Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rambling Quickie #6

There's plenty going on in the shop this week. With the Stanley 80 Scraper, it's on a bit of a holding pattern until I can figure out what to do with the blade. It's not going to be possible to get it pit free, but I was able to get a hooked edge onto it. The only problem is that it's either no burr at all or one that seems so severe that it only grabs at the roughest of woods. Although it may be a setup problem as well. I need to look further into that one. The rust is almost completely gone though with a little naval jelly in the screw holes taking care of that.

The rascal was giving me such a hard time with setup that the name Finn came across in whispers as it glided across the face of an almost finished board without taking so much as a dusty shaving. Those of you that are fans of Huckleberry Finn will know what I'm talking about.

There's also the Hand Tool School which was launched a couple of weeks ago by Shannon of  The Renaissance Woodworker and I've completed the first 2 practice exercises. Winding Sticks and Hand Saw practice.

The winding sticks were fairly easy as I had been practicing my hand plane techniques after watching the Hand Plane Basics video (reviewed previously) a few times. I also used fairly tame grained wood (cherry with walnut and ash for inlay), so I went easy on myself. The inlay exercise using only a chisel was interesting, but I don't have a plow plane, so I couldn't have cheated anyway without enslaving a few electrons.

The hand sawing I did today, was just practice exercises. 10 cross cuts, 10 rip cuts and 1 resaw cut. At the end of it my arm was dead! But I did learn to cut to a line a little better, but more practice is required. I think the hand tool deities would be pleased. Although, I think I would lose about 1/8" if I were to hand plane my resaw cuts to flat and parallel.

The next project is due to be a Saw Bench, and I'm looking forward to completing that one as the recycling bin is just not very strong or suitable as a saw bench. It will actually be useful even in my power tool projects because when I rough dimension all of my lumber, I will cross cut my boards either by hand or use a jigsaw depending on my mood. I'll save my next sawing practice session for after the saw bench is complete so that I can have a non flexible surface to rest on.

Finally, I picked up a new blade for the band saw and reviewed the Band Saw setup video on The Wood Whisperer site (actually, it was still in my iTunes) and gave it a test by resawing a 5" wide piece of walnut that I've been saving to make my first box with.

There's actually one more project I'm working on, but I'll blog about it later ... say ... after Christmas!

Shannon's not the only one with Woodworking A.D.D!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Old Tool and a New Feeling

A couple of days ago I was trolling the tools section of Craig's List as I tend to do every couple of days and came across a listing for a Stanley #80 cabinet scraper. Having enrolled in Hand Tool School under Shannon's tutelage (AKA The Renaissance Woodworker), and having read Chris Scwarz's blog on these particular scrapers, I decided to buy it for $30.

Today I picked it up. I was expecting it to not be in the greatest of shape. My expectations were met.

The japanning is quite flaky, there's quite a bit of visible rust and one of the screws was not turning by the force of my fingers.

When I got it home, I disassembled it and wiped down what looked like rusty oil trapped between the blade and the clamping bar. A thorough inspection of each of the components revealed a tired (as Dyami of The Penultimate Woodshop put it after posting this pic on Twitter) and frankly not well cared for implement of wood working.

The sole was almost completely covered with rust and pitting; The blade was likewise in rusty shape, but not as bad due to the hardening maybe. I was able to make out a stamping on the blade and to my delight, the blade is Canadian made.

The clamping bar was pretty clear, but I was unable to find the patent numbers to determine the estimated manufactured time.

What really worries me however is the rust within the threaded holes. I'm not sure how to clean them up. If any of you have any ideas, please let me know. I'll also be trolling the forums for advice as well.

After giving everything a wipe down, I proceeded to take my Dremel with wire wheel to deal with the any loose flakes of rust. It also proved to be quite efficient at cleaning up the threads on the 3 thumb screws.

