For the manner in which men live is so different from the way in which they ought to live, that he who leaves the common course for that which he ought to follow will find that it leads him to ruin rather than safety.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Working on that infill (still)

I've been going into work early to squeeze in some time on my infill during the week. I don't have a decent vise for metal work at home at the moment. I just pack up my little red tool box full of files and spend 45 minutes or so putzing away before starting work. It's a nice way to start the day. I'll have to do a separate post about the saw and files...and the cold chisel. The little things in life can be extremely satisfying, and for some reason, the cold chisel that I've been using is one of those things. Anyway, onto business..
Here's the brass sides. I did a little additional filing to help sharpen the corners a bit before marking them onto the steel sole. We'll get back to these guys for some more filing and drilling, hopefully later this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In keeping with a philosophy...

In many ways, I try to be a minimalist. In reality, I'm not. I'm getting there though. Today I sold a bunch of books, CD, and DVD's that I'm not into anymore. Someone else can enjoy them. I would have liked to get more for them, but some of that money was spent when I was in high school or college! So it's new money to me. Small house (750 sq ft), small car (a prism, seriously, I drive a Chevy Prism). On the books and movies, I pared down my total collection to the books that I really can read again, and movies that I really enjoy watching. I've been done with punk rock for a few years so that stuff is mostly gone (except for a few choice albums...some stuff just gets ya). What's this got to do with woodworking? Everything. I have some tools that I'm not using. They are being or have been sold. My collectible stuff isn't going anywhere, you'll have to pry my Baldwin planes out of my cold, dead fingers. I intend to get more of those, as a matter of fact. Maybe I took Chris Schwarz too seriously (if you haven't read The Anarchist's Tool Chest, you should...if you can't afford it...I'll loan it to you). Maybe the economy sucks and I can't get overtime. Maybe, at the tender age of early thirty something, I'm finally becoming a grown up. Maybe, I'm just a spaz case. Who knows? Or it could be that I had a crappy day, shelled out $400 to fix an aging furnace and screwed up a project to boot. Again, who knows? Anyway, every day I find that I'm trying to pare back on "things." If it ain't useful, it ain't welcome here anymore.
Now...let's see how the bright new plane I just bought fits into the this equation. Hmmm...I guess you'll find out when it arrives, it should be a treat!
I also decided it was time to read some Machiavelli, so it could get really weird around here.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Ripping is one thing, resawing is a whole other animal! You can't build everything from inch thick lumber, and buying stuff that's already brought down to a thinner section is expensive. What's a budding neanderthal to do? Steve Branam shows his technique for resawing here. I figured that would be a good place to start. I got some inch cherry and went to town.

The intended victim. It's a pretty piece of cherry, and I hope to keep it pretty!

Scrub plane

Not everyone is in to scrub planes. I am. I've read differing opinions on their use and origin. For instance, some say that they are a rather late comer to the plane game and are a bit of a cheat. Others say they are of German descent and were meant for edge preparation. I don't have the research resources to confirm or deny any opinions. All I know is that they are infinitely useful. I especially like them for preparation of very rough those found on stock coming straight off the mill saw.
Back about a year ago when this thing was new. It's a bit of a fashion statement. The wood selection was on annoy those who are more sensible. Let's just say that I'm not quite into these stark contrasts much anymore.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The joy of toolmaking

It's a very satisfying feeling when you can make and use your own tools. It's even more so when they perform well. This is my jointer, 23 1/2" long, with a 1 1/2" x 1/4" iron that I made.
Yes, the tote is ugly. And yes, I put it in a bad spot for adjusting the iron.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cutting a tenon

Instead of fiddling with tools tonight, I decided it was high time I did some actual furniture building. I've been slogging through a small coffee table. I'd build a larger one, but then I wouldn't be able to get around it in my tiny house. To build the table I need to make several mortise and tenon joints. Being a noob, this is a joint I have never completed before, well, properly anyway. My kitchen utility table has those loose tenon thingies (which I hate, and I'm angry about WHY I ended up using them, but that's a gripe for another day). I've tried practicing a few times but never had much success. But then...
Derek Cohen has a great write up about how to get through the M&T joint here. I tried to follow his method, and did pretty well. So, thanks, Derek! With some practice, I'm sure I'll have this down in no time. Below is my first shot, I've got several more to get through.

