Monday, December 31, 2018

Small Changes To The Bench and A Old Appliance

I've had little time in the shop after the return from Houston. MsBubba wanted a new electrical outlet in the kitchen and the modem died. Both were near full days to fix.

Have I ever told you how much I hate pulling wire. The good news, it was a one trip to the hardware store job. The bad, it still took almost a full day to complete.

Today was tech support hell, after hours of "live chat" they finally decided my modem was bad and sent me to the company store to pick up a new one. After installing the new modem at first it wouldn't let me rename the wireless networks which of course needed another couple of hours of 'live chat" to resolve.

Like I said shop time has been limited but I did get a couple of things done. First was cleaning up the mess I left getting out the door to Houston and unloading the tools and portable workbench from the truck.

I've wanted to add a lower shelf to the Moravian bench and my first thought was to buy some Home Depot Pine for the slats. Bad ideal Bubba, I couldn't believe the price of bad boards. After digging through the wood pile I found a 4/4 Red Oak board that was just long enough to do the job. The Red Oak looks better than the Pine would have anyway.

Here is a photo, I expect I will bevel the edges and maybe put a "stop" on the end boards along with maybe some Danish Oil finish.

While digging around under the other bench I found a bench appliance I had started but never finished. It was all there but I had not glued the 3/4" dowel to the appliance. It is a simple but very useful bench helper.

A photo of the appliance in use.

My guess is I made it as long as I did to use in the end dog holes so the vise would not be in the way. Whatever it is a great way to hold work for edge planning.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Thoughts While Driving

Tucson, AZ to Friendswood (Houston), TX is just under 1100 sm. From our house in Tucson it is only a few miles to I-10. Almost all the trip is on I-10 with only the last few miles on I-45, and State 528 (NASA Road 1). Because of I-10 the trip is quick, only about 16 hours of driving for an average speed of just under 68mph. My old Iron Butt motorcycle riding days habits kick in: Ride, fuel and pee, ride, repeat until you get there.

We did the going trip non stop, coming home we stopped in Ft. Stockton, TX mostly because I hate to ride or drive between Ft.Stockton and Van Horn after dark. It is one of the most deer infested roads in the States. Seldom can you go more than five miles without seeing a deer carcass on or beside the road over that route.

Bottom line there is plenty of time to think as you cover miles and miles of mostly high desert interrupted by only two major cities, El Paso, TX and San Antonio, TX. Also because I've done the trip so many times it has a rhythm to the fuel and pee stops, no surprises, no thought needed.

While MsBubba and I talked some about family and I talked about growing up and exploring the area we were driving through most of my thoughts were about where we are as a country, how dumb our country's current policies are towards Mexico and immigration along our Southern border. Also having to deal with the CBP checkpoints outside Sierra Blanco, TX and Deming, NM brings home how much our country has changed, how we have allowed policies such as "papers please" and drug checkpoints along with drug testing to be implemented.

I haven't the time or energy to go deeper than one example of how dumb our current President and his enablers are. While we were driving Trump talked of closing the Southern Border if he doesn't get his stupid wall funded. The economic costs of his government shutdown may hurry the coming recession, the cost of closing the border is almost incalculable. US border towns, both big and small, like El Paso or Del Rio rely on Mexican nationals crossing daily to shop for goods and food. It couldn't get dumber.

On a personal note; I was raised and my Grandmother was cared for in her later years by a "wetback"*. Carlos was always there except when he wasn't. When he was caught and sent back to Mexico there always seemed to be a cousin or brother that would show up to help out until three or four months later Carlos would be back. It was rinse and repeat until I grew up and left the farm and my Grandmother died. What happened to Carlos I'm ashamed to admit I don't know because I had been gone from the farm for many years before my Grandmother died and had lost touch.

We didn't have a sane policy toward immigration then, it is even less so today.


*I know an offensive term but it is the one used during that time for undocumented workers. While our language has improved our treatment of good folks that improve our lives hasn't.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Home in Tucson

It was a good trip, a boring report later and catching up on everyone's posts also to follow.

