29
Apr 17

Tooltris continued…

As I mentioned last time, it’s a nice problem to have, but it’s still nicer when you solve it 😀

So it’s mostly a conventional plane rack, with a few quirky bits for the non-bench planes. Here’s the map:

Bench planes make up most of the area, with the T5 over on the far left because of its handle, the blocks below that because that was all the room there was, the compass plane sitting on a shelf, and the various plough planes and rebate planes and router planes in various holders, and the spokeshaves on hooks.

Nicked the general idea for this from here. Though mine’s less fancy 😀

The #044, #043 and #055C plane housings are just pegs and small boards or cutouts in the frame to keep everything aligned. Gravity does the rest, along with the extra friction from the felt. The #043 mount might need some more work but it seems okay for now. 

The #722 mount looks like this but there’s a small cap across the top to bridge the gap now. Works very well if I do say so myself.

And the block planes get small cubbies, but with a bar in front of each one to ensure the plane is at a steep angle; that way I can stack four in that space without coming away from the wall too much.

The spokeshaves and the #080 were a bit easier to build 😀

I still have to build the chisel racks (I have a nice idea for those) and there’s a small area for screwdrivers and such as well, and I want to have a space for the spare irons and the blade sets from the combination planes up in that top right corner; that has to be built yet as well but it won’t be anything fancy.

All that’s not complete either, there’s the toe cap for the bench planes and a header to add, but I wanted to mount it on the wall first:

24 5mm screws, because only five of those are in studs. And it is a lot of cast iron. But it seems okay so far…

Anyway, with it on the wall, I could add the toe cap:

More glue and screw construction here, this isn’t going to win awards, it’s shed furniture. A bit of felt along the top as well, because I’ll attach a header in front of that to make a shelf:

And done. Had to fettle the ends of the shelf a bit with the spokeshave, but it fits, and more glue and screws later, here we are. Everything fits. I still have space for a #08, which I’ll get as soon as one in decent condition shows up on ebay for less than the price of its weight in platinum, and for a #02, which won’t ever show up for as low a price as its weight in platinum, but that’s collectors items for you. I’m holding its space for when I find one going for €5 in a car boot sale 😀

Things are starting to get a bit tidier at last. I still have to sort out the drills and the saws though. I’ll probably move the fret and coping saw from where they are now over to the left side, put the drills where they are now and put the saws beneath them and the hammers. Or I’ll put the drills on the front wall of the shed, behind me as I face the bench. Not sure yet. And of course, now that everything has a place, I’ll buy something else that’ll need more room than I have, like two more braces.

Not to mention the breast drill that’s still in the post…

But next job is definitely going to have to be that chisel rack. The chisels have gone back into a tool roll, and using those things is a pain in the fundament…


03
Apr 17

Tooltris

So, don’t get me wrong, I know this is a nice problem to have, but still…

Dovetailed and rebated border all glued up and fitted to the plywood panel, grand but now I have to figure out how to get all those planes on there and the chisels as well (the hammers will move to the side wall I think).
Also, leaving space for a Record #08 on the left, a Record #02 on the right and a Record #05 which I was absolutely certain I had bought but apparently I’d decided I didn’t need one because I had a #05½ and a #04½ already. Stupid sensible idea, that one.
Mounting might be interesting. I don’t think french cleats will help here, so I guess we’re down to a few dozen countersunk screws through the plywood and into the studs in the shed wall. But that’s an awful lot of cast iron…
BTW, I don’t expect much from knotty pine whitewood bought from woodies, but dammit, was I asking too much to expect that a 1.8m length of 43x12mm whitewood would be 1.8m of whitewood and not several 30cm lengths scarfed together? Good grief.

25
Mar 17

Hey Presto-n…

Another new toy today. While building the crib, my favorite tool very quickly became my Record 151 spokeshave.

