Dec 17


I actually managed to tick off almost every line on the to-do list for the week by Sunday night for a change. Before doing any “real” work though, I had to get the new interlopers off the bench. It’s been a while since I did framing-level work with 2x4s, but it’s like riding a bicycle…

…downhill on a wet slope towards a brick wall while blindfolded.

But since I didn’t care what the end product looked like, it was fast enough work…

Rough as 10-grit sandpaper, but it got them off the bench and me back to it. I might make something less… industrial at some point, but for now…

That’s the table legs profiled and rounded on the back (the front has to wait until the frames are glued up). Next to drill the holes for the tabletop attachment screws and that needed my big cordless drill…

I quite like that drill, it’s in magnificent condition for something that’s getting on for 70.

It is, by the way, a nice luxury to have a brace that’s dedicated to countersinking holes. You wouldn’t think it, but you tend to use it a lot…

And glueup. Hide glue again, hence the hot water bucket (hide glue and Irish winters don’t mix well). And that’s where I left it on Saturday evening.

On Sunday morning, I took off the clamps and things looked okay, so I got the tabletop up onto the bench and marked off the final sizes. Not much trimming needed in width, really just straightening up the edge there, but a good three inches came off the length because otherwise the table would be tippy.

I did try using the bandsaw to do the rough-cut there but it *really* didn’t like my new experimental bandsaw guides…

Teflon rod instead of the steel rod that had been there. Oh well. I might just have been overloading it with torque in the piece because it was so large it was almost unmanageable, so I’ll test it on some smaller pieces later and either leave or replace the teflon guides with the originals.

With it trimmed to size (at least roughly, the end grain is going to need a final session on the shooting board), it was on to smoothing the tabletop. Oddly the #4½ wasn’t getting it done even after touching up the blade on the diamond stones; I had it set to a really high cutting angle last time I was working with it, on some sapele; I guess it’s just not biting on the oak as a result, though I’m not sure why not. Oh well, out with the #4 instead and that got it done quite nicely. It’s not fully done; I want to use the #5 to smooth the underneath a bit, and attach the top and then I’ll come back and finish up the smoothing work on the top.

Then on to the next project and picking out the wood from the board to match the plans. This will be a blanket chest – if you know what that is, the scale might seem strange, but there’s a reason for it (just run with it being a very small chest for now). I had a 9×30″ oak board that I could get all the rails and stiles from, even if it has a nasty bow a few inches from one end; but I want a final thickness of three-quarters of an inch and it’s just over an inch now so I can get that bow out. The posts I already had gotten from some 8/4 oak at the end of last week.

The bandsaw might be fussy but it does let you get rips done fast… even if you then have to spend a while with the #5 to get the edges back to being clean again.

Just trying to get a feel for the overall size there (it will be smaller than this – the joints aren’t cut and the oak’s not thicknessed yet). There will also have to be panels, this is just the frame, but one thing at a time. And I have an idea for the floorboards as well.

Finally going to get to use the pigsticker on this one 🙂

All the grooves cut in the posts. I’m wondering whether to thickness the rails and stiles before or after grooving. I’m leaning towards after. I didn’t dive into the morticing either, it’s too late in the day at this point for that, I’d wind up morticing the wrong groove somehow.

So, last job of the day, glueing up a blank for another bandsaw box.

An offcut of walnut from a long rip that went badly (you can just see where the saw wandered there). It’s a bit small for anything else really, but for a bandsaw box it’s grand. Also, walnut. It’s basically cheating using this stuff (and at nearly €90 per cubic foot, it’s definitely pay-to-win cheating).

And I’ll leave things there for the evening. The last piece of hardware I need for the table should arrive on Monday, and I might be into the finishing before the end of the week if I’m lucky, as well as making progress on the chest and the bandsaw box.

Nov 17

Another interloper

No work in the shed last night, on account of aches, pains, freezing despite sitting beside the fire, and the usual pre-cold fun stuff. I crashed, went to bed, worked from home today (yes, you can type while under a duvet), and by afternoon was feeling somewhat more human.