Most important I made it home with 100 Luling City Market links and a gal of sauce. Over 2000 miles of driving for sausage links and worth every mile, that and the BBQ, oysters, shrimp, Mexican food, and Vietnamese sandwiches. May be a good thing I no longer live in Houston I'd likely be over 300 lbs if I did.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Still in Houston

Sixteen hours doorstep to doorstep, not too bad for an OF. BTW, like with Bob, Blogger and iPads do not play well together and for the most part the iPad is all I have.  While I can read the posts, there will be no comments until we are back in Tucson.

Having the portable workbench with me has been great. The fix of the changing table was finished the first day here and I was able to finish the three legged stools in time for the Solstice Celebration.

So far on my march through Texas I've had a couple dozen oysters on the half shell, five pounds of boiled shrimp (I'm still working on finishing), kolaches, and I still working on Luling City Market BBQ, Thai, Vietnamese, and the crown jewel El Tiempo Cantina.  Folks who never enjoyed the early years of Mama Ninfa's can't relate but her sons have gotten damn close to Mama and maybe even bettered her in some areas.

MsBubba may stay longer, if she does I'll head back to Tucson in a couple, if not we will leave on the 31st.


Friday, December 21, 2018

On The Road Again

Making music with my best friends or some such. The critters, MsBubba and I will resurface in Houston in somewhere around 18 to 20 hours.

See you guys and gals on down the road,


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tenon Cutter

Matt asked about the tenon cutter. This one is from Lee Valley and cuts a 12* tenon matching LV's 12* reamer.

After drilling a 5/8" hole in the seat I ream it to size using the LV reamer and a blank test leg (not shown). Then it is turning and fitting the leg tenon to the seat mortise. I start with making a rough tenon on the lathe. A chisel or drawknife would work as well but I expect the lathe is faster.

Roughing the tenon:

Once the tenon is close I do the final fitting with the LV tenon cutter:

It is kinda like using a big pencil sharpener.

I suspect if I had decent turning skills the tenon would/could fit directly off the lathe. I don't so the tenon cutter is a feel good tool.

I will not have time to finish the stools before leaving for Houston but the parts are ready for final clean up and assembly. I'll have a bench and a working set of tools with me to finish the job and/or split another couple of seats.

Houston, kids (I guess I shouldn't call them kids they have been productive adults for a long time now), grandpeanuts, good Mexican food, BBQ, and Vietnamese to follow along with driving TBMRITS (I-10 The Best Motorcycle Road In The States) about 18 hours each way. When I did my 50 CC Ironbutt ride from San Diego to Jacksonville it only took a little over 40 hours and that included rest stops. It is a long way to Houston and most of it is in Texas. Life doesn't get much better.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Well (**&&^*(*())_)

Good, I didn't kick the dog or do anything else dumb. Bottom line some days the magic works, some days it doesn't.

Both seats split when I set the legs. When setting the legs you should tap 'em in just until they sound "right". If you add a tap a split is likely. The first seat split in two places. I did not think I had done the extra tap but the results tell the truth. I was able to save the legs, they will live to be used on another day.

I was extra careful with the second stool, so careful when I turned it over the back leg fell out. Back to the tap-tap-tap drill. When I turned it over everything looked ok so I started wedging the legs. The wedges drove in true and everything looked good up to the last wedge just as I finished the seat split.

I'll probably keep the second stool, butterfly the crack and use it in my shop.

There isn't enough time to start over so I'll have to figure out something else to give this year.


More Three Legged Stool

I didn't do any tick tock photos of the the first stool drill and fit of the mortise and tenons.  Did a little today on the second stool.

After shaping the legs I marked out the position of the mortises and the sightlines on the bottom of the seat. Once marked I drill the mortises. The first step is aligning the sight line with references. I like three, the location of the mortise center, a mid reference, and then a far reference.

Next I aline the center of the brace with the other two references.

Then check the resultant and start drilling. I will stop and check the sightline and the resultant every two to four turns.

Last a photo of the legs dry fit to the seat.

The tenons on the legs are very easy if you have a lathe, get 'em close on the lathe and then use a hand held tenon cutter for final fitting.