The cheek cuts marked on the end grain. I chipped it out a bit on the shooting board...I really need to consider a dedicated mitre plane. The board is 3/4" thick, so the tenon will be 1/4" thick.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Infill progress

Finally! I knew I could get my rear end kicked into gear on this thing. I got the sole squared and cut to size and pierced the mouth. I originally set out to do most of this work with a hack saw and files. Like all smart (ok...slightly better than stupid) people with access to a mill, I decided that 100% hand work was not practical. If I had a large disk or belt sander at my house, I would have used those. Anyway, I ran the sole through the bandsaw and milled the final dimensions.

The bottom of the sole. By piercing at an angle in the mill I was able to get an accurate angle for the mouth. My hope is that this will save me work later. There is a little bit of work to do by hand to square off the mouth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My infill plane (almost)

Just thinking that if I post a picture showing the pieces of the plane I started forever ago might spur me into finishing the damned thing. Looking to finish it up at 6" long with a 1 3/4" (ish) iron. That's the last piece of O-1 that I have right now, and it can yield up to a 2" iron. It's a quarter inch thick too!
Guessin' I know what my lunch time government job at work is for the next few days!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sandblasting files

I ran across an interesting article on WK Fine Tools, here. It was about using sandblasting to sharpen files. The article was originally published in 1878. I decided to give it a shot. I grabbed a few old files that didn't cut so well and gave them the treatment. I took a few swipes with each one first and then after. I could feel a little bit of a difference in each, one was markedly better. I think I'll do this again some time with a more quantitative approach, and try to take the "feel" out of the equation.

Files before blasting. Old and ugly.
Files after blasting. You can see a few bits of steel in the file second from the bottom, I didn't brush it before the picture. For now, I think the blasting worked. Later on, I'm going to try something akin to the test from the article. By akin, I mean not taking 90,000 + strokes!

Up close and personal

I love machine work. I practically lived in the machine shop when I was in high school. Then came college, then the Army. The last couple of years I've been able to get back into it with my new job. To this day, I still get giddy when I get to work within a few thousands of the vise of a mill, or the chuck of a lathe.
About .012 away from the chuck.

.010" over the top of the vise.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Popping a saw etch

Enhancing, or popping a saw etch (as I like to call it, because I make up my own terms for stuff), is a bit of an art. It's a picky little task, and I'm still learning it. With my first few saws I didn't even know that I could pop the etch out. They're all waxed up now, so I'm not about to go and strip them to work on the etch. After working on my first few saws, I ran across an article on WK Fine Tools by Bob Sturgeon, here. I wanted to give it a shot because I had a mystery saw with a "Warranted Superior" medallion and a faded etch. Obviously, the WS medallions don't tell you much. In the end, the etch was too far gone to get anything recognizable to learn the origin of the saw. Rats. Currently I've been working on my second Atkins No. 53 and the Simonds from hell. I decided to give it another go, though the etches were very weak to begin with, I was able to improve them. To have gone farther probably would have lead to their complete obliteration. (awesome, I knew I was going to be able to use "obliteration" in a sentence today)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simonds Saga (part 2)

Part one is here .

I couldn't let this saw continue to mock me. I could hear it laughing whenever I was in my shop. When your shop is only 77 square feet, it's hard to escape the taunting of a tool that's out to get you. "Now is the time!" I said. In reality, I needed an excuse to avoid sanding drywall for a bit. The drywall can wait until tomorrow.

Back into the trusty saw vise for another round. I jointed the teeth one last time, and went for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rebuilding the Suicide Grinder (part 2)

Part One is here.
Here's the basic components for the grinding "head". I think I'll call it that from now on, yes, the grinding head. So, we now have a pair of Koyo 6023ZZ bearings (the ZZ is secret bearing code for two metal shields), these are really common bearings, about $4 each. How common are they? They're so common that they are the same bearings that I use for the front wheel of my chopper. If I trust my life to them, I can trust my irons to them. They're 17mm x 40mm, by the way. Also have the new belt, a minor investment of $13. The axle has been cleaned and deburred. The nuts and side plates for the wheels have been cleaned as well, with some chemical conversion coating applied for good measure. Next step is to lay out the base plate. I could mount straight to the bench, but then it would all be too easy!
Simple enough. Just remember to put the belt on before installing the axle. Otherwise, you gotta take the whole kit and kaboodle apart again!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Panel Gauge

