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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018



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

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

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

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


Sunday, April 22, 2018

I Couldn't Resist

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

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

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

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


Truing One Edge of Workbench Slab

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

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

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

A couple of photos of truing the edge:

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Slab For The Travel Bench

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

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

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

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


Friday, April 20, 2018

Travel Bench Base

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

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

From the other end:

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

I hope everyone has a good weekend, 


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fitting Long Stretchers In A One Man Shop

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

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

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

From the other side:

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

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

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


Friday, April 13, 2018

Panic In Casa Chaos

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Watergate to Pussygate Plus a Little Traveling Workbench

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

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

A photo of the base waiting glue up:

As always click 'em to big 'em.

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


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Saw Skills

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

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

An Organized Shop Is A Sign Of A Sick Mind

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

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

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

Main Bench:

Joinery Bench:

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

Moving on:

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

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

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