So this evening when junior and mommy got back home, junior and I opened the large boxes from FFX and Rutlands that arrived over the last day or two and dragged the latest interloper to the shed…

It’s… slightly larger than anticipated. But not by too much. What it was was loud. The specs said under 85dbA, the meter says 96dbA. And when you start sanding, it peaks somewhere around 106dbA – 3dBA louder than the dang bandsaw. Hmmm. Maybe when it’s on the base and everything’s nailed down… yeah, who am I kidding. Not sure what to do about this. At least it doesn’t have a lot to do in the shed, it’s mainly for bandsaw boxes and the like.

Well, at least I’m all stocked up on glue for a while. I’m looking forward to trying the plastic razor blades as well to see how they cope with glue cleanup. The angle box may be useful for the bandsaw and the sanding table, all the dremel sanding paper should be useful for small parts, and the black-and-white tube there on the right up against the triton are some teflon rods that I’m going to use to replace the steel rods that are the bandsaw guides on the bandsaw. This way I figure I can tighten the guides up against the blade itself, turn it on for a minute or so and it’ll wear away the teflon to get the perfect spacing without damaging the blade. We’ll see. There are some smaller ball bearings in the post as well to try to replace the thrust bearings with so the larger blades don’t contact them when running without load, which is how every guide out there says to set them up (the bandsaw guide holder I have just won’t let me adjust that, because Cheap Tool 😀 ).

Also got a few grades of sandpaper for the sander. Now I have to figure out where to put all this stuff. I had a plan to put together a very, very rough platform from some 2x4s that were left over from making the bench…

The key here is to do this fast. Other projects are a-waiting, but until this is done I literally can’t get my bench back, there’s nowhere to put the Triton. So it’s all butt joints and glue and screws and forget face planing or anything we don’t have to do…

That’s the twp sides done. Next up, five crossbars (two up top, two undeneath which get castors later, and one at the back for cross-bracing), all of which will be lap-jointed to the sides along with glue and screws. And if I can find metal bracing brackets tomorrow I’ll use those too. This thing is going to be ugly and I don’t care, I’ll do a nicer one later on. Like, after this one breaks.

BTW, on the right, a Bosch power drill. On the left (well, in the middle really), a brace with a hex key screwdriver bit that doesn’t really fit the jaws. Three guesses which one crapped out on me after the second screw?

Hint: it wasn’t the seventy-year-old tool that has so much torque it could twist the screw into a pretzel if you wanted to.

Stupid batteries. If I wanted to replace them, I’d just buy a new drill – it’s almost cheaper that way (do you want one battery for 50 euro or two batteries and a new drill for 80?). Gah.

Nov 17


So it’s pretty obvious that all my woodworking stuff is done with hand tools, right?

It’s not because of an ideology, it’s because 8’x6′ sheds don’t give you a lot of room for power tools or machinery. I do find the power tools really obnoxiously loud, but that’s a secondary point and it’s mainly because the cheap modern power tools tend to use lightweight construction and universal motors in order to hit a price point and so make a lot of high-pitched noise — older stuff with induction motors and a lot of cast iron are a lot less screechy (you definitely do need hearing protection anyway, but for the neighbours it’s a significant qualitative difference).

And for some things – joinery, shaping, finishing and so on – it’s more of a challenge to use hand tools and so more satisfying to do. But there are some tasks that just don’t have that challenge. I should say for the non-woodworkers here that the whole “what really counts as hand tool woodworking?” question is a long-running one. My answer is that if it’s a task that in the 18th century was handed off to apprentices to go do unsupervised, well, handing it off to a machine isn’t really showing a lack of ability, just a lack of time.

All of which prevarication is a run-up to saying I’ve bought a new power tool for the first time in a long while.

Well, what else is a husband supposed to do on a day off while the wife is off visiting her sister? Exactly, bandsaws.

This is one of those rebadged clones of the Record Power BS9, there are a few dozen manufacturers selling them – Craftsman have the BAS230, Ryobi have the BS903, Scheppach the HBS20, Einhell the TC-SB200, Charnwood the W711, Titan does the TTB705BDS and Aldi sell a WorkZone variant as well. The Aldi one was the one that caught my eye initially as it seemed it would fit in the shed based on Peter Millard’s video about using it in the shop; and he also pointed out that for the money and the size (and within its design parameter), it was a nice little design that was worth having around:

So I was waiting for the Aldi version to show up again, but that didn’t look like it was happening this year so I trotted off to Screwfix to order the Titan (ordering or buying off the shelf in any Dublin shop would have doubled the pricetag).

