Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stick Chair Finished

The stick chair has been moved from the shop to one of the sitting areas. I'm not sure where it's home will be, could be the kitchen table or maybe one of the bedrooms. Bottom line it is out of the shop and on to finishing the new workbench.

I've lived with MsBubba too long and have caught some of her ways. This morning after looking at the options for jointing the long stretchers I started moving machines. Just like MsBubba and the furniture I didn't really change much functionally but the machines are all in different places.  The big change is the tablesaw is against the West wall and out of the way. Photos when it is all hooked up.


Monday, October 29, 2018


A week or so ago Jonas over at Mulesaw asked about Saguaros. This is a is a partial answer. Our house is on the edge of the Saguaro National Park so we are surrounded by Saguaros.

Here is a photo of our back garden Saguaro. A few years ago the top developed the "leans" and a year or two later it fell off and took one of the arms with it. I figured it was a goner but has recovered and is adding new arms.

Saguaros are very slow growing a 10 year old plant may be less than two inches tall yet by the time they put on arms around 100 years or so they can be 40 or more feet tall.

Saguaros define the Sonoran desert, it is the only place they grow. Basically if you see a Saguaro you are in the Sonoran Desert and if you do not you are in some other desert like the Mojave. Not totally true but close enough. They feed and shelter many of the desert critters including the two legged kind. Our saguaro has been the home of a nesting pair of Gila Woodpeckers for years.

Saguaros can live a couple of hundred years and after the die they are still useful. From the Desert Museum's web site: "After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. The holes that birds nested in or "saguaro boots" can be found among the dead saguaros. Native Americans used these as water containers long before the canteen was available."

They flower in the Spring and are pollinated by birds, bees and the lesser long-nosed bat. Native Americans celebrate the start of their growing season with a drink made from Saguaro fruit.

A photo of a Saguaro skeleton MsBubba has covered in lights, I doubt you can make it out but there is also a "boot" in the middle of the shelf to the left of the skeleton.

One more photo. Looking to the West Northwest towards the Tucsons and Saguaro National Park from our back garden.

Click 'em to big 'em,


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shop Sized Moravian Bench

Back in July or August I made a slab for a new shop sized (non-portable) Moravian style workbench. After finishing the slab I ran into a couple of problems that stopped progress. The first was getting my wood for the base, I wanted to use 12/4 Ash. The local wood store said the Phoenix store had it in stock and would deliver with the next shipment. The next shipment no joy but it would for sure be on the next one. Yep you guessed it, the check is in the mail. By this time I was getting ready to spend September in the PNW so everything slid until we were back from Oregon. Once back I'm back in the chase for 12/4 timber for the base after a week or so of back and forth with the wood store I quote "The Ash is too checked and ugly to sale but we do have some 12/4 Hard Maple at $13 USD a BF instead. Ain't no way I'm using $13 USD wood for a workbench base, glue up or not.

Cut to the chase. They had some 8/4 Beech on sale for just under $5 USD a BF, so it needs glue up, for $ 7 USD a BF I can handle that. Just under $400 USD I have my base plus some spendles and legs from the cutoffs. I've broken the Beech down and will start glue up of the legs and stretchers this afternoon. If work and honey dos do not interfere too much I should have a new bench in a couple or three weeks.

The chair drying between coats of paint with the bench parts in the background:

The chair will need at least two more coats of red, that's the bad news, the good is milk paint dries almost as fast as it is applied.

The stretcher and leg glue ups will take a couple of days to complete. I do not have room or clamps to do 'em all at one time. BTW, my bench building days may be ending soon. Wrestling bench sized timber kicks my butt anymore, I ain't as strong as I once was. That said, I expect I have at least one or two more benches in me and I want to replace my butt ugly shave horse with a nice one that will break down for easy transport.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Levi's Chair Gets A Big Brother

The title says it all.

I'm going to live with the chair a couple of days before deciding on paint or oil.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chair Is In Glue UP

The chair is in glue up. I haven't decided on paint or not. Four different woods and a seat that is a little difficult, my guess is it will end up painted. The only real question is is the chair worth the time and effort it takes to paint.

