has been the case with the box builds. The dovetails get a little cleaner, the top and base fit a little better, even the finish tends to look better with each new box.

Of course there has to be a yes but. Yesterday I started the last of the current set of boxes. I was feeling pretty cocky, The joints had been really nice on the last couple of boxes with good fit right off the saw and needing very little chisel work. I figured as this was the last of a series I would go all out to make it as perfect as I could.....As always wrong Bubba. I did really pay extra attention to the marking, sawing and chiseling and every thing looked near perfect until I went to test the joints.

With dovetails I do not normally do a complete fit, I will just place the tails over the pins to see if I can start the joint. If I can, then I will set the pieces in final relation to each other add glue to the long grain and knock the joints home. The operative word being knock the joint home. With these the first corner fell into place as did all the others. For some reason every joint was loose, well shaped but loose as a goose. The only thing that changed between this box and the ones before was I used a different saw, still a dovetail saw but different.  That shouldn't have made a difference's the little things....


I do not often look at eBay postings for several reasons. Most important, I don't need any more tools (yeah, right) nor do I have room to store 'em (true). But every once in awhile I'll have a little morning coffee time and I will take a look. It can be interesting.

Today I put in the search box "used woodworking hand tools buy it now" and on the third page was a listing for a "user grade" Stanley 3C seller typed as a Type 12. From the photos I couldn't see anything that would make me question the Type. The plane had been buffed and cleaned up with some evidence of deeper rust but not much, all in all I would agree the plane would make a nice $40 to $50 USD user plane except for the "C".

The seller had the plane priced at $340 USD and, at least for me, what was even more head slapping was there were 60+ following the listing. The only thing I can think of to cause that many to follow would be just wanting to see if someone would really pay $340 USD for a user grade #3C.


Monday, December 29, 2014

It's Been a Nice Run

I'm back to the grind this afternoon, it would have been nice to have extended the days off until after the 1st but that is not to be. Yesterday, because it was the last day off for awhile, I put my big boy panties on early morning and was reasonably productive working through a mild cold and some minor old fart aches and pains. I even took Sam the Wonder Dog and Sweet Maggie Dog for a short ride in the truck to the local Woodcraft for doggie biscuits. Not a bad way to end a few days off.

I finished another small box, my box inventory is now close to normal. I like to have a half dozen or so available to give as gifts and thank you's. As mentioned earlier, the box was made of Spanish Cedar with a South American Walnut base and Sepele top. I had not used either Spanish Cedar or South American Walnut before. The Spanish Cedar with Tried and True is beautiful as is the almost black South American Walnut. Both woods are easy to work the only down side is both are very soft and I expect easily damaged.

I also finished a large Sepele picture frame, 610mm X 410mm inside dimensions, for one of MsOK's ceramic pieces.  Frames for her ceramic work are tough to build because of the weight of the mounted art work. I used splines in the miters to add corner strength, 6mm Baltic Birch ply for the center. The ply is glued into a 13mm rebate with screws on 100mm centers.  I'm not sure what else I can do to hold the weight and of course once the wood starts moving fun could be had by all.

It even warmed up enough to get another coat of paint on the pantry doors from hell. I figure a couple more coats of paint and they will be ready to hang.

Back to setting in a dark box for four hours at a time. What the hell, it beats working and I use to say at least a Sim can't kill you. Cessna Wichita proved that wrong.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Small Projects

It has been cold here in the Old Pueblo, I know cry me a river and 30F to 50F isn't cold to most but damn it's cold. Because it's cold I've been working mostly with the shop closed up, that in turn means for the most part small projects. 

Here is a view of the bench in the middle of of a small box build and a picture frame glue up: 

The box is made of Spanish Cedar and will have a South American Walnut base with a Sepele top and finished with Tried and True. Spanish Cedar is really pretty but is very soft.  I expect this will not be a functional box but will look nice on the shelf.

We did a couple of days in Rocky Point, MX for MsOK's B-Day....As always when in Mexico I consumed way too much food and beer. The hotel and beach were nice and it was good to be out of town, even better to get back home. Love my critters and shop. 

Because we were out of town on the Solstice our annual necked dance around the Solstice Bonfire and burning of bad art/craft from the past year was put off a few days. Not only did I burn a few failed projects I rid the shop of lots of cutoffs. All in all a good Solstice Celebration. 

I've had one green eye and one red, stop/go/stop/go, over the new planes from Lee Valley, I've built one with a 55 degree frog and it's in my cart ready to check out but.....I know for $85 USD I can order a HAF for my LN #4 and that's the hold up. I know me and the question is: Would I take the time to change the frogs back and forth.....I expect the answer is no, that is the reason I have as many bench planes as I have instead of extra irons to change to when a different profile is needed. I might as well push the damn button.

Today is the last day before donning the monkey suit and effectively starting the new year. As I look back on the old year, it wasn't bad, let's hope the new is as good or better.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pencil Box From the Front

Here it is Ralph:

One more:

Pencil Box

The off cuts from MsOK's painted candle box were just the right size to make a pencil box. Digging through the small off cut rack behind the work bench I found a nice piece of Cherry that was just large enough for the base and in my newly organized wood rack was a small hunk of Sapele that was just wide enough to make the sliding top. I was off to the races.