The nice delivery man showed up this morning with the box so off I trotted to the shed with and unpacked it.

Then, a quick check of the alignment of the blade — see the quick setup guide by Alex Snodgrass here:

I was pleasantly surprised by the guides in the Titan; rather than the thrust bearing’s face being the point of contact with the blade, it’s the bearing’s edge that makes contact. That’s a better solution but slightly more expensive to make. One of the myriad small differences between the variants of this design I suppose, along with nice touches like the little window to check blade tracking without opening the case:

There are less fun bits – the screw latches of the case aren’t captive nuts opened by a single half-twist, but full-on ten-turns-to-latch bolts. And the bottom door isn’t fully closed at the top when the bolt is fully seated. But the blade seems to run quite true and the supplied blade is quite clean-cutting. I do have three others coming from Tuffsaws – a fine quarter-inch blade for curves, a three-eights inch blade for general work and a half-inch blade for heavier work, though “heavier work” here is quite relative – this is never going to resaw anything wider than 70mm.

I didn’t abandon the hand tools when building the base at least 😀 The base gets holdfast-ed down to the bench for work.

Of course, it can’t live on the bench, the only place for it is down on the floor (with the blade guide dropped right down to protect the blade of course). Just … right… down… there.

Ah. Right. I have been putting off the tidy up and clamp storage job for a while, haven’t I? Oh well.

One afternoon later…

Clear floor space and as to the clamps…

Much tidier. So from now on, the bandsaw lives here:

So this should help with some rough work, and I wouldn’t mind trying to make a bandsaw box or two. I have a bunch of tiny scraps of walnut left over from the cot that I have been trying to find a use for.

The glue should be dry by tomorrow, and then I can give it a go…

Oct 17

Scraping by…

Part of the tidy-up in the shed meant getting the scrapers off the little holder they were in and up on the wall…

And then the second thing was going through every single plane and chisel on the wall, going over all the unpainted parts with 600 grit wet&dry paper and WD40 to take off the surface rust, then rubbing briwax into the steel as a barrier against rust (renaissance wax would be better and some’s on the way). I’ll have to do this every weekend for a while to get the barrier layer set up properly.

I hate condensation. Gah.

There may be a dehumidifier in the shed’s future.

Sep 17

French cleats and bench grinders

So I’ve said once or twelve times that I needed to do something about this stuff in the shed:

The little air compressor proved useless for shellac and stuff so it’s moved indoors to the lab for future mucking about with airfix models with junior and the like. The dremel, well, that’s handy for stuff so it still lives there, but the grinder was just a pain in the fundament. It’s on an MDF base with a small cleat on the bottom for the Black&Decker Workmate to grab onto (or the vice on the bench these days). So I finally got round to fixing that up and getting it out from underfoot.

Smaller base, cleat at the front end to act like a bench hook and a holdfast at the back keeps it nice and stable (the base tends to cup a bit, I don’t think it’ll last forever). Pulled the stone on one side (the finer grit stone because if I need that grit, I just use sandpaper for the scary sharp method or I use the diamond stones – I’ve never used that fine grinder stone since I got it) and put a wire wheel on there to help clean up rust off some older tools. The wire wheel wouldn’t fit in the guard, so I lost it.

If that cleat looks familiar, it’s because you’ve watched woodworking videos on youtube in the last decade. It’s a french cleat with a matching cleat on the wall.

So now it’s out from underfoot and positioned perfectly to remove an eyeball as you enter the shed. Who really needs to look to the left though?

May 17

Cleared the bench…

Finally got the last of the tools off the bench and onto the wall by building a small holder for the drills from a hardwood offcut and some recycled plywood. And managed to get a rebate and some stopped dados in as practice 😀

The shed is now finally looking like a proper workshop. I mean, it’s not done yet – the western saws need to go up on the wall too (another magnetic tool rack for them I think, and mount them below the japanese saws – lidl didn’t have any left so ebay it’ll be), and I do need to do something with the grinder and the airbrush, which will probably mean french cleats of some kind and probably redoing the mounting board for the grinder. But for now, it’s not too bad.