It has been a great learning project but there are some design elements that could be done better. Again I think I will live with the chair for awhile before deciding. Whatever, building stick chairs is a hoot. I love the process and even better I love the results.

If I paint it will be milk paint with a red or black undercoat and either black, gray green, or blue finish coat.

Here is the chair in clamps:

One more:

I found a hunk of 8/4 Poplar the other day that should yield at least five seat blanks. the next one will have thinner back spindles and I expect I'll form them with a drawknife and spokeshave. I like the octagon legs and expect the next chairs will continue with them. Soon I'll add a crest rail and arms, maybe the next chair or the one that follows.

BTW, I sat on it before glue up and it is really comfortable.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Legs Dry Fitted

I have finished the legs and have dry fitted them into the seat. They look good, angles are not perfect but close enough to be no problem.

Chair from the side:

From the front:

The seat still needs some shaping and of course cleaning up. After shaping the seat I need to make four sticks/slats for the back and a crest rail. This sucker is close to being in the short rows.

I'm still waiting on my 12/4 Ash for the new bench base. If the Ash isn't available I think Red Oak is and is close enough in price to the Ash to be a reasonable substitute. The bench's slab standing in the corner covered in dust is bugging me. It's time to fish or cut bait.

Once the bench is finished, unless MsBubba has other plans for my time and as always if she does "yes dear" is the correct response, will be another stick chair made with a Poplar seat and painted with contrasting base/finish milk paint. In the queue as well is a stick table/desk. I'm not sure which will be first.

Plans are being finalize for a trip to Houston over the Winter Solstice to honor the most important day of the year (MIDOTY), MsBubba's birthday, with the kids and so I can meet the newest Grandpeanut. I'll take tools and bench with us so I can repair the changing table that was damaged when shipped.

A busy end of the year.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Boot Sale

Our local Woodcraft had a parking lot Boot Sale last Spring. It was successful enough they agreed to having another this Fall. I'm hoping they will continue with a twice yearly schedule. This Fall's sale will be November 11th, it's on my calendar and I have the day off.

I expect to offer a few large items as well as the usual small hand tools. I hope to rid the shop of several dozen hand saws, 20 or 30 chisels including a set of LV PMv11 chisels. I've had the LV chisels for several years (early adopter) and have never developed any love. It's a shame because they look good and I'm sure the iron is good but they don't feel right in hand plus they are the only chisel handle I've ever split. LV replaced the chisel with no question but one of the other chisels has a hairline crack. Anyway they may be great chisels but not for me.

I will also try to reduce my stock of dust collecting joinery planes and maybe even a bench plane or two. Marking gauges, what do you want pin or cutting? I haven't decided if any of my surplus sharpening stones are in danger. I expect not but it could happen. The large items will be mostly photos and I do not expect to sell 'em but showing a photo never hurts. Whatever, someday, hopefully soon, I wish to rid the shop of the table saw and the jointer.  The two large items I will take to the boot sale are my prototype shave horse and the portable workbench.. The shave horse works great but is as ugly as granny panties and the portable workbench because I need a surface to show and maybe demonstrate some of the tools for sale. I'll put a price on the bench in case someone is interested.

The shave horse will be priced to go because I want to make another (prettier) one and there's no room in the shop for two. The workbench I would sell if offered enough to make building another worthwhile but this one is close to perfect and I doubt it could be improved on in any significant way.

BTW, I'm sure I've told you how much I enjoy working on the portable bench :-). The folks that originally designed the bench knew what they were doing. It is pared down to the essence of "workbench". There is nothing extra but nothing missing and it is incredibly stable for its mass because of the design of the base. When I first built the bench I did not understand or appreciate the subtlety of the design I just wanted a small portable workbench and the Moravian bench is that. Only after working on it did I began to understand the art and knowledge of the original builders.

