Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winding Sticks

It's been quiet on my blog. Not because I haven't been doing anything, but because processing rough lumber by hand isn't so interesting. I'm hoping to get back to blogging about my brown oak Shaker side table once I can do some actual joinery.

One thing I have been missing while I'm trying to cut out some legs for the table is a pair of winding sticks. I decided I must have some for this project, so I made a pair.
My version of winding sticks.
I had some nice sticks of air dried sycamore, as well as some reddish mystery wood for inlays. It could be goncalo alves, but I'm not sure. The hope is that these two woods will contrast nicely for years to come.
Two sticks of sycamore, with center buttons installed.
For center buttons, I decided to use the quick and dirty hillbilly method inspired by Greg Merritt, which means bamboo skewers. I found some really big 4mm ones a while back and have loved using them for things like this.

I used my eggbeater drill, and after accurately marking the center point on each side of each stick, I drilled in half way from one side, flipped them and drilled the rest of the way on the other. This method worked perfectly for me. Zero tearout, and the skewers filled the holes perfectly.
Bamboo skewers to mark the center points of the winding sticks.
I could have made some dowels of the same wood I used for the inlays, but I already had the bamboo dowels. Less work won out. It's a light color similar to the sycamore, but they are clearly and easily seen. The purpose of them is to give yourself an aiming point to center them. If I am edge jointing a piece of wood and want to check for twist, I stick the winding sticks on the edge of the board. The dot makes it easier to balance them in use.

I chopped out space for the inserts with a chisel and mallet, used hide glue and clamped them in.
Clamp on the insert.
I left the rough parts to the outside, and glued the flat parts to the cavities I just made. I figured there was no need to plane them twice.
All glued together.
If you were wondering what ever happened to that raw linseed oil that I processed with sea water last year, it turned out real nice. I decided to use it on this project.
My home-made BLO.
This was a great little project, and a good opportunity to practice accuracy. They are far from perfect, but they will work until they warp too bad. Then, I can make some more!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Another Shaker Side Table - Part I - Resawing

A few months back I got a package in the mail. A fellow woodworker sent me three nice hunks of gorgeous quartersawn chocolate brown oak. I originally wanted to use it to make a staked coffee table, but this oak was too nice for a project like that.
Freshly re-sawn panel that will hopefully make an 18" x 18" panel.
The nicest piece of furniture we own that I have made is my cherry Shaker side table.
My Shaker side table in cherry that I made a couple years back.
I used an inordinate amount of lumber for that side table because I tried to choose the best parts of the wood I had in the perfect orientation for that piece. It paid off big time. The above picture looks a bit off, because the base sat a long time before I finished the top and drawer. When it was done, those parts were much lighter in color than the rest. Over time, the whole thing has darkened up nicely, and looks more beautiful every day. Unfortunately I have no picture of it in this state.

The biggest lesson I took from that build was that wasting all that lumber was no waste at all. Grain orientatioin and the thought put in to what grain goes where made all the difference.

Having these beautiful oak boards, all about 1 3/4" thick, is plenty of lumber for this table, as long as I can squeeze everything out of these parts. Since this is all gorgeous quarter sawn wood, I think that it will work.

I spent some time deciding which boards are going to yield which parts. I had briefly thought of resawing the widest piece, to get a panel about 11 inches in which I would take the center of a three piece lamination to make an 18" wide panel for the top. I eventually decided against that, because that wide piece has the straightest grain and will make the best leg stock for the table. The narrowest piece will yield two nice resawn pieces wide enough to get the 18" square top. The grain on this piece had the most pronounced curvature to the grain of the three, so I chose to mark out  and crosscut the piece where the curvature makes the least impact. I haven't decided yet if I'll glue those two boards up to be bookmatched or one next to the other. It all depends on what the final look will be like.

The apron boards and the drawer front will come from the third piece that hasn't been mentioned yet. Resawing that board will yield four nice boards for that purpose.
I've started by crosscutting one piece in order to get the length to size before resawing.
All this resawing is the purpose behind my recent purchase of the giant Dick saw. It is the Ryoba that is 300 mm long, has a much thicker sawplate and larger, more aggressive teeth. It should work well for this.