Laying out a piece of glass, I looked at the body of this tired old scraper and wondered. What stories could you tell? How were you held? How many hands have you passed through? The scraper remained silent. Almost as if in a sullen despair saying, "Don't waste your time on me. I've been given up on and I've given up."

I started with 120 grit to start flattening the sole and realized that the pits were not going to go away that easily. "See?" it whispered, "I'm not worth the effort."

Undaunted, I removed the sheet of abrasive and replaced it with 80 grit. A squirt of oil, I went back to patiently working the sole back and forth. Taking my time so as to ensure that even pressure was maintained. Checking my progress, I found that the pits were gone! I began working my way up through the grits - 120, 180, 240, 320, 400, 600 and 800. Oiling each sheet before starting and wiping off the sole between each grit. Maintaining the slow deliberate pace of strokes across the abrasive.

It was at about this time that I almost felt a quiver. As if the scraper was slowly realizing that it had found a caring home once more and would be put once again into the service for which it was designed. Finishing with 1000 and 2500 grits, it (and I) was satisfied that the sole was sufficiently flattened.

A touch of paste wax for protection elicited a secure sigh of relief for the protection from further rust.

At this point, I had been working for about 2 hours and was quite satisfied that I was making good progress. I carefully laid the parts into a neat arrangement on my workbench and had to break for the evening as I was getting hungry and wanted/needed time with my wife and daughter. 

My tools have never spoken to me in the past. They always seemed content to do the task for which they were designed. Now I have this scraper that almost seems to be begging to get named. I exchanged some twitter messages with Brian. His tools have spoken to him for some time and you can read about it on his blog Extremely Average. So I asked if tools communicated over distances to which he replied that they did and that the scraper is deserving to be named.

I have to say that I am honoured to begin this restoration process (and hope that eventually I return it to its former glory) and am at a bit of a humbled loss on what name to bestow upon it.

Brian, if you're reading, ask your clan of tools (particularly Guy, Wayne, Mario and Maurice as they may be distant relatives) if there is already a name attached or if they know of him.

Tomorrow afternoon I tackle the blade. I hope it's salvageable. Oh, if anyone knows how to look up the patent numbers on the clamping bar, please let me know as I would like to know how far back this scraper's history goes.

P.S. I forgot to link to Brian's Blog. Although it is on the right side, it's still a faux pas that I've now corrected! Sorry Brian!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meeting a couple of fellow guildies

Wood working as a hobby is usually a hobby spent for the most part in solitary. Well, this past Saturday I had the pleasure of being invited over to Ian's (AKAWoodcanuck) shop and meeting Ian and his friend Adam. Adam and Ian are also members of The Wood Whisperer Guild.

Adam and Ian
There was much oo-ing and ah-ing over items that Ian brought back from Woodworking in America and discussion around ongoing/past projects, shop setup and WIA in general. I had a wonderful time poking around Ian's shop and just generally talking about woodworking. Yes, that in itself counts as woodworking because stuff related to woodworking was learned :-).

Got some ideas on shop organization, but also realize that Ian's shop evolved to this state over time. It's not something that happens overnight.

Thanks again for the invite Ian!

Author's note 10-19-2010: Ian has his own blog as well. Be sure to give him a visit at WoodCanuck's Blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review - Handplane Basics DVD

As a woodworker learning on my own, I have to rely on a number of resources to get information. The internet is my primary source of information. However, there are times when the number of techniques and differences of opinions is simply to varied from forum to forum and even within the forum itself (or other online sources) to be of any use. It's not because there are wrong techniques. It's more what people have found work for them.

One area that I've found this to be the case is on hand planes. Which ones to use, sharpening techniques, methods of use. I had been stuck in analysis paralysis for a while until a Popular Woodworking email came to my inbox. It wasn't the weekly email, it was an ad for their store. As a recent subscriber, I thought I would take a look instead of just deleting it. One of the items on display was Woodworking Magazine's "Handplane Basics - A better way to use bench planes".