It’s a really simple little tool and works brilliantly one you follow Richard Maguire’s tip and take off the adjustment knobs because you can’t ever get them both to agree well enough to keep the blade properly adjusted, so instead you just clamp the blade with the cap and set it with a hammer (which is a much finer adjustment than it sounds). It’s brilliant for anything with curves, or for rounding over sharp corners quickly for that matter.

But.

While it’s a lovely tool to work with, and far beyond cheapo Drapers and the like (I don’t care what Paul Sellars says on that one, I’ve seen the Draper spokeshave and it’s just manky), it does have faults. The casting of the body does not match the cap perfectly, for example – there are lugs on the sides of the lever cap that should fit into the body, but there’s a good 3-4mm of a gap because the tolerances weren’t finer. And you can set the blade further forward very readily and surprisingly delicately with a hammer, but you can’t retract it with the hammer, you have to undo the cap and reseat the blade back at the start and advance it again with the hammer, which can be annoying at times. It does the job, but I keep thinking there are things that can do the job better.

Well, probably the best out there right now according to everyone with a few hundred euro to drop on a spokeshave, is this:
That’s a Lee Nielson Boggs Spokeshave (Boggs being the rather accomplished chairmaker who designed it). And if you have approximately twenty times the price I paid for my 151, you can test it to find out 😀

Me, I went a different way and chased after a Preston. Edward Preston & Sons were the Lee Nielson of their day, arguably at the very top of the toolmaking world from around 1825 to somewhere between 1911 (when Edward Preston died) and 1932 (when the company was bought by Rabone). Unlike most of the other manufacturers who seem to have mostly copied stanley designs, the preston tools were markedly different. And their spokeshaves were neat, elegant, and clever. They had a well-known design (the 1391) that had very decorative casting:

But as good as it’s supposed to have been, I just didn’t like the look of it, so I went after their plainer version and finally managed to get a good example of one for, okay, just shy of forty euro including postage, but that’s still a third the price of the Lee Nielson. And just look at how pretty it is!

It’s been restored and it looks absolutely magnificent. And note that there’s only one adjustment knob so you don’t have to worry about misaligning the blade by not being in sync with both knobs, so you don’t need to adjust it with a hammer.

And the blade looks almost unused:

I’ll have to make a new sharpening holder for it, but it’s got enough steel there for a while longer yet, and Ray Iles makes replacement blades today for about 15 euro-ish.

Now, I just need to think of a new project to use it on 😀


09
Mar 17

Wristrest

So I’m still cleaning down the shed from the cot (finally got all the shavings under control…) but yesterday an officemate (hi Gary!) was looking at MassDrop (think “what to get for the rich geek who has everything” with a pricetag to match) and specifically at a wrist rest. For those who don’t type all day, it’s something to rest the wrist on while typing:

If you type all day every day like a lot of software engineers do, this is a pretty necessary thing or you wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve had that, it’s not fun (it’s why I’ve used kinesis ergonomic keyboards for twenty years).

So the specific one Gary was looking at was wooden, and nice enough if a bit simple:

I mean, it’s not some gel-filled cushion, it’s not articulated, it’s just a shaped plank of wood. Walnut maybe? Fourteen inches wide (the width of a MacBook Pro) and about three inches deep.

They’re charging $95 for it (or they were, it’s not for sale any longer). I nearly choked on my coffee. I told him that was insane, that it was a lump of wood and not worth it and that I could knock that up in my shed in twenty minutes from an offcut. So he said “prove it”.

That’s how I keep getting myself into these things. You’d think I’d have learned by now.