Next up is shaping and cleaning up the seat, sawing slots for wedges in the tenons, and then a little hide glue and knocking those suckers home. Once the glue dries trim the legs so the seat is level and put some finish on. More than likely Danish Oil because it cures quickly and I do not have a lot of time.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Three Leg Stool

MsBubba decided I needed to make a pair of stools for the boy child and the SIL's Solstice gift. Of course that was announced the day before yesterday and we leave for Houston Friday week*. It's doable if I make staked stools and the legs do not take too long to form. I like octagon legs on staked furniture but being old, slow, and not liking to be over a plane more than an hour or so before taking a long break. Making the needed six legs could take a couple or three days to form because I'm working right up to the time we leave. I could turn 'em but boring.

Machines to the rescue. I made a jig, simular the one I use to form the legs with a plane, to hold the leg blanks so I could run 'em through the planer. A day for the glue to dry on the jig and a hour running the six blanks through the planer and I have six octagon legs that just need five or ten minutes on the lathe to turn the tenon.

The jig:

The completed legs:

An hour or so drilling the mortises. A couple or three more fitting, wedging, and cleaning up and those suckers will be finished. An ataboy from MsBubba? Not a chance it is just expected :-).


*Texan for the Friday a week from the coming Friday.


Saturday, December 08, 2018

"...Never Try to Outfox the Dead..."

The full quote from The anarchist's Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz* is: "Most importantly, never try to outfox the dead when it comes to design. It's like a zombie movie; it almost never works out for the living."

The quote was about building tool chests but it has been my guide for almost everything I've done in woodworking for almost as long as I can remember. If you can figure out how the dead did it that is likely the best way to do the job. Be it tool chests, workbenches, boxes, chairs, whatever you are trying to design or build.

What brought this to mind were some of the comments, not on this blog but a forum where I posted a thread on building Moravian workbenches.

One was: "I'm a touch surprised that someone went to the trouble of building a bench with slanted legs and then mounted the leg vise dead vertical..." Then goes on to explain why a slanted leg vise was better. With no understanding of design decisions or even in reality the relative holding power of slanted vs. vertical chops. I'm not into intertubes pissing matches so I declined to answer but there were two logical questions the first being; how many workbenches have you build and/or used? The second; have you used a slanted leg vise and/or a vertical leg vise?

Another when on to explain to me why my placement and size of the long stretchers was totally wrong and that the only way to hold small pieces for planning was to pinch the work between a dog and a vise. Needless to say I left that one setting there like a turd in the punch bowl as well.

Bottom line the net allows everyone to be an expert and even better can be a great hoot. Just stay out of pissing matches and don't take it personal.


*Page 365 The Anarchist's Tool Chest. Copyright 2011.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Like When I Was Young

And had a new car. I've found myself in the shop just sitting with coffee in hand looking at the new bench and occasionally running my hand over it. I know it will pass but damn she sure is pretty.

I put the bench to use yesterday getting a seat blank true. The seat blank is now true and the bench worked with no problems other than figuring out how to hold the blank. It took a minute or two to work out the needed dogs, doe foot and holdfast placement. Once that bit of butt scratching passed the bench passed its first test with no problems.

She's a keeper.


Thursday, December 06, 2018

The Bench Really Is Finished

This time I mean it, the bench is finished, in place and ready to work. The small Moravian has been broken down and loaded in the truck so I can take it to Houston for our Winter Solstice celebration with the kids and have it available to repair the damage to the shipped changing table.

I'm not sure if the new bench will stay in the secondary bench position or if it will swap positions with the French/English bench.

I added ledgers to the long stretchers yesterday in case I decide on installing a lower shelf. I expect I will and it was easy to install the ledgers while the bench was apart for cleaning up the build marks.

Anyway here are some photos:

I don't know who is happier about it being finished MsBubba or me.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

If You Haven't Noticed

I'm a fanboy of the Moravian style workbench with a Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw.

Several years ago I started searching for a useable portable workbench.  With true retirement, none of this silly semi-retirement of the last twelve years where it has been short on the retirement and long on the semi. Over this period I've worked more than I ever did before but that is another story.

I knew I needed something to keep me from boredom while driving MsBubba around the country. I figured a portable workbench would be the real deal. Sounds easy, just make or buy something that is light, will fit into or break down easily to fit into the bins of the motorhome. Done deal, not so fast diesel breath.

Every design I came up with to build or buy all had a "yes but" factor. It seems with every workbench you could have some of the needed small footprint for transportation, light components, ease of assembly and disassembly, and a strong solid workbench. You could have two or three of the needed factors but never all four.