A gratuitous photo of the bench in use just because I can:




Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shaping Legs and Seat Blank

I've been supervising a new instructor for the last few days. Before that, for the last two weeks I was on the late PM to early AM shift. I actually like the shift for about a week. No suits in the building, just do your thing and go home, but after a week the lack of good sleep starts to affect me and by the end of the second week I'm just bone weary. To jump from two weeks of the night shift to a week of supervising is cruel and unusual punishment. Woe is me, enough kvetching for now but if you read about an old fart Tucsonian eating a pistol next week there could be a good stash of tools for sale.

I've been in and out of the shop today between taking care of Casa Chaos and MsBubba.

The new chair's seat blank is mostly ready for the legs.

And I'm shaping the leg blanks before cutting the tenons.

The jig does a good job of holding the legs for shaping and with a sharp iron in the #5 it is pretty quick work. I've thought about making a similar jig to hold the leg blanks for running through the planer and may yet. Of course I'm always in the middle of shaping the legs when I think about making the jig and by that time it is easier to just continue doing it by hand.

The seat blank is Honey Locust and it was a pretty gnarly board but it was close to the right size and had been hanging around the shop for a few years. I haven't a clue what will happen when I knock the legs home. There is a good chance it will split, oh well shit happens. If it does I'll go find a nice hunk of Poplar or maybe Red Oak, clean the hide glue off the leg tenons, and start over.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Making Crossgrain "v"

Ralph over at Accidentalwoodworker posted about making a "v" for sawing cross grain. I've found the best way to make the v-cut is to use a long paring chisel and cut cross grain vs. with the grain, Here are some photos of the process:



It makes a much cleaner "v" than doing it with the grain.


Monday, October 08, 2018

Seat Blank

The Honey Locust seat blank is out of the clamps and I marked it off using the seat template I made Saturday. After marking I trimmed the blank close to the line with the bandsaw. Now it is drawknife, spokeshave, and #5 to smooth the edge. I expect I will put a heavy chamfer on the front and side edges, undecided on the back edge, before moving on to drilling and reaming the leg mortises.

The seat edges being trued and smoothed:

I need to go through the wood pile to decide on the leg blanks. Right now I'm thinking either Beech, Red Oak or even White Oak. The Honey Locust in the wood pile's grain is too swirly to make good legs. Once the leg wood is picked then the next decisions are the shape, round, octagon, or tapered and which way, and done with the lathe, plane, drawknife, spokeshave, or some combination of one or more.

All the options are half the fun because there really isn't a correct one. 

BTW, have I ever told you how much I love the portable Moravian bench with the Lake Erie wood screw vise? For as light as it is and portable, it is almost as stable as the main bench. The only time the main bench is better is when sawing crosswise across the bench. Then you can feel the weight difference.

I sure will be glad when the woodstore comes through with my 12/4 Ash so I can make the base for a shop sized Moravian bench. The wood screw is here, the Beech slab is finished. All I need is 30 or so board feet of Ash to finish that sucker off. A couple of weeks max if I can get my hands on the wood.


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Chair Stuff

Levi's chair is out of the shop. For what it is I'm happy with it, I think it meets most of my design criteria. One last photo:

Last night I glued up a seat blank using some 8/4 Honey Locust. I've not a clue if it will be a good seat or not but....

Ipad and Messenger are not playing nice with the glue up photo. Whatever, once the seat blank is out of the clamps I'll use this template to size and mark the seat.

While waiting for the seat blank to come out of the clamps it is "shop clean up" time. The tool room is a total mess and will take most of the day. The main shop mostly needs dust and shavings pick up with some organization.

The local Woodcraft should have a parking lot "Boot Sale" soon so I expect a good part of today's clean up will be spent loading boxes for the sale. 


Friday, October 05, 2018


I've built a few and worked on more.

As I wander around the net I often come across posts of new builders fretting about their build. What kind of bench, what wood, which vise and where to place 'em, and so on. All understandable but also a waste of time for the new builder. Just build something that is strong, cheap and fast to build, then go to work making things. After working on the bench for awhile things about it will drive you to barking at the moon and then it is time to build another. If you are lucky and pay attention to your needs and not to bench building posts and books, after a couple of cycles you will end up with a bench that works.

