Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seatbelts for the planes - Situation normal.

  My current project was to make new shop furniture to hold my sharpening station, and some lumber and the like.  Seemed straight-forward enough.
  I started to get to thinking that adjusting the mortise gauge to match the mortise chisel I was using was just getting to be too much of a burden, and it occurred to me that if I made a whole mob of mortise gauges purpose-set for my mortise chisels then I wouldn't have that problem again!  Huzzah!   
  So I started cutting up oak and maple scraps to make the gauges.
  That's when I started to really feel the 'rust' in my skill-set, so I decided I would really focus on doing the pieces up properly 'four-square'.  No problem.
  That's when I realized that I do not, in point of fact, have a panel gauge which is a requirement for doing things Properly Four Square when they're more than about 4" wide.
  Now the current project is a panel gauge.
  I have cut the pieces, and cleaned them up 'four-square'.  I finished that yesterday.  Today is the day planned to start shaping the stock of the panel gauge.
  This brings me to my plane till.
  I made this plane till about 5 years ago, and my planes have sat on it without complaint for all that time, and never has even one plane even hinted at a desire to leap off of the till.
  'Til yesterday.
  I used to have my bench against the wall.  It wasn't possible for me to bump against the planes on the till because the bench was in the way.   Now the bench is in the middle of the room and I pass close by the till all the time.
  I knocked my Veritas bevel-up smoother off of the till yesterday, at which point it plummeted down to the (and it makes my marrow quake to admit this) ceramic tile floor below.  It was neither a proud nor a pleasing moment.  I spoke sternly to myself and told me to give the till a wider berth so that it wouldn't happen again.  Apparently I am no better at listening than my wife claims, because I did it again this morning.  To the very same plane.

  My current project changed again, and it became 'harnesses' to keep the planes from plummeting in case I bump them again.
  I have always avoided this method of securing planes in the past, because it requires extra thought and generally an extra limb to extricate the plane from the till.  Today, however, it was a necessity to protect the planes regardless of the damage to my delicate sensibilities.
  A half hour spent spelunking for my old camping gear produced some para-cord, which doesn't look right, but which works fine.
  The job is done, the planes are safe, and I can get back to working on the panel gauge.  I'll come up with a proper way to restrain the planes when I have more time to think.



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Something to remember when planing flexible stock

When planing flexible stock (like a 1x1) the face you're planing will be greatly affected by the face of the material that's on the bench.  If the bottom face has a hollow in it, you're going to have a bulge in the side you're planing.  After planing off the same bulge four times in a row I finally clued in.  Either shim up the bottom so that you can't cause it to flex when you press on it, or, if it's short enough, pinch it in the vise so that it's supported all the way along.
A big board isn't flexible enough to have a problem with this, but it was certainly a problem for me this morning, and it had me baffled for a good half an hour.


A Note on Ripping

 Ripping boards to width should not be a task that makes terribly great demands on the skill of the sawyer.
 Famous last words, eh?
 Ripping requires more brawn than brain, in general, but a point was driven home for me last evening that I'd like to pass on.
 I've seen several videos where people mention how much they prefer to rip smaller pieces of stock vertically in the vise rather than horizontally on the horses.  I can understand this from an ergonomic perspective.  Totally.  There is, however, a potential problem.  The potential problem is caused by the angle of attack.  Look at the image below:
Here we see my rip saw buried in a piece of cribbing (the hardwood 4x4s of uncertain parentage that are used on big flat-bed trucks to keep ugly pieces of material being shipped from tearing up the deck of the truck).  The saw is horizontal.  I can merrily saw away in this position, but the saw will go in whatever direction the saw is going.  With the saw perpendicular to the work, controlling the saw - changing its direction - is very, very difficult.  To change the direction of the saw I would need to tip the handle down until the saw meets the work at about a 45 degree angle.  This means that to get the angle you need to control the saw when sawing in the vise you need to have the work sticking out far enough that it's liable to chatter.  Either that or you'll be on your knees doing the sawing.   I got lucky on this particular cut and it was dead-nuts from the beginning, so I just kept the saw horizontal and it followed the line like I was paying it money to do so.   That was the first of two rips.  I cut that 4x4 down to make a 4x3 and a 1x4, then I cut a 1x1 out of the 1x4, and on that cut I screwed up the line twice (both ends).  I had to take the board out of the vise and cut it on the sawhorses where I could angle the saw down to a 45 degree angle relative to the work, at which point controlling the saw was easy.  I got it back to the line, sawed a few more inches to establish the direction, then I put the board back in the vise and it was smooth sailing from there.
 Something to remember - with a well-tuned saw that cuts straight, using it perpendicular to the workpiece is 'cruise control' - it just stays on the line it's on.  Angling it down allows you to change the direction.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Greetings, Gentle Readers

  It has been... a while, since my last post.  It is rather remarkable what all has transpired since then.  I got hitched, we had twin girls, who are now 4 years old, and for most of that time I did zero woodworking.  The tools just sat on the shelf.
  I am now in the process of a bit (!) of a resurgence.  I'm trying to get down to the shop semi-regularly, and I'm in the process of reacquainting myself with basic skills.  I am embarrassed by how much I have lost.. things that I used to do without a great deal of thought now require a moment to ponder before I get going.  The manual skills are definitely rusty.
  The even-more-embarrassing thing is how much skill I suspect I never had in the first place.  I think my standards weren't as high back then.

  I made painted pine shelves for the girls to have over their beds to hold their 'stuff'.  The girls helped.  It was agony.  :)   Their idea of helping is to try to pick up each shaving as I create it, and sweeping sawdust off of the bench and onto my slippers with every stroke of the saw.   And they want to use tools.  I need to have 'beater' tools that they can play with without making me crazy.  They have destroyed the Crappy Crown Gent's Saw almost beyond repair, and their 'kind attentions' to my workbench have required much deep breathing, but I've survived it so far, and there are rewarding moments in there.  I'm sure I still have a couple of Stanley #4's in the Closet of Unloved Tools, so I'll have to get them whipped into shape.   The girls have a much easier time with highly cambered blades - much less resistance.  I thought the girls would like wee little squirrel-tail planes, but I was wrong.  They love the scrub plane with a very light cut.  It's effortless to push, but makes a nice shaving for them to look at and show off.

I hope to keep this blog updated regularly now, and I'll be sure to get some pictures up.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crazy busy

I've got a new job which is mostly field-work, meaning I am away from home a lot. Right now I'm not too terribly far away, so I'm home at least one day per week, but the rest of the time I'm in a hotel far away. This is radically affecting my productive free time. I spend my time at home trying to catch up on house-work.
I was going to do blog entries on all of the DIY stuff I was doing, but I kept either forgetting the camera, or not wanting to have the camera out when I was up to my armpits in thinset or brick mortar, so that never materialized. It may yet happen when I'm doing stuff on my own house. Maybe.
I have a project in mind for a small kitchen island, but so far all I've been able to do is design it. I haven't been able to start on anything 'real' yet. My shop is a wreck because I had to figure out what tools I needed for this new job, and stuff got dumped everywhere while I tried to figure out what portion of my ton-plus of metalworking tools I needed to have with me.
It's very frustrating doing a job while knowing that you have the perfect tool for the job and it's at home, hours away from you.

Anyway, that's pretty much what's going on with me these days. Hopefully I can get back into the blogging, but right now I'm a lost cause.