The reason I bought it is I couldn't get my Diston D-8 that I usually use for resawing in my suitcase, and I didn't want to build a framesaw for the purpose before starting this project. The saw was about 40 Euros from Dictum.
My set up for kerfing my wood before resawing.
I have been thinking a lot about a kerfing plane. I think getting a good kerf all around a piece of thick wood is a great trick for keeping everything aligned for resawing. I thought that perhaps instead of using a kerfing plane, which I didn't have, I could clamp my Dick saw an appropriate distance off of my bench and run the wood past it.
After some experimentation, I discovered kerfing with the crosscut teeth worked better.
With the blade removed from the handle and clamped firmly in place, I just pushed the wood past the blade until there was a kerf around 1/4" deep or so all around the piece.
Pull the wood past the clamped blade.

It seems to work really well!
Once that was done (and I think with some practice it could be done freehand), it just took some creativity to clamp the piece to my sawbenches (my only work bench surface) in order to saw away.
Deepening the groove on the end grain.

Deepening the groove on the long grain.
With the kerf cut, it is just a matter of sinking the saw in the kerf and connecting the lines. Yes, it sucked, but it was much quicker than waiting until I befriended someone in town with an appropriate bandsaw setup.
The giant Dick saw actually seems to cut fairly efficiently.
Once I started making progress, I wedged the cut parts open with my shop knife.
For scale, the wood is a bit over nine inches wide.
I thought I might have to spend a couple days resawing this wide piece, but it was actually finished in a relatively short time. This was the hardest cut of the whole project, so it will be downhill from here.
All the way through!
As you can see from the first picture in this post, the cut turned out exceptionally well, in my opinion. I think this was the smoothest resaw cut of a wide board I have ever done. The thicker plate on this saw did a nice job of keeping the cut straight. No humps or crazy saw marks!
That's enough work for me for today.
I clamped the pieces up just in case the inside of the board was a different moisture content than the outside. If it is, it could cup as it dries. However, I'm not too worried as I think the wood has been well dried, and it is quartersawn, which should resist cupping.

Over all, I would have to give this giant Dick saw a positive review. It might not be my first choice for resawing a nine inch wide board, but in my circumstances it worked perfectly. I recommend it if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Next up, resawing the aprons and ripping the legs!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas Goodies

I don't know about you, but I had a great Christmas. My in-laws gave as a gift some money in order for me to buy something for myself. I went to Dictum yesterday before flying home to Spain and bought a giant Dick saw, and a marking gauge.  Thanks Josef and Luise!
My new giant Dick saw.
As you can see in the photo below, this one is a lot bigger than my regular Dick saw. The old one's blade is 240 mm long, and the new one is 300 mm. Plus, the teeth are a lot bigger and the blade a lot heavier. This saw is intended more for rough work, I think. I bought it because I have some resawing that needs doing, and this saw fit easily in my suitcase.
Regular Dick saw vs. Giant Dick saw.
I haven't had a chance to use it yet, so keep an eye out for an upcoming post on whether or not this saw does what I intend. So far I have one major gripe: the blade now has the Dick logo rather than the word. What's this world coming to?
The old saw had this engraved on the blade.

Now it is only the Dick logo.
As I said, I also got a new marking gauge. It wasn't expensive, and I have some gauges similar to this new one from Veritas.
New gauge from Veritas.
This will be my first gauge with a micro-adjuster on it. So far, I haven't seen the need for such a thing. Those of you who have used them before, what are your thoughts regarding a micro-adjuster on a marking gauge? My guess is it will be a bit fiddly and much slower. But, since I haven't used it yet, a proper workout and write up will be forthcoming.
The mechanism seems robust at first glance. Time will tell.
I have another gauge shaped nearly the same, and i really like it. The head is much bigger than the original gauge, and it is off center, keeping it from rolling too far when I set it down.
The beam is mounted off-center.
I have no idea how long this gauge has been on the market, this was the first time I've seen it anywhere.