This is a panel gauge I picked up a while back. They are very nice to have, since a typical marking gauge is only 6". It had no pin or cutter, presumably it got lost along the way. I cut a drill bit down, and reshaped the end so I could have a cutting gauge as opposed to a pin. Using a cutter makes a mark more like a marking knife, they tend to tear less. The button on the end, just inside of the cutter makes a nice little depth stop, it limits how far you can push the cutter down.
Look closely at the shape of the cutter, the working end is facing up. Also shown is the "depth stop." I believe that the original pin or cutter was mounted in the button.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rebuilding the Suicide Grinder (part 1)

I've started the clean up process for my General grinder. First mistake has already been made, the decals didn't survive the hot water wash. They stood up to PD-680 solvent, but the water got 'em in the rinse. Damn. The housing is ready for the new bearings, and the axle just needs a small burr removed from the pulley area.
The housing, all cleaned up.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Craftsman SUCKS!

Ok. I'll calm down just a bit. I'll preface this post by saying that I've been a loyal user of Craftsman tools for most of my life. However, anything they have made over the past several years that has electrons flowing through it is junk. Let me say that again: Electron powered Craftsman tools are JUNK! You get what you pay for, and when you pay for something made in China, you get JUNK. JUNK! There, junk in all caps three times. (I could share the drama of my miter saw, but that'll just get my blood pressure up)
I guess I didn't calm down much. The only reason I bought the Craftsman 6" grinder today is because I had a gift card. Hey, I thought, it might not be the best grinder in the world, but I'm a handy guy, and I can make it sing. Well, I'm no voice coach, and this effin' thing needs a team of coaches to sing. Needless to say, it's going back tomorrow, and I want my money back. This is unacceptable. (now...on to the juicy pics...)

Taming of the skew, revisited

So, the other day I took a shot at tuning my D.Malloch skewed rebate plane (or rabbet, or whatever, I prefer rebate), here. My conclusion was that the skew of the iron was off and it needed a good regrind. However, at the moment, I don't have a grinder hooked up here at my house. This is all the more reason to get my suicide grinder put back together and mounted to a bench. Anyway, I stopped at my Dad's house today, and we have a grinder there. I get free reign of his tools because I bought some of them...they just live at his house.

I should have taken a picture of the iron before regrinding, but I forgot. Basically, I set the iron in the plane and lined it up so that it was flush with the reference side. I then scribed a line across the back of the iron to establish where the skew should be ground. After that, it was a matter of being patient at the grinder and trying not to rush it. The results...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cutting a stopped dado

I've never cut a stopped dado. This post will follow me through the first one. Seriously, I didn't even practice one first. The problem with a stopped dado lies in the fact that you're stopping the darned thing! We're also working across the grain. Through dadoes are a bit easier, and if we can figure the stopped version out, we can do through dadoes all day long. Let's see how it goes...
Marking out. This dado will be about a half inch wide, by four inches long. Final depth is a quarter inch. Marking out is similar to marking a cross cut. Lay the square down against your reference side and use a marking knife to cut the line. Several light cuts, with the bevel toward the waste (in this case the center of the dado) will get you there. Light cuts with the knife are easier to control. It helps to lightly mark the edge of the board down to the final depth...this will help with sawing. That's a Stanley SW square, dead nuts accurate and a great tool. I'll talk about that thing another day.


 I think the scraper is a misunderstood and underutilized tool.  Before I bought one, I didn't get it. You could tell me about them all day long, and I'd look at you like a deer staring down a fast moving semi. Fact is, they are great little tools. It seems to me that the mystery (or misunderstanding) of them comes from not knowing how to sharpen or use one. They are simple enough for me to figure out, that means that anyone can figure them out. Anyway, here's the quick and dirty version...maybe we can go into more detail another day.

The card scraper. A simple piece of saw steel. These come in different sizes and thickness. Thinner is easier to wield, but leaves a wavier surface. Thicker can leave a flatter surface, but can break your fingers. Try different ones to find what suits you...that's the best advice I can give.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Damn, sometimes them ole tools are sweet!

Nothing real instructive here, I just feel the need to gloat a little. A few weeks ago, I picked up a junker of a saw. An Atkins 53 to be exact. I loved the handle, the blade was a nice length and dead straight. I resharpened it to a rip profile because I wanted a short ripper. I don't have a saw bench right now, so a shorter rip saw is easier for me to use (not to mention they fit my arm length better). Anyway, I had to rip a piece of Ambrosia Maple for my coffee table. Oh! Sweet goodness! That thing cuts straight.

It's a nice feeling when a saw you sharpened and tuned performs this well. Mind you, this was not a six foot long cut through two inch rock maple, but that's still pretty darned good for a novice.