So I go home, I find a piece of walnut offcut (in this case it was a length intended to be part of the cot frame but a bad rip cut and a waney edge made it unusable for that), I cut out a 14″x3″ piece from it (I don’t even take the time to lay it out) and skim plane it to clean off the rough-cut furriness. Then I plane one face and edge to square, and shoot the ends square from that. I don’t bother with the other edge or face because they’re going to get shaped anyway. And I cut the corners curved on the front using my new toy that just arrived from Dictum today:

Well, I have a project or ten in mind that will involve dovetails and I want to try sawing out the waste on the pinboard instead of chopping it out because that took a bit longer than I thought it would on the cot drawer. I need a better place for it to live though…

I also need to finish tidying up, and one of the next shed projects is tool storage. But for now…

And from there, I get out the spokeshave and round over edges and I use the jack plane to cut a quick chamfer on the front edge and then go over everything with the spokeshave again to get it all nice and smooth, and I hit the ends with some sandpaper for a few seconds to get the last little bits around that knot on the left front side.

Total time from start to here was about 25 minutes or so (I was faffing about a bit with the new fretsaw). With machines, that’s two tablesaw cuts, two mitre saw cuts and a run-around on a router table, so maybe three minutes?

It needed a little finish and I had the dregs at the bottom of the shellac jar to hand so…

One coat on by brush, then in for a cup of tea and a bit of Richard Maguire’s latest sharpening video while it dried. Then out to the shed again, some steel wool to knock back the first coat of shellac and rag on a second. Back to the house for more tea and Maguire, and half an hour later I take the offcut piece of felt I had from lining the cot drawer and cut a small piece out of that and spread it and the underside of the rest with contact cement from the end of a tube left over from putting leather on the bench vice jaws.

Let that get tacky for ten minutes, then press the two together and trim the excess. And then a final coat of briwax on top for the shiny.

By this point I realise I’m foostering so I draw a line under it and wander back in from the shed. Total work time is about 30-35 minutes (with something like 90 minutes of waiting on finishes while watching videos and drinking tea in there too). And the test fit worked:

And it doesn’t just work on my laptop, it works in production*:

So $95 versus €2. Hell of an exchange rate, even when you count the three minutes it’d take to make with machines, labour, marketing and so on.

 

*That’s a joke for the other IT people btw. 


26
Feb 17

Foostering

Right, I just need one or two hours of calm dry weather and…

*sigh* Feck’s sakes. Fine.

But at least I can put in the glue blocks to support the top panel. Yesterday I trued up a corner of a stick of walnut I had as an offcut from the drawer front and then cut it into four ~10cm lengths. Granted, this isn’t traditional, glue blocks are traditionally whatever cheap softwood was lying around, but I had this as an offcut so why not.

Then today I had a few minutes of trying to figure out how to clamp them in place because I didn’t know how this was done traditionally. One quick internet search later and yup, you just paint the glue face with glue (hide glue is traditional but apparently any wood glue works), rub it on the spot where you want the glue block to stick to ensure both sides have glue and there’s no air in the glue joint, then hold it in place for a few seconds and there it sticks.

Don’t give it a knock until the glue cures, and there you go, glue blocks.

But eventually there were two or three dry hours in the late afternoon, so I moved the cot outside for the last time and started fettling the drawer. Which it turns out was necessary – when I was assembling it yesterday I had to stop half-way through glue-up to shave down the width of the plywood base, but obviously I didn’t shave enough and it had pushed out the sides of the drawer at the base by a few mm, so now I had to shave back the outside with planes in order to fettle it.

But eventually I got it to fit smoothly, and I’d cleaned up the glue and joints as well. Then it was a case of pushing it in flush, finding it was hanging up on the drawer rails, trimming them to give a rounded ramp type profile at the start so the drawer would go flush, then marking off its position on the rails with a pencil, and gluing a stop block in place on the rails with a cushioning pad. I clamped those in place for a half-hour or so just to be sure, then took off the clamps and glued the rails in place. That was the last bit of construction on the crib.

Yay!

Well, okay, I have to screw on the drawer pull, but I’m not counting that because.

I SAID BECAUSE.

And then it was time to finish the drawer, and I’m just going to go with shellac. I had thought of using milk paint and osmo over the top of that, but the more I thought of it, the less I liked the idea of a red drawer, even though it would have been funny. So just shellac.

