Monday, December 28, 2015

Orion’s Belt

What did astronomers find behind Orion’s Belt?

A big waist of space.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My First Christmas Present

I know a lot of woodworkers make their Christmas gifts, but I have never had the time. But this year, I decided to make time to make a present for my Mom. She loves to play cribbage, and I remember the two of us playing for hours when I was young (she even let me win a few).
A cribbage board is a pretty simple project—just a board with a bunch of holes drilled in it, and a well to store the pegs.  I made my own template out of hardboard for the holes. The key was to drill the holes in the template with a countersink bit. Then use a self-centering bit to drill the project board. The self-centering bit pulls the work into the exactly the right spot, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting each hole lined up perfectly. I even put a bit of wax on the drill press table so everything could easily slide into place.
On this board I added a simple inlay. Since I put the inlay on by bench leg, and found out how easy it is, I’ve been looking for any excuse to use it. I’ve been carving the relief by hand, but I’m starting to consider getting a plunge base for my rotary tool.
Anyway, here’s the completed project.
IMG_0303 IMG_0305
IMG_0306 IMG_0311

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Time for some Dad Jokes

I have always had a special fondness for jokes.  Not the witty, intellectual kind.  The best joke make some people laugh, and some people groan.  Recently, these kind of jokes have been called “Dad Jokes’' and I can think of no better way to describe them.
So it’s time to start a new section on my blog for these very special things.  Here’s the first one, courtesy of my youngest son.

A man and his wife are walking down the street in soviet Russia when it begins to precipitate. The man declares, "I do believe it's raining!" His wife replies, “It's December, I'm sure its snow."  The man then says, "well lets ask an officer, they're always right." They agree, and the man approaches an officer across the street and asks, "Officer Rudolph, is it raining or snowing?" The officer replies, "Rain, of course!" The mans turns to his wife and triumphantly announces, "See? Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What’s on the Bench?

My bench is in place, waiting for a few final touches, but otherwise ready to go to work.  This is what’s on my bench today:
It’s that time of year when everything seems to be happening at once: vacation, getting ready for college, catching up on maintenance projects around the house--and a summer cold. So, there’s a lot going on in the shop, but none of it is woodworking.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Bench is Ready for Work

Well, almost. But, the base and top are assembled, and I've flattened the top. I have removed my old bench, and the new one is sitting in its place, ready to go to work. I still have to make the faces for the vise (and install it), and install the shelf on the bottom, but I'll be using the new bench for that work. I'll also finish it with a couple of coats of Danish oil.

I'll also need to drill holes for the hold fast and bench dogs, but I think I'll wait on the dog holes to see where I really need them. I drilled quite a few in my old bench, but only used three or four regularly.

155 Days | 175 Hours

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Drawboring the Top

With everything already fitted, I drilled the holes for the pegs through the mortises,then drilled the offset holes in the tenons. Then, just set the base
back on the top, drive the pegs, and trim them flush. This was probably the easiest part of the whole build, especially with Shannon's help.

147 Days | 162 Hours 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mortising the Top

With the base assembled, I set it on the top to lay out the locations for the mortises. Like the mortises in the legs,I drilled out most of the waste, then cleaned up the sides with a chisel. I used my router plane to finish the bottoms, which made quick work of it.

After the mortises were fitted, I cut the groove for the sliding deadman.  I don't have a plunge router, so I had to cut it by hand. I was afraid of getting too eager with the chisel with such a thin (5/8") wall, so I used my rip cut carcase saw to define the sides, then removed the waste with my router plane. Since there was nowhere for the sawdust to go from the cut, I could only cut about 1/8" deep with the saw. And to avoid splintering, I could only take about 3/32" with the router plane. It took a bit of time to cut 1 inch deep, but worked pretty well.

141 Days | 158 Hours

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Assembling the Base

After a once-over on the legs and stretchers with a card scraper, the base is put together.  This is the first time I've used draw-bore joinery, and it is great!  Once everything is set up, it goes together beautifully--no clamps, no worries. The only difficulty I had was connecting the two end assemblies together with the long stretchers. More (long and heavy) parts than I had hands.  But even that went smoothly, thanks to Shannon's help.

126 Days | 155 Hours

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Leg Details

After finishing all the leg mortises and fitting the tenons, there was one more detail for the legs.  I decided to put an inlay on the front leg, with a design that's become kind of a "thing" in our house.  This is the first inlay I've done, so I took the time to make a couple of practice pieces before tackling the workbench leg.  I'll make a post soon on how that went, and the lessons I learned along the way.

The practice runs paid off, and the inlay on the leg turned out very well.

