Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Space Saving Ideas - I

When you have a shop as small as mine, you start to look for creative ways to maximize the use of your floor space and your storage.

I do have a few bench top power tools that have taken up most of my storage or counter top space. The bandsaw, drill press and scroll saw are the 3 that occupy 1 counter. The lathe takes up the other. The remaining bench top tools (Planer, Mitre Saw and Spindle Sander) are stored in the space below my workbench as they are used less frequently or only for specific stages of projects (initial milling only or refining only).

However, the only tool that I don't seem to have space for is the Router Table. It's a Wolfcraft model that ends up either sitting on top of the table saw, the workbench or hanging off a wall somewhere.

I also didn't feel safe using it as the height that it sits at while on a work surface puts the workpiece at my mid chest level and either unable to see the spinning bit or having the shavings shooting towards my neck at mach 1.5. NOT FUN!

So, I trashed the legs and attached it to one of my counters with a piano hinge and added a couple of oak legs via hinge brackets so that I could fold up the legs and let it hang down out of the way when not in use.
Router table in the up position

Fench and mitre gauge ready to go!

Yay! Some floor space returned to me! Time to clean up!

The counters don't have any doors on the front, so the router just sticks into the storage space underneath.

Do you have a small shop? What sort of things do you do when you find the number of tools you have are eating up valuable real estate? Leave a comment below and let me know your woes and triumphs.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Safety Week is here again!

Although I've not participated in safety week in the past years, I've found all of the various blog posts to be good reminders that disaster can be only a stroke of the chisel away. Thanks to Marc at The Wood Whisperer for starting this annual event in an attempt to keep us safe!

Well, this year I have a tip of my own. Okay, 3 tips as one mistake led to another requiring a third.

Tip 1: Realize when you've done enough for one day

You've put in a long day or week in the shop. Does this look familiar?
If so, I recommend that you don't take that "one more cut" or "just finish this one job". Put down the tools, they eye protection and at least go take a breather. A quick walk outside, get a drink or go kiss your spouse. Whatever you choose, it will give you a chance to clear your head and return to your project or maybe realize that you are indeed too tired to carry on.

Tip 2: Your hands are not vises!

Do you have that strong man grip and are able to crush your opponent's hand in a handshake? Well, they're still not strong enough to take the place of the vise on your bench! The wood on your bench can take the impact of a chisel if it slips when paring. Your flesh will part quite readily to a sharp blade!

Tip 3: Keep a first aid kit in the shop!

From burns, to cuts, to scrapes to the unthinkable major incident. A first aid kit in the shop will


My story

Yes, I ignored both of these tips in one day. I had just finished turning a tapered cylinder for a client and had popped it off the lathe. All that was left was to pare the nib off (which was about a 1/4" diameter). I had put in a long day in the shop working on a bench and just needed to get this cylinder done as the client was picking it up in the morning. So I picked up a chisel and started paring it with the cylinder in my left hand.

At first I had choked up on the shank of the chisel so that it wouldn't go anywhere, but within a few seconds I had loosened that choke hold to hold the handle and instantly it slipped, driving right off the edge of the cylinder and into my left pointer finger at the second knuckle. A clean plunge into the bone and straight back out I pulled it. Of course it immediately started flowing crimson. Thank goodness for first aid kits!

No loss of use or disfigurement, but I should have gone to the hospital as I had unknowingly at the time severed or partially severed a nerve and the outside edge of my finger between the second and third knuckle now have no feeling. I also can no longer curl my finger all the way into my palm. There's about a 3/8" gap when I try.

So, keep your head in the game and know the signs for when it's time to hang up the apron and safety glasses for the day!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bevel Up or Down?

At Woodworking in America this year, Graham Blackburn was a last minute addition to the seminar lists as David Charlesworth was not able to attend due to pneumonia. Ouch!

Well, I had the pleasure of attending two classes on plane craft by Graham and the one thing I came away with on the second seminar was:

"If you plane is properly setup, you should be able to take it to any piece of wood in any direction and get zero tearout"

I thought, "Come on! Not possible! No way!"

He said the secret (which is really no secret, only a lesson that needs passing on to those of us learning on our own), is to:
  1. Keep the mouth of the plane open only as wide as the thickness of shaving you want to produce; and
  2. Keep your Cap Iron as close to the cutting edge as the thickness of shaving you want to take.
So, what about bevel up planes I asked. He said at the end of the class that in order to take a plane to any piece of wood in any direction with no tearout, you have to have a cap iron. I was starting to despair that my investment into bevel up Veritas planes was for naught.