And that’s the last of my shellac as well, so the whole drawer got three coats (sanding back after coat #2), and the front gets a final fourth coat.

Dovetail money shot, right there.

And in the meantime the cot got moved into the kitchen.

…and the thing rocks. The torsion the mis-bent steambent upright put on the frame torqued it out of square by about 3mm over the length of the piece, but the MDF assembly platform had gotten wet and had smushed enough to hide that. Sod. So tomorrow (I have a day off), I’ll take the drawer, put the pull in place, maybe line it because the plywood’s a bit unpleasant looking, put that into the frame and mount the mattress platform and basically put it all together, see how bad the rocking is and trim the feet to stabilise it.

And that’ll be it. It’ll finally be done.

 

 

Shit, this thing won’t fit in the car, how the hell do I deliver it?

To-Do List:

  • Make a drawer
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish drawer with shellac.
  • Glue the drawer supports into the frame.
  • Even more last minute fettling and foostering (panel support blocks, drawer stop blocks)
  • EVEN MORE last minute fettling (levelling the legs, screwing on the drawer pull, lining the drawer)
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

26
Feb 17

Drawering to a close…

The idea was to get the last bits done today. Didn’t quite make it, but came close.

Got the cot out of the shed first so I could do some work. Looks nice in the sunshine…

Then made up the glue blocks I was thinking about yesterday to support the top panel.

And then gathered all the tools up…

The #778 is there to cut a small alignment rebate on the inside of the tails for the dovetails, in what Rob Cosman refers to as the “140 trick”. I don’t have a Stanley #140 (it’s a rather expensive skew-blade block plane) and the #778 is a little finicky for this, but it works if you’re careful. The idea is that you cut a tiny little ledge in the tailboard and after the tails are cut you sit the pinboard up against the tails and on that ledge to align it and let you mark the pins more easily (and it works quite well).

That’s the four boards laid out to check for any obvious weird whoopsies. The coloured dots are a David Barron trick to keep track of the pin and tail boards for each corners so I don’t accidentally cut the tails for one corner and mark off for the pins of a different corner and bugger everything up.

Laid out using dividers (I use one dividers for the shoulder pins and then the other dividers to lay out the tails) and the David Barron dovetail guide.

Cut out the groove for the plywood base with a #043 plough, which is pretty much what happens when you take the unix philosophy of making tools that do just one thing but do it very well and then apply it to woodworking tools. It’s not much use for anything other than cutting this one groove, for drawer bottoms, but it’s probably the best tool out there to do the job.

Haven’t cut the tails yet here (but did lay them out) in order to put the groove in the middle of the bottom tail.

See what I mean? For any other groove, it’s not a great tool (which is why you have plough planes like the #044), but for this one, it’s just fantastic.

Sawed out the tails with the ryoba and the David Barron guide, then chopped out the waste with a ¼” chisel.

Not horrific. Cutting out the pins though, did convince me that I really need to get one of those Knew Concepts fretsaws. Chopping out the waste between the tails is one thing; chopping out the waste between pins is a whole other ball game and the fretsaw would be a lot faster (plus, cutting curves with a saw, what’s not to love? My coping saw, that’s what not to love. That thing is terrible…)

On to the half-blind dovetails for the drawer front. Marked it off against the tailboard, reinforced the knife marks, highlighted with pencil, marked the waste and sawed down the diagonal with the Barron guide and the ryoba.

Then took another trick I heard from Cosman’s youtube channel and smashed down the fibres on the remainder of the diagonal using a piece of metal with the same width as the saw kerf (in this case, a spare card scraper). This means I now have both sides of the cavity cut out fully and that makes it easier to chop out the waste.

For the last few mm I put the board upright in the vice and pare, rather than chopping.