I thought, "Why not?" After all, Chris Schwarz is not only a great woodworker, he's known for his ability to communicate ideas. Check out his entries in one of Popular Woodworking's blogs if you haven't already. If you have, you know what I mean.

Oh so shiny!
 So I broke out the plastic and placed my order. Within 2 weeks, I had it sitting on my desk. I popped it into my DVD drive and sat back with a bowl of popcorn.

That was a couple of months ago. Since then, I've probably watched it about a half dozen times. The content is really outstanding. Chris takes the time to acknowledge that there are many right ways, but this is an instructional video for someone who has really limited experience (like me) with hand planes.

The content is broken down into 3 basic sections. Hand planes and their anatomy, setting up planes for use (including sharpening) and basic use in preparing lumber from rough stock to ready for finish without the use of a card scraper or sandpaper.

One thing that put me off somewhat at first was the fact that Chris demonstrated on pine. In my experience so far, I thought he made it look deceptively easy. After all, it's a lot harder to push a plane through ash or mahogany. Isn't it?

Well, after putting my planes through the paces (with a properly learned sharpening technique that I won't get into - that's another topic for which the techniques and tools are endless!) I have to say that with a properly sharpened plane blade, the wood will cooperate far more easily than with one that doesn't have a finely honed edge. So I retract my disappointment.

Another thing that put me off in the beginning was the fact that he talked only about bevel down planes. Being a bevel up owner (for my smoother) I was disappointed until I found out that there is an article on the dvd that you can read on your computer that point out the differences between the bevel up and bevel down. How you use them is essentially the same otherwise. Again, I retract my disappointment.

Although I'm not getting paid for writing this by either Popular Woodworking Magazine or the Schwarz himself, I have to say that this was a worthwhile purchase and recommend it to anyone that is starting out on hand planes but doesn't have a hand tool mentor to lean on.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bookshelf a la Matt Part 2 - Finished!

Today I completed the assembly of the bookshelf. It's been quite a month since my last post on the bookshelf and I won't bore you with the details of my non-woodworking adventures. Let's say that there was some good and some not-so-good. C'est la vie.

Most of what you're reading about occurred over 4 weeks, so I'll ask your pardon if I gloss over some details. If there's anything you'd like to hear more detail on, please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll elaborate in a future post.

My next step was to route the stopped dados for the bottom and middle shelf. I set up an edge guide for my router by gluing a 2x2 to a piece of 1/4" plywood followed by a pass with the router to create a clean edge exactly the right distance from the 2x2. Because I was using a 3/8" bit, I had no worries about starting to wander away from the edge guide. For a 3/4" dado, there was plenty of wiggle room. Once again, yours truly forgot his camera, so no pictures of the process. I set the 2 sides beside each other back to back so that I could cut the entire dado and be in perfect alignment on both sides. Except that on the bottom piece, I routed all the way through to the front. So much for the stopped dado.

I did get it right on the middle and that was the critical one as I planned on having the shelf stop about a 1/2" shy of the front which is a bit of a design change from my sketchup pic in Part 1.

Milling Completed

Cutting the rabbets
A few days later, I took the boards that would make up the ship-lap back and cut them to their appropriate width of 4". From there, I used a 3/8" rabbet bit with my home made router table (which I had almost thrown out, but decided to wait - incidentally, it works great being clamped down to my workbench) to cut rabbets on opposing faces.
All cuts completed
Finally, I used a chamfer bit to add a bit of softness to the corners so that the gaps between the boards would look more natural. I guess in the summer when the boards swell, the gaps may close, but in the winter, it gets dreadfully dry around here and I expect that the gaps may widen to about 1/16". Or so says my Woodshop Widget app. Dialing in the router to cut the rabbets exactly .25" deep was fun. I don't have a router lift, so I would make a test cut, check, adjust, repeat and after about a dozen attempts, I deemed it close enough. The chamfers were much easier to set up. Not bad for 1 nights work.