I toyed with the idea for several years and always ran into yes but until I stumbled across Will Myers' video building a Moravian style workbench. I could see at first viewing that the Moravian bench would satisfy the first three criteria with no problem and should do an ok job with the fourth. What I didn't realize was just how good a job it would do with the fourth factor of being a strong, solid workbench.

After viewing Will's video I build my first Moravian bench out of Home Depot DF and took it on our annual PNW trip. It worked a treat so much so I decided to build another this time with a Poplar base and a Beech slab and to replace my sharpening bench with the proof of concept Moravian bench.

Pretty much the same story, the second bench worked even better than the first. It was such a nice to work on bench I moved an older Roubo bench out of the secondary bench position and replaced it with the Moravian. The little bench worked so well and was such a pleasure to use I found myself doing at least 70% of my work on it instead of my massive French/English primary bench.

Nothing left to do but build a third Moravian. This time forgetting portably but building a bench with the mass and size needed for a shop bench. I completed that bench yesterday and in the little I've worked on it it does not disappoint.

After working on and building  several Moravian style benches as well as working on and building several Roubo style benches I can say with confidence the Moravian has every benefit of the French bench with non of the drawbacks. It uses less wood for the same sized bench, while lighter the finished bench is just as solid, the joinery is easier and more tolerant, and most important it can be broken down to move and/or modify as needed. The French bench once build is almost impossible to move and can be very difficult to modify.

As I said at the beginning I'm a fanboy. If you are thinking about building a bench, not just a portable bench but any bench, you should check out Will's video.


Monday, December 03, 2018

The Fat Lady Has Sung, Fini

Done, time to sweep up and put tools away. I'll leave the portable up and in the way for a bit. As I clean up the build the slab may, will, need to come off a few times and the portable bench makes it easier.

Over the next few days I'll add some dog holes, clean up the slab end grain and the tool tray. A couple of stops need to be made and fitted. And somewhere in there I'll need to take it apart to clean up the stretchers and bases.

Future bench appliances will be ledgers and a lower shelf and maybe a deadman. The deadman I've used before were more in the way than helpful, I think I may have figured out how to make one work, we will see.

Some photos of the bench:

And last the Glamour shot:

What a great bench, all the advantages of a Roubo with none of the drawbacks.


Sunday, December 02, 2018

Trouble With Unplugged Shop

For some reason Unplugged Shop is not refreshing. The last new post was Will Myers on 12/1. I've tried rebooting, Clearing my cache and history. Anyone else having a problem? Is it my computer or is the site just not working?

The new bench is all but finished. The vise is installed, all that is left is making a tool tray and cleaning up all the marks on the base plus I need to install the brass garder and trim the wedges on the chop as well as trim the top of the chop.

Still a bit of fiddling but it is functional. I'll leave the portable bench up for a few more days because I expect the slab will need removing several more times during the clean up

Later I may add ledgers and a bottom shelf and there is some though of a deadman, not likely but the English style apron is really handy and a dead man could almost do the same job.

During the clean up I'll trim the end grain on the slab and make bigger wedges for the tusk tenons and put some dog holes and a stop near the left end


I'm looking forward to putting this sucker to work.


Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Fat Lady Is In The Building

No singing yet but damn close.

The vise backer is installed. All that is left is making and fitting the chop and making a tool tray.

I figure the chop is a couple or three hours (which means at least 6) and the tool tray a couple more.  After those jobs the bench will be functional, just needing a little clean up. You may see joinery markings for months, clean up is usually pretty low on my list. I'd lot rather be making things.

The vise backer with the vise hole and the parallel guide hole:

My back is telling me it is whisky time in Tucson.


Fitting The Vise Backer Board

I've spend most of the day fitting the vise backer board. Next up one last M/T to chop in the slab and the vise backer. Then drilling the hole for the vise screw, and cutting the channel for the parallel guide. If things go faster than expected and my back isn't kvetching too much I may start on the chop before whisky time.

Whoops Bubba you are getting too far over your skis. I forgot about the M/T in the chop to hold the parallel guide. Whatever they are both small and quick M/Ts.

I'm not counting on it but I may finish this sucker before the weekend is over.