The new pencil box, Cherry base, Poplar body, and a Sapele top. Finished with Tried and True. Not too shabby for a bunch of scraps.

Odds and Ends

Del Smith was found dead in his home early in December, he was 82. Del founded and ran Evergreen Aviation until its end last year when it went into Chapter 7. He started with a single helicopter in Oregon and at its peak Evergreen ran a world spanning 747 airline with helicopter and Learjet bases where ever there was a contract. He had contracts with the U.N., the U.S. Department of Defense, CIA, many other NGOs, and other governments. Del defined the term "Crony Capitalist".

Evergreen was my last flying job before I went into semi-retirement. The saying at Evergreen was you were fired the day you were hired, you just didn't know what day it was. I expect I was one of the few that walked out on my terms not because Del fired me. The one constant at Evergreen was if Del had been home for more than a couple of days in a row you were headed somewhere the next day and that somewhere was likely 10 to 12 time zones away. The bar stories I have from that time will last the rest of my life, each more unbelievable than the last but all at least 99% true. You just couldn't make shit up that was better than what really happened. Del was one of the last of an era, RIP Del.

The Boss comes home day will be spent running the streets, cleaning the house a little so it doesn't look like the critters and I have been on our own for a couple of weeks, maybe a little shop time, and of course getting the things needed to drive to Mexico for the weekend.

For once I'm ready for TMIDOTY, MsOK's B-Day gift came yesterday as did her Winter Solstice gift. Both are in gift sacks with tissue paper stuffing just like i've seen MsOK do it....Hell I'm ready.

Unless someone books at the last minute, I'm through with work for the year. The pantry might be finished by the 1st but I wouldn't bet too much on it.

I wish you'll a good Winter Solstice Celebration and a Happy New Year. See you on down the road.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SPLOMLWMBO Will Fly Home Tomorrow

MsOK comes home tomorrow, then on the 21st. we will drive to Mexico to celebrate TMIDOTY (the most important day of the year), her birthday on the 22nd.

I've made a small painted box to hold her birthday camcorder. I hate paint, I should never be allowed within several miles of a paint brush and/or a pot of paint but a painted box was requested. With an oil finish I can knock one of these boxes out in a couple or three hours and that includes tea breaks. This painted one took three days and because of the paint it would need to be classified as a "second". The good news she will not notice and I followed orders. The red B-Day box is on the right, I had some scrap of the right size left over to make the pencil box on the left. The pencil box is waiting for the glue pot to warm up.

The Winter Solstices step stools are finished.

The pantry doors are still waiting on the last couple of coats of paint (see above). It has been too cold or raining when I've had time to paint....Who knows when they will be finished.

Even with working I've been reasonably productive while MsOK was gone, amazing how much time the old gal requires, she's worth it but with just me and the critters home we get a lot more done.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Moving Wood

I can't keep a lot of wood, shop is too small, but I have some stored. One of the problems with storing wood in a small space is keeping it organized and accessible. Organization and accessibility go hand in hand. Over time as wood is brought into the shop and used every thing becomes haphazard, at least that is the way it works here at Casa Chaos, and finding a piece of wood for a project becomes difficult. In fact so difficult it is quicker and easier to run to the wood store to buy what is needed for the current project when you know full well that somewhere in the pile is the perfect hunk of wood. It has been that way for the last several months.

Of course one of the hindrances to straightening out the wood stores is facing wrestling around 10' long 8/4 hunks of Sepele, Oak, and Beech. My old back can only take so much before it starts whispering No Mas, No Mas and the whisper soon turns into a yell.

There I go building a clock.....Bottom line: I needed a 250mm wide board to make a replacement stool for the one I screwed up during glue up and I knew there was something in the wood pile that would work. After moving most of the wood on the bottom two racks, I of course found several that are perfect. Finding the boards forced me to move so much wood that I might as well straighten out the wood pile as I replace the moved wood back on the racks.

Bottom rack will be for full length 8/4 or larger lumber with some long 8/4 cut offs. Next rack up will hold full length 6/4 and 4/4 boards and the top two racks will be mostly shorter cut offs.

Will it help? Maybe for a few weeks.

MsOK loves bonfires on winter evenings, she now has one hell of a stack of expensive firewood for her fires. When she gets back from Texas maybe I'll get an attaboy.

Wood in bottom rack. Yes I know it should be stickered but.....second rack almost done.

Some of the cut offs to be racked;

The top two racks....What a mess, I expect MsOK's bonfire pile will grow some more:


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stuff Happens

I plugged in the glue pot, had a couple cups of coffee, had two big hairy dogs push me around the office before feeding 'em their Kibbles & Bits, even read a couple of emails while waiting for the glue to come to temperature. BTW, I wasn't worried about the glue up, the stool had been put together and taken apart several times to make sure every thing pulled up correctly and square.