Knot stabilization

The next time I got out to the shop, I routed the rabbet around the inside of the sides, top and bottom - again on the router table - it's just easier than trying to balance the router on a 3/4" thick edge. I found that using green tape on the top side of the board to mark where to stop and start cuts on the side pieces invaluable. The rest of my time was spent sanding everything to 180 grit and I ended my day in the shop by doing some knot stabilization using epoxy. This is part of the joy of working with off-cuts from the lumber yard, but I think that knots give the wood some character and the grain some life. Sure it's a pain to hand plane, but I think the end result is worth it. Just mask off the areas around where you need to apply the epoxy (and tape the bottom of the knot if it goes all the way through) and apply. I had to go over some of the areas twice as the epoxy had settled into the deep recesses of the knot and left a hole in the surface. The first application sealed the knot however and it didn't happen a second time.

A few days later, I assembled the outer shell of the bookshelf using epoxy as my glue of choice. I would have used wood glue, but I had to use bricks as my downward pressure on the assembly because I had only 2 pipe clamps that were long enough. Well, I would have used the wood glue on the dovetail joint in the top because dados all have end grain at leas on 1 of the mating surfaces throughout the joint. Because of the weight that the shelf would have to hold, I decided that epoxy was just a better choice.
All that was left was applying finish, inserting the middle shelf and attaching the back. It was the Home Stretch!

Nice figure! Applying sealing coat
 The boards were all of varying shades and just putting a coat of shellac on it just wouldn't do. I didn't want to just cover it up, I wanted the grain to remain visible. So taking a method I picked up from Charles Neil during the last guild build, I applied a single coat of shellac cut to 1 lb and then followed up with either 1 or 2 (depending on the piece that was having the stain applied to it) coats of water based stain wiping off after 3-5 minutes of sitting with the stain on. Finally, I applied 2 coats of the same 1 lb cut of shellac (The Woodshop Widget rides again!). I of course sanded with 600 grit after every coat of finish except the last where I used 800 grit.

Today I attached the middle shelf again using epoxy before I started my regular day job and let it set over the course of the day. This evening, I fastened the ship-lap backing using my pass-lode cordless nailer using my pull saw's blade (the back edge) as a spacer (I would hazard a guess at 3/64" thickness). I then brought it in, and introduced my daughter to it.

I can't say for sure, but she seemed pleased and that is all a father can ask for.

It's more than enough.


Waste Not, A session in Resawing ... by Hand

It's been a couple of weeks since I started my bookshelf project. Life sometimes has a way of interfering with the shop. So while life is returning to normal, and I expect to finish that project soon, here's a post about my attempt at hand resawing from late in the summer.

I've always wanted to try my hand at box making, but resawing lumber is not something to snicker at and I've always been of the mind that one would need a proper band saw to do it. It's hard to get rough lumber at the dimensions needed to make those delicate but delicious looking boxes.

I do have a bandsaw which is woefully underpowered and I swear I traumatized it the last time I used it trying to resaw some pine.

I really hate to run 4/4 stock through the planer until it reaches that 1/2 or 3/8 thickness (thin min thickness my planer manual recommends not exceeding). It's just such a waste of material. Also, you can't get that 4 corner match without resawing.

One evening not long ago, I decided to try to do it by hand. I have a 9 TPI panel saw - yes, I know it's not the optimum saw for the job - the best I had at the moment.

I had an 18" piece of 5/4 maple with mineral deposits that I thought would be perfect for my first attempt. So I set it up in my vise on an angle after scribing all the way around with a marking gauge and a pencil.

Taking the saw I carefully started my cut. I would cut part way, then flip it around, cut some more and then flip it end for end and repeat the first 2 cuts. Back and forth several times, I got quite the workout and in the end, I had 2 half inch boards. More or less. While I did manage to stay on the line with this method, I took a 1/4" off in some places and less in others. In other words a very rough cut. I know there are better tools out there, but the local Borg doesn't carry them.

If you have any thoughts on what might make this a better experience until I can afford a better bandsaw, please feel free to leave me a comment!