Yeah, okay, there’s a huge mess to the right hand side. That’s a bunch of boards rough-cut down to components for some small tables I’m going to build, and they’ve accumulated crap on top of them as any flat space does. I’ll have to tidy up the shed during the week.

But at least now I can work on something that’ll actually leave the shed instead of living there until I recycle it 😀

Oh, and a new moisture meter and thermometer as well. No huge reason for one, I just came across it while buying something else on aliexpress and it cost just under two euro shipped so what the hell.

May 17


It’s been one of those weeks where you don’t get a huge amount of time in the shed, but the chisel rack is finally done. And I have new toys…

The breast drill was in spectacularly good condition for something made somewhere in the 1950s. And used too, there are small marks here and there on it that say this thing wasn’t living in its original packaging until now. And with it, that’s almost all the hand drills I want (I wouldn’t mind a small push-drill for very small holes, 2mm and below, but I don’t need that for anything in the immediate short-term future; but for some tasks, like alignment pins for glueups, a 2mm drill and toothpicks are useful). But for now, I have two eggbeaters, a full set of braces and the breast drill in between the two (there’s a progression through the drills depending on how big the hole diameter is and how hard it will be to drill – you start with the eggbeaters up to about 5mm, then the breast drill from 5mm up to about 10mm, then the braces from then on, using larger braces as you need more torque. There’s some overlap rather than hard dividing lines, but it’s a decent rule of thumb).
And I can have drills dedicated to countersink bits as well, which speeds things up.

And I bought some slightly more specialist gauges as well.

Up top, a grasshopper gauge, which gets used to mark things when the reference face is a bit awkward to get to, and on the bottom is a panel gauge for glued-up panels (made from mahogany so it’s fairly old as well).

But about that chisel rack. The idea was to try to get all the chisels I use up on the wall, along with the gouges, and the usual design, the one I used until now, has disadvantages.

So this is grand if you have space, but if you are limited to 18″ or so of width for the chisels, you can’t get quite so many in and while you can stack them as shown here, you have to stagger them out away from the wall, and there’s not much room for that in my shed. And they have a weakness in that there’s short grain between the holes, so unless you make them from plywood or a more durable hardwood, you can snap out the between-holes chunks pretty readily (either while making them or while using them). And most of my shed stuff is made from fairly cheap pine bought from wherever was handiest (so usually Woodies, and their pine is terrible). So I wanted a design that let me stagger racks without having to come out more than three or four inches from the wall and which avoided the short grain problem.

So here’s the idea:

You have a short length at an angle, you put small cut-blocks behind it to keep the chisels sliding to the left or right, and you have something on the wall that the edge rests on.

And now we just need the shelf-like things on the wall for the edges to rest against.

The edges are angled and covered with felt so that the edges hit them at around 90° and don’t destroy the edge too much. I also put some perspex in front of the chisel racks so I couldn’t accidentally shove my hand into five or six chisel edges if I wasn’t thinking and reached for a measuring tape while facing the vice or some similar whoopsie.

Now, time to load the chisels up.

(And yes, take the time to sharpen and strop each as they go in, because why not?). Bevel-edged chisels first.

Then the firmer chisels, including my new 2″ wide cast steel monster, which is very nearly a slick.

And then the four gouges (there’s room on that rack for a few more chisels yet).

And that’s that done. The racks are held in with screws and the frame they screw into is screwed and glued in place, so if I need to tweak the racks or add new chisels, that should be reasonably easy.
(Note the fretsaw and coping saw got moved on the wall and lidl were selling magnetic tool racks so I cheated and got the japanese saws all up on the wall beside the hammers – the western saws will go below them with the blades pointed down so there’s a “safe reaching zone” in the middle to stick your hand into to grab any of the saws).

And that’s almost all that now. Need to get the scrapers a new holder on the wall somewhere, the old one has gotten loose (well, it was five saw cuts in an offcut from a 2×4). And the drills all need to go up on the wall as well. I have an idea in mind for that, but where exactly on the walls it’ll go I don’t know yet.