120 Days | 126 Hours

Friday, June 5, 2015

Finishing the Legs

Here's a little more detail on cutting the big mortises in the legs. First, I laid out each mortise with a wheel gauge and my small try square. The only measuring was setting the distance from the floor.  All the other dimensions were taken directly from the tenons.  After marking 5" from the bottom of the leg, I set the wheel gauge to the depth of the tenon, then transferred that to the leg to set the distance from the front of the leg.  I then laid the tenon across the leg, lining up the bottom with the mark I made earlier. I then marked the top of the tenon with a marking knife. I didn't bother marking the width of the mortise--that will be taken care of by the width of the forstner bit used to remove the waste.
At the drill press, I first bore a hole using a 1-1/4" forstner bit at each end of the mortise. Once the ends were defined, I connected them by boring holes about 1/8" apart along the length. The more holes you cut, the less cleanup is needed.

After boring out the mortise, I used a chisel and mallet to square the corners, then fitted each tenon and made the small adjustments for a good fit.

118 Days | 116 Hours

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

3D Tic-Tac-Toe Game

My son asked me to make this game for him.  He provided the design.  It’s a fun game, but he usually beats me.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Workbench Update

I’ve really made a lot of progress on the workbench.  This weekend, I finished the four stretchers and began cutting the big mortises for them in the legs.  I had to improvise a “table” for my bench top drill press to accommodate the long, heavy legs, but once I got everything set up, it went smoothly.  I’m hogging out the mortises with a 1-1/4” Forstner bit, then squaring the corners by hand.  I’ve used a couple of different types of Forstner bits, but for this project I bought a saw-tooth bit from Lee Valley.  WOW--what a difference it makes.  It cuts fast and clean, clears chips well and doesn’t bog down.  Should have all the mortises done in no time.

98 Days | 104 Hours

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sand Paper Storage

A couple of years ago I put together this sandpaper storage bin. Three shelf widths to organize full sheets, half or quarter sheets, and sanding belts and blocks.
I used some scrap MDF, which I wouldn’t use again for something like this. The fibers in the dadoes grab the shelves, making it very hard to slide them in and out. But, at least I don’t have a stack of sandpaper falling all over my bench.
Sand Paper Storage

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Paper Crafting Workstation

I built this crafting station for my wife Shannon a couple of years ago.  Customized dimensions to fit her paper crafting supplies (and her).  It’s a simple case construction, made from melamine laminated MDF purchased from the home center, and assembled with knock-down hardware, with dowels for alignment and a little extra stability.  One new thing for me on this project was edge lamination.  I used the pre-glued edge banding, and just put it against the edges and ironed it on--don’t tell Shannon I used the iron form the laundry room Smile

Done with the Legs

The workbench is moving pretty fast now.  This week I finished building all four legs.  After the glue up, they needed a little tweaking to flatten the glue joints.  I don’t have a jointer, and didn’t want to spend the time just now making a planer sled.  Instead, I used some blue tape and thin cardboard strips to shim one side of each leg.

A few passes through the planer with the shimmed side down.
Then I removed the shims and planed the other side until the leg was flat and square all around.  A few minutes tweaking the tenons, then cut them all to final length.

84 Days | 83 Hours

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Workbench Base

It’s been a little while since I posted an update on the workbench build, but I have been making steady progress in the shop.  The top is glued up (the ends still need trimmed, but I’ll wait until it’s on the base since I don’t have a big enough surface to hold it steady).  I’m very happy with the top.  Finished size is just over 3 inches thick, 27 inches deep, and 72 inches long.  I would have preferred a longer bench, but I am limited by the space I have in the garage.
Now, on to the base.  The next task is to make the legs.  Each leg is laminated from four boards.  I’m following the same process as I did for the top lamination, but the legs are much quicker since they are less than half the length.  Following Christopher Schwarz’s recommendation in his Workbenches book, I made the tenons on the top of the legs by using spacers during the glue up.  The third leg is in clamps right now, and the fourth will be glued up today.

77 Days | 74 Hours

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Workbench Top is Almost Finished

Last weekend I planed the four sections of the top to final thickness, thanks to help from my son.  I would have had a tough time feeding those 40 pound sections through the planer without his help.  By our count, we put each piece through 18 - 20 times.
After jointing the adjoining edges, I have one half of the table glued up.
32 Days | 50 Hours

