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.