By the way, Walnut. Wow, is this so much easier in this wood than in pine. If you want to learn to do this, don’t try it in pine. I mean, don’t learn in walnut either, it’s way too expensive for that, but try it in a hardwood like poplar. It’s so much easier than in softwoods.

I’ve left out the amusing bit where I fit the plywood base, trim it to size by carefully measuring it and double checking the measurements and then somehow managing to cut it a full inch too short anyway and having to bodge up a fix. And the fun part where during the glue-up I found that the plywood base was still too wide by a few mm and I had to disassemble it, plane down the base to width, and complete the glue-up. Thank goodness for hide glue’s long open time, that’s all I’m saying…

Also, I NEED A BIGGER SHED. Holy carp…

To-Do List:

  • Make a drawer
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish drawer with shellac.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Glue the drawer supports into the frame.
  • Even more last minute fettling and foostering (panel support blocks, drawer stop blocks)
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

16
Feb 17

Complaning

Y’see this happy chap? It’s from startwoodworking.com btw, it’s surprisingly hard to find a good side-on photo of how you use a hand plane. You’ll notice that he’s pushing the hand plane along the wood using his leg muscles more than his arm muscles, by leaning into the plane as he pushes it. This is normal, natural movement that you do any time you push an object that isn’t sliding round like a greased pig in a swimming pool.

Do you see what else he’s go there?

FECKING ROOM TO MOVE.

This is the shed at the moment.

Lean into the plane? I’m doing well if I can reach the shagging thing at the moment.

*sigh*. And I have to thickness drawer sides, which means taking off wood, half a millimetre at a time in a 2cm-wide strip. Over a whole board. Evenly. By about eight millimetres. Gah. See this thing?

This is a dewalt 735 planer thicknesser. It costs nearly €700 if you’re silly enough to buy it in a shop in Dublin where the prices are usually 50% too high. And if I had the room to store it, I would have bought two of them by now. I mean, finish planing, that’s one thing. It’s awkward, but even on the largest panel in the crib it was doable.

Granted, you need the card scraper in places and it’s a pain having nowhere to stand at times.

But thicknessing, that’s a whole other story. There’s no finesse in that, it’s just lots of pushing through wood and hoping it ends soon. Christopher Schwartz was right, the first power tool you should get is a planer thicknesser. It’s just that they’re also bloody loud. This is not a machine that endears you to the neighbours if you use it at 2200h on a worknight. It’s about as loud as your wife finding you feeding the neighbourhood cat. To the blender.

I mean, ideally, I’d resaw the boards to thickness, but honestly, I’ve had enough of that. The ryoba is just not up to the job if the plank is more than two or three inches wide, and I’m still waiting for saw files to sharpen the western saws I have but so far they’ve just not made the task any easier. A bandsaw might, but (a) where the hell would I put it, and (b) bandsaws that can resaw an eight-inch-wide board are not like bandsaws that are just used for cutting curves; they are not small things. You have to use wider blades for reasons that involve clearing a kerf, physics and metallurgy, and those wider blades need larger wheels in the bandsaw to cope with bending radii, and that leads to a big freestanding monster of a machine.

So basically, I’m stuck inside the limits of the 8’x6′ shed. At least for now. But every so often, it’s helpful to complane (see what I did there?) about it.

At least the top panel is finish planed and one of the drawer sides is now thicknessed.

And the final coat of shellac is on the mattress platform and on the rear upright.

 

So not a totally wasted hour or two in the shed.

To-Do List (stuff in progress in blue:

  • Finish plane top panel
  • Make a drawer
    • Thickness the boards for the drawer.
    • Cut the drawer front to size.
    • Cut the drawer back and sides to size.
    • Cut dovetails for drawer.
    • Groove drawer with #43 for plywood base.
    • Maybe add runners underneath the drawer?
    • Finish plane drawer front
    • Finish drawer front with shellac.
    • Paint drawer sides with milk paint.
    • Assemble drawer.
  • Assemble and glue-up and drawboring of everything.
  • Finish entire assembly with several coats of Osmo wood wax.
  • Close door of shed, lock it, walk away and never do another project with a deadline ever again.