But I also have a project I’ve been wanting to do (and gotten a little done on already) and part of me just wants to get the shed furniture bit out of the way as fast as possible and get on with that, but with all the tools in the way, that’s going to be a tad difficult 😀
Plus, having the saws and hammers literally at my fingertips has sped things up at the bench far more than I thought it would. So having the drills to hand would be worth the effort.

I just need to figure out where the hell they’re going to go, I’m running out of wall…

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…

Apr 17

Blinded by the light…

So the SI unit for “brightness” (this isn’t exact, roll with it) is the lux and you can measure it with lightmeters (or a lightmeter app on your smartphone if you live in 2017). A really dark and stormy overcast day is around 100 to 200 lux as is your typical home lighting (my kitchen table, for example, sees 140 lux as I’m sitting here). Sunrise or sunset is around 400 lux. A well lit office can be anything up to around 500 lux. Noon on a typical cloudy Irish day is around 1000 to 2000 lux.

Earlier today, I hooked up the third LED T8 in the shed (the one I fitted yesterday):

At my workbench, the lightmeter now reads 2400 lux.

It’s now brighter inside my shed than it is outside my shed at noon on most Irish days. I might possibly have gone a little far.

(BTW, the T8s cost about €30 each off ebay and claim to draw 44W each and should last for a few years. So yeah, I’d recommend them)

Apr 17


So I came across this goop watching Crimson Guitars recently (I don’t want to build guitars, I just find the woodworking part fascinating while finding the music part kinda meh).

Basically, take this plastic (which comes in little balls like styrofoam packaging), put a few tablespoons into hot water (60C/140F is where the magic happens) and it goes from hard white solid to transparent goop. Fish it out of the water with a spoon, give it a second or two to cool down so you can hold it without third-degree burns to your fingertips, and now you have something similar to mala (or plasticine or playdough or silly putty or whatever you grew up with); only when it cools down, whatever shape it’s in it sets up hard in.

When it’s back to being hard again, it’s a hard white plastic that you can saw, drill, file, tap (no idea how much load it’ll take though) or otherwise work. And when you’re done with it, put it back into hot water and it goes back to transparent goop again and you can reuse it. No idea how many cycles you’ll get from it, but I’m up to three or four so far with no sign of degradation.

So how’s it useful in the shed? Well, I use LED T8s to light the shed. Or more accurately, until last weekend I used one. Then the second one arrived last weekend and now I use two.

Thing is, when I ordered that second one, I accidentally ordered two of them. So I wanted to fit the third T8 and in between the other two is the only viable place left. But the roof has no handy single flat surface there (if I picked either of the two flats I’d get uneven light distribution and I’d go spare). So I need some blocks cut to the angle of the roof and attached so that I have a horizontal surface to mount the light to.

But I don’t know that angle, it definitely isn’t something nice like 30, 45, 60 or 90. It’ll be 57.423 degrees or whatever hastily-nailed-together-8-by-6 sheds use. So out with a few tablespoons of thermomorph, let it go transparent, cool back to translucent, and then shove a wodge of it into the roof angle (you can see it above in that picture).

And then when it cools, take it down and let it cool fully to harden fully.

And there’s your angle. Now take your saw and cut it in half so you have a flat face to present to the wood, and mark off the angles.

And now you just saw down the lines, then crosscut into two blocks, and start drilling pilot holes for screws and countersinks.

Then screw the blocks to the roof…

…and the mounting clips to the blocks…

…and then clip the T8 into the clips.

And done. No faffing about with cut-and-test-and-cut-and-test-and-plane-and-test-and-plane-too-much-and-test-and-curse-and-start-over-again.

Yeah, you could probably do this with a bevel as well, if you had a small 2-3 inch size one, but the thermomorph can get into small awkward spots a bit better than most bevels. Plus, as Ben Crowe was showing in that video above, you can replicate curves and other odd profiles just as readily as straight line angles.

And you can get different brand names as well (Multimorph, Polymorph and so on) as well as dyes in case you don’t like white, or even food grade versions of the stuff. And near-infinite shelf life too. So definitely some stuff to have handy in the shed from now on.

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