Well, I decided to write it off as fanatical dogma. You know, sort of like saying that pins first is the ONLY way to get tight fitting dovetail joints (just ask Tom Iovino and his experience at the Hand Tool Olympics).

Well, when I got home, I decided to give it a try as it had been bugging me for a couple of weeks now and I finally got an opportunity to put it to the test.

I set up my bevel up smoother to take a really fine shaving and closed up the mouth as tight as possible and set out to work on a piece of curly maple. I then did the same with a bevel down smoother.

To my surprise, I was able to get a very clean surface with both planes. It may be that there may be a more gnarly wood out there that will really prove Graham's statement to be true, but I'll have to wait to find that piece of wood another time.

So, bevel up fans, do not despair. At least from a smoothing point of view anyway. I'll be testing this theory in other configurations, but that will be for another post. Thanks Graham, you've helped me grow in my skill level and although I may dispute your statement on the cap iron, it made me think and that's a trait of any great teacher.

WIA Day 2

Okay, I'm late with this post. So sue me :) Actually, please don't.

One thing I'll mention for the class setups is that after the first day taking 4x 2hour classes, at the end of the day my brain was fried! Okay, maybe it was the 1 litre beers and the mental image of Tom Iovino (and others) dancing on the benches of the Hoffbrau House the night before. I think it would be better to spread out the learning over the 3 days. But that's my style.

The returning 2010 bloggers
I actually ended up only going to 1 class and I found it hard to focus. Instead, I spent a good deal of time in the marketplace (socializing and buying stuff) and at the Hand Tool Olympics (socializing and competing). What a great time! This has been what going to WIA has been all about for me. Without WIA, you could go an entire lifetime without meeting the other personalities that you read from day to day on your reader.

So, my priorities at 2011 WIA? Meeting the other personalities, then the marketplace, then the classes.

If the subject matter held in the classes were different, I might have put them higher on the list, and that might happen again next year anyway depending on the classes offered and if I can reign in my impulse to buy stuff!

That evening was filled with friendships, good food, and lots of alcohol. I admit, I probably went a little overboard myself even and I spent the next morning sitting on the hotel patio drinking gatorade. Ouch.

So to Popular Woodworking, thanks for putting on a great show and hope to see everyone again next year!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

WIA 2011 Arrival & day 1

I'm back!

So, where have I been? Sure it's been a while, life gets that way sometimes. I'll bore you with the details another time.

But it's the end of summer and that means it's time for Popular Woodworking Magazine's annual hand-tool enthusiast's convention Woodworking in America down in Covington KY.
Graham Blackburn "Handplanes for Joinery"

I heard about this event last year too late to be able to arrange to go and negotiated a weekend pass with my family to attend this year. Sweet!

Car pooling down with Ian and Adam took about 10 hours and it was a very entertaining ride. Arriving in KY around 5 pm yesterday, we almost immediately started running into all of the other internet personalities whom I never knew I'd really ever meet. Kari Hultman, Tom Iovino, Scott Morton, Rob Bois, Wilbur Pan and Aaron Marshall just to name a few.

That evening, I found out about a challenge that had been issued to all bloggers to put their money where there blogs were and participate in the Hand Tool Olympics in team format. I found myself partneted with Wilbur and Aaron (mentioned above).

After a good night's rest (I left the bar around 11), a day filled with seminars began. I found myself taking Graham Blackburn's classes on hand planes and their uses in joinery and how and how any plane should be usable on any piece of wood in any direction. He then demonstrated using a smoother on a beautiful piece of curly maple. Simply amazing. I also took my turn at the Olympics and it was great fun. I also managed to capture Kari and Emily (one of the Olympic facilitators) on video using the frame saw to cut what looked like a 10x10 beam. I'll post that one as soon as I can :)
Wilbur Pan cutting his tenon in the Hand Tool Olympics
The evening found a few of us at the Hoffbrau house which is a German themes brewhouse pub with a live polka band. Yes, a polka band. The upside was it wasn't hard to get in the spirit with 1 *liter drafts*!
Bois and Tom chatting over 1 L beers
Lively discussion at the Hoffbrau House (Steve - Aka Torch, Aaron Marshall and Kyle)
There's a reason I'm focusing more on the people. It's the real reason WIA is so successful. Sure, the seminars and marketplace are great, but without the opportunity to meet the people you have associated with, but have never actually met is simply amazing.

Tomorrow looks to be just as fun, I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, if you are blogging about WIA, send me a link and I'll make a central post to all blogs featuring WIA posts at the end of next week. You can reach me on Twitter via dm.