22
Dec 16

Getting technical

So this:

is a shooting board (this one’s from Popular Woodworking, mine’s not as neat). Idea’s simple – for thinish boards (once you get up to an inch thick, you start just holding it in the vice and running a block or bench plane across it), you feed the board into the plane which is on its side and it will true up the end so it’s exactly 90 degrees to both faces and edges. Which is handy for making things that don’t look like they were drawn by Escher while drunk. Problem is, most of my planes don’t have big sides – they’re the traditional bailey pattern and have rounded cheeks:

Which works, but it is a bit tippy. And the sides aren’t quite 90 degrees to the sole either, they’re a degree or so off. No problem most of the time, but for shooting board use, it’s a pain. Plus you have to use the lateral adjuster to get the blade exactly vertical and then use it again when you finish using the shooting board and so on. There are specialist planes made for this sort of thing, like the Veritas one:

But that’s about three hundred euro, so no 😀

However, Record did make a plane that was intended for use in schools, called the T5 (for Technical apparently):

(that photo from recordhandplanes.com btw, which is an excellent reference for these things)

So I’d been keeping an eye out for a T5 in decent nick on ebay and recently saw one and won the auction for it (by about 51 pence, cheekily) for a sixth the price of the veritas, and today it arrived:

It’s in marvellous condition, perfect paint job, perfect varnish on the handles, shiny brass, damn near ready to use out of the box (the blade needs sharpening, but that’s normal). It’s probably in better shape than any of my other planes, except a #4 that’s also immaculate (I don’t think anyone ever used that #4, it just got displayed and then sold 60 years later). If you’re looking for this sort of stuff, I’d recommend the ebay seller I bought this from, lovely chap to deal with and excellent quality stuff.

But enough on the new toy (which will be getting a workout with the slats for the crib I suspect), on to the day’s work, and today was to finish fettling the back panel. This proved fiddly, eventually turning out to be off-square because of an unevenness in the groove for the panel in the bottom rail because the fence of the #44 plane was riding on the benchtop. But I got it square and most of the gaps were gone or down to less than half a millimetre. The idea of drawboring these grows more and more attractive (that block of white wood behind the T5 above in those photos is an offcut I got a while back which is a lovely contrasting colour and is perfectly straight-grained, perfect for making small dowel pins with. I’ll test it on some walnut off-cuts and see how it goes.

With that done, I cut the front panel using the back panel as a template, cut the rebate in the back and the bevel on the front, making the rebate a bit deeper on this one because I’d like the center of the panel to be lower than the rails or at least level with them as it’ll be butted up against the side of the bed.

Then on to the frames, again cutting the long rails using the back rails as a template and then marking the mortices onto the curved front rails from the back legs. More mortice chopping and tenon cutting and cleanup and fettling followed.

By the way, when cleaning up tenons with a chisel, don’t blink…

Those things are just plain unpleasant…

Anyway, some fitting and checking and fettling later, with a lot more stress this time because a mistake with the curved rails would be difficult to repair, and the front frame was done… okay, minus the grooves for the panel so it’s not fully assembled but here we are….

Heh. Elephant-y. Lets stand it up…

Er. Hm. This was a problem I had not considered. That is literally touching the ceiling on both sides and sitting flat on the bench. The foam isn’t holding it up – it’s actually in compression like a spring between bench and table. Assembly… may be challenging. I may need to do it outside the shed, and the weather is not forecast to be great (as in, driving rain and gale force winds and freezing temperatures, none of which react well with hide glue, walnut, ash or humans).

Gonna need a bigger shed.


13
Apr 16

The weekend’s project:
2016-04-08 21.04.30a

A Record 5½ jack plane, bought off ebay for £26. In dire need of cleaning up.

Continue reading “5½” »


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