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Milling by Hand

I’m not an expert on milling by hand, but here’s the process I developed while making the top for my workbench.
I use a small set of tools for this operation:
  • Jack plane
  • Block plane
  • Straightedge
  • 4” try square
  • Winding sticks
Before stickering the lumber to dry, I had cut and ripped everything to rough size, so each of the boards had one edge relatively to straight.  I have a bench top planer, but no jointer.  To make the most of the planer, I joint one edge by hand, and joint and square one face by hand, then finish up with the electric planer.
I start by jointing that edge, checking progress with a long straight edge.  When it’s close to flat and smooth, I make sure it’s square with a 4” try square.  This square is quickly becoming one of my most-used tools.  I picked up a pair of Crown beech try squares for about $20 on sale a few months ago, and it’s turned out to be one of my better tool purchases.  I had been using an engineering square.  It’s a good size, but a bit heavy.  The beech wood square is the perfect size and weight.
After the edge is jointed, I check for any bow, and put the high middle up on the bench.  Having both ends on the bench provides stability, and it’s easier to work one area than two.  After checking where the highest spot is with the straight edge, I start working that area, working out toward each end.  Check progress frequently with the straightedge.
When the face is nearly flat, I check for twist with a pair of winding sticks.  Checking for twist a little before the board is flat can save working the same area twice.  I make sure the face at one end is square to the jointed edge, then put the first winding stick on that end.  I put reference marks down the face about 12 inches apart and check for twist at each mark, using my try square to square up the sticks. I use a tick-mark system--the more ticks, the more plane strokes the area needs.  I plane down each area, then check with the winding sticks again.
Removing the twist usually takes out the rest of the bow.  I make one final check with the straightedge, and make any final adjustments.
I then run the board through the planer with the flattened face down.  I plane down the rough face until the planer takes a full cut along the length and width, then one more light pass.  I then make a couple of light passes on the other face to remove any tool marks from the jack plane.
Finally, I repeat that process on the board’s edges.
Using this process I milled about 85 board feet in about 35 hours.  It would be nice to have a jointer, but for now, this works just fine.  I’m not in a big hurry to get to the end--that’s not why I like working wood :-)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Workbench Build

This weekend, I finished gluing up the fourth and final slab for the top.  I have to say, it took less time than I thought it would.  I have about 36 hours into the project so far, and one month on the calendar.

I’m able to mill by hand now much better than when I started.  It’s one thing to read how to do something, but there’s no better teacher than experience.  I was able to read the cup and twist, and straighten it out, on the last board in about half the time (and double the certainty) as the first board.  I still have a lot of milling to do after the top is glued up, and hopefully it will go a lot quicker, since most of the parts for the base are much shorter.

22 Days | 38 Hours

Monday, February 16, 2015

Workbench Build Continues

This afternoon I finished gluing up the third slab for the top. Only one more slab of five boards, which I should be able to finish next weekend. Then, I should be able to plane each section and glue up the whole top.

9 Days | 18 Hours

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Workbench Build

Hooray! Hooray! Today’s the day! The workbench build started today!
I started milling and gluing boards for the top. I have a bench top planer, but not a jointer, so I’m using a hand plane to joint one edge and get one face flat--at
least flat enough to send through the planer.This is the first time I’ve done any serious milling my hand, so it is was  a learning experience.
It was a little slow going at first, but I had it down by the third board.

Then, glue and clamps overnight.

1 Day | 6 Hours

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Artist Easel

I finished the easels this afternoon.  This was a project of firsts.  It was the first weekend project that I actually finished in a weekend.  Even better, it was the first project that my wife and I built together.  The easels were rather simple to put together, but getting the angle at the top was a learning experience.  They are unfinished, by the customer’s request.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Artist Easel

I was asked by my wife to build a couple of quick, simple easels that she can use to display sample boards during her scrapbooking classes.  I figure a couple of 2x4s ripped down the middle will provide adequate 1x1 parts.  I made a quick model in SketchUp to get the angles and dimensions, and I’ll head to the home center for lumber.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Workbench Build

My first workbench was a steel frame bench with chipboard top and shelves.  It fit perfectly in the tiny shed I had to work out of, and worked well for small projects, like my boys’ pinewood derby cars.  I still use it for storing tools.

My second (and current bench) is a repurposed desk.  A big improvement over the tool bench, it is a knock-down piece with a large surface.  I’ve made some improvements, like adding a front vise and drilling dog holes.

But after three or four years, the top is now sagging enough to be a problem. So, after looking at a bunch of workbench designs, and reading Workbenches by Christopher Schwarz, I decided on a Roubo design.

My choice of materials is severely limited--there are only a couple of very small hardwood dealers in the area, and I just wasn’t going to spend the $$ to ship that much lumber from an online dealer.  So, southern yellow pine from the home center.  I had planned on buying the lumber and cutting it to rough size, then letting it dry out in the garage for three or four weeks.  I had planned on starting the build in April.  Last April.  But, life happened, and the wood is still stacked in the garage drying.

Of course, that means my wife’s car can’t get in the garage, which makes her rather unhappy.  But, hopefully I will be able to start the build next month.  I’ll keep you posted.