The posts from new builders are what they are. The posts that bring out my inter curmudgeon are the ones with photos of the new completed bench that has a different type vise on each corner, is wide as an aircraft carrier, has rows of both round and square dog holes, has a sliding deadman on each side and a bench jack standing by, and is finished so slick you can see your face like in a mirror. And even better only took two or three years to complete.  BTW, almost every single "feature" of the bench combined with all the other "features" would have me barking at the moon faster than the first build it "strong, cheap, and fast" bench.

OK rant over, it will soon be time for my afternoon meds.


Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Levi's Chair

I finished up Levi's chair last night and just put on the first coat of Danish Oil. There was a moment or two thinking about using Milk Paint to finish, maybe the next one.

The next question is how to get the chair to Houston before he is too big to use it.


A Couple of Photos From The PNW

One more photo of the portable workbench in the wild. This one just outside Trinidad CA. I've removed the vise and vise backer board and I'm making an adjustment to the backer board. The vise screw backer board parallel guide mortise (whew that was long) was a perfect fit in the desert of Tucson, on the coast of California not so much. I had to take a couple or three shavings off both sides to get it to function. After the adjustment it was smooth as silk.

This one is Ugly Dude sitting on a log near Cape Lookout OR with Sam the Wonder Dog and Sweet Maggie Dog is digging for rocks in the background. BTW, this may be Sam's last trip. The harness is there so I can help him up the RV's stairs. I wish I had a video of the whole process, sad but at the same time funny and shows just how much heart dogs have.

Click 'em to big 'em.

It was a great month but it is also good to be home. I finished Levi's chair last night and will put some finish on it today. Photos after the first coat of finish.


Monday, October 01, 2018

Back From PNW

We made it back to Tucson midday Sunday. It was a good trip with few problems other than the usual tech problems with cell phone coverage, internet, and Satellite TV (tall trees).   Two small glitches with the motorhome, the outside door handle stopped working at the second fuel stop in Needles CA. and on the way back between Barstow CA. and Needles CA., it was a very gusty and windy day, a gust hit the motorhome from the side and blew off the over door retractable awning. My guess it was 50 to 70 knots strong. It was a good thing no one was following closely or near the motorhome when it hit.  BTW, ain't nothing as fun as a 400 mile day keeping a motorhome between the bar ditches on a gusty/windy day.

The door problem was fixed by getting the ladder out of one of the bins and going through the drivers side window, opening the door from the inside and then removing the latch system. For the rest of the trip we had to use the deadbolt to hold the door shut, no real problem just a PITA.

I didn't have much use of the portable workbench this trip, while it didn't rain a lot there was mist and fog most days. I did set the bench up in the Fort Bragg CA. site for a couple of days and did a little work on a small box (didn't finish it). Anyway here is one of the few photos of this years portable bench in the wild. Notice the whisky glass on the tool chest. It was a very good day.

Because of WX and fire we didn't stick to plan but were pretty loosey goosey and in the process found a new favorite place to go and one not so favorite place. Grants Pass OR while not too bad is not one we are likely to re-visit. Trinidad CA. is great. we stayed there instead of Brookings OR. because of smoke and liked it so much we spent a couple of days there on the return trip down the coast. It is a beautiful place with a great bay for kayaking and even has a nude beach. We didn't go to the beach, no need to cause the locals to need eye bleach.

We made it as far North as Cape Lookout OR. kinda cold and misty the whole time, MsBubba loved the WX and the hiking, the dogs and I spent our time walking the beach, chasing tennis balls, and Maggie finding rocks to throw at my feet. The Cape Lookout area is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast.

If you know anything about RVs you know Quartzsite AZ. Quartzsite is the winter boondocking capital of the world, at least according to Google. I finally got to spend a night in Quartzsite on the way home. It was a little early for all the snowbirds so a place for the night was easy to find, maybe  someday we will show up mid Winter.