Wrong Bubba, I brushed some glue on the tenons and the first slid home with just light pressure. The second, well you see the result, stopped about 4mm short. I gave the leg a tap, damn I should have known better, what can I say other than back to the wood pile.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

One Down

I finished the first of two step stools for the girl child and boy child's Winter Solstice gifts.  I've made a number of these stools, They are an easy build and make a strong step stool. The second is ready for some finish work with the plane and then glue up. I shouldn't celebrate too early 'cause stuff can still happen and I'm kinda like a government contractor, it's not often I finish a project on time and under bid.

The girl child has been married several years now and in fact the first grandkid is almost ready to pop and I still haven't finished her wedding present. I have an excuse, every time I settle on a design she changes her mind about what they will be doing and where they will live.

BTW, the pantry doors are still unpainted and unhung.  Days I could paint I'm working, days I'm off it's been too cold and/or too windy to paint. That's my story anyway.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Foot Stools

I found a nice piece of 250mm wide quarter sawn Red Oak the the other day for about $3 USD a BF. I wish I could have found more that wide but.....The board was perfect for building a couple of foot stools. Can you guess what the kids are getting for their Winter Solstice.

I've built this stool often, it's about as simple as a stool can be. A top, two side pieces, and a through mortice stretcher. It is strong, stable, and when made with Red Oak very attractive.

Here is one of the legs. I'm using a Koyamaichi #2 White Steel chisel to chop the waste, it doesn't get much better as the chisel takes and holds a great edge.

Top with one leg:

I used the Moxon for sawing and marking the tails and pins, while I'm not completely sold on the Moxon it did a pretty good job holding everything in place.

New Truck

I finally did it.  For the last couple of years I have been going back and forth on buying a new truck and if I did would it be gas or diesel. My last truck is a 3/4 ton diesel. it was close to top of the trim level back in 2003 and it has been a great truck with under 200,000 miles. I expect it is good for another 200,000 miles but here is the rub: I'm older than dirt but could outlast the truck and the last thing I want is to need a new truck after retirement.

Ah damn, there I go building a clock.....bottom line I picked up a 2014 Chevy 1500 LTZ with just about every gizmo GM puts on their new trucks. I've been like a rube in New York City, "golly did you see what it just did".

It vibrates the left side of the seat if I drift left, the whole seat and the instrument panel flashes red if I'm about to run into something in front, hell I go down the road drifting left and right just for the cheap thrills. Phones calls come in and the radio volume turns off and all I have to do is talk, seats heat and cool my tush as needed. Lights go on and off as needed with no input, you click open the door lock and the whole side of the truck and ground is lit. The list goes on, what is amazing is the change in just over 10 years. My '03 is a good truck but it is just a truck, a great motor with a cab and bed, you put it in gear and it goes where you want to go but that is about it. The new one is still a truck but it sure tries to hide it.    

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Work Holding

Anyone who reads this blog knows I have no use for tail vises but bottom line, who cares other than MsOK and Sam the Wonder Dog.  Well maybe Sweet Maggie Dog does as long as I have a ball in hand.

CS posted a video on his blog today addressing work holding on a bench with no vises, I expect most have seen it but if not here is a link.

One of the go to books for new bench builders today is CS's. I like the work he has done popularizing hand tools and for that matter bringing old bench forms back to life. But......there's that damn "but" again, you can see the effect of his bench building books on many of the woodwork forums. It seems every bench being built has a leg vise and usually a wagon vise, those without a wagon vise have some other form of tail vise installed.  Looking over some of the builds I have a hard time imagining what kind of work the bench is being built for.  BTW, I'm guessing most readers skipped over his advise to look at your bench build plans and if parts of it do not look or function like the classic benches it might be wise to rethink those parts.

Most of what I'm trying to say is: Many times there are as good or better ways to hold work for whatever operation you wish to perform than a vise. Sometimes not, I use the heck out of my face vise and I wouldn't really want to lose it but for most operations, other than end work, working with out using a vise is faster and often will give better results.

I learned something from watching: I now have a name for the notched batten I use to hold work on the bench for cross grain planing. It's a good video, watch it if you have not watched before.

Monday, December 01, 2014

A Couple of Small Boxes

It's that time of year when you are expected to go to work place Winter Solstice parties and make nice to folks you do not know and some you wish you didn't know.  As with all work related social event they are never win win. The best you can hope for is you do not step on your dick too hard and/or walk out with no one remembering you were there.

Grump, grump.....

We are going to MsOK's this week, I lucked out on mine because MsOK will be in Texas and gives me a perfect excuse to miss. On to the chase.....

We are expected to bring a "White Elephant" gift to MsOK's. I have a couple of small boxes that are "seconds" squirreled away in the tool room. I expect one or both will end up belonging to someone else before the week is over.

Nothing big wrong with either, I expect unless pointed out only an another craftsman would notice but of course I will have to point out the faults. It's kinda like picking at a scab or scratching an itch, it can't be helped.