What tools did you get for Christmas? Send me a photo and I'll post it here.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dad's Rocking Horse

While I was in Nevada I got to see this old rocking horse at my sister's place.
This one was built for my nephew, who now himself is a grown adult. My sister keeps it as a memento of his childhood, and as a keepsake of something my dad made.
I can't say for sure, but I think this project was the one that sparked my interest in woodworking. I remember helping my dad build a few of these when I was a young teenager.
Dad's method was to use the parts of a disassembled one as a pattern. He would cut it out of 1x6s or 1x8s with a jig saw, and use lots of sandpaper and Elmer's wood glue.

In fact, I think he built another group of these recently, one for his great-grandson.
I think it probably was painted with exterior house paint, and the details were painted on by my mom.
Looking at it now, with a bit more knowledge of how wood works in a project like this, I am impressed with the simplicity of the design. Likely the horse is attached to the rockers with screws, and the rockers themselves were just traced onto a board and cut out. I found a repair on one of the rockers - the rocker had split and cracked along the grain, and someone had glued it back in place and reinforced it with dowels. A nice repair.
Maybe someday I will build my own version of this rocking horse. It looks like a fun project. If anyone else would like to build it for their own family's use, I would love to see a picture.
Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Six Board Chest On the Go - Part III - Nick of Time

I love to visit my family in the States. This trip to my sister's would have been a lot less stressful had I not decided to build this project while I was there. In the end, the last day or two of this project turned out to be really fun, and the chest was completed!
Completed chest.
I think it would be very simple to build this chest at home with my regular tools and workholding. Even in my shop in Spain, where my olny bench option is a pair of sawhorses. In fact, I might try to build one there just to see.

For this project, the hardest part was the planning. I had to plan on what the minimum amount of tools required would be for this chest. That required deciding on every part of the build ahead of time so I would have the tools I needed.

One design choice I made was to forget about any kind of molding that would require anything I couldn't do with my one plane. I chose to use simple chamfers everywhere.
Here I am planing a chamfer.
This half-wall served well as a joinery bench. Light planing, such as for a chamfer was easy up here. It also made a fine saw bench for my Dick saw. I was able to fairly easily clean up these rips with my plane, but without a shooting board I decided to just be very careful and saw exactly to my line with the crosscuts. I think I only planed the endgrain on one crosscut. The rest was used right off the saw.

My sawing set-up.
I assumed that there would be some kind of electric drill for me to use. My sister had this one.
The drill was needed for pilot holes for the nails.
It did, however, take me two days to find the charger for it. It wasn't long before it ran out of juice. Luckily, my tapered drill bit had a hex shank on it which allowed me to make tapered pilot holes with a screwdriver handle.
Screwdriver handle from IKEA.


I had planned to make rabbets as per Christopher Schwarz's instructions in the Anarchist's Design Book, but decided making them with a saw and a chisel might extend this project into the too-long-to-complete-it-before-I-leave category. Roman nails hold plenty well for this project, so I just had to be careful in lining everything up before driving them home. No rabbets were harmed in the construction of this chest.

The first few days involved working in fits and starts. Basically all that was completed in this time was the boards (except the lid) were cut to length and smoothed with the plane (not flattened).

Two days before I left I felt like I was finally able to start building this chest, and it really started coming together in a hurry.
Progress after the first real day of work.
I'm sure if Dad hadn't been well, I would have abandoned this project and not spent the time on it. But, I've decided out of all the woodworkers in the world, I have the most fun woodworking with my dad.
I had Dad sign it too, since I wouldn't have finished it without him.
I took a big risk signing it before it was completely finished.
Besides using only chamfers for decoration, I used a star pattern for the cut outs on the end to create the feet. This requires no turning saw. With a bit of care a Dick saw can leave a surface good enough for this without much clean up. The plastic $.75 carpenter's square was the perfect tool to lay this pattern out.

Dad was really proud of this chest. He was surprised that it could be knocked together so fast with no glue. He had never before seen Roman nails.
Dad with my nearly finished chest.
Dad was especially excited about the clenched nails. He had never heard of this before. He loved that this technique would attach the cross-battens to the lid, flatten the lid, make it strong, look good, and be so easy to do.
A good view of the clenched nails in the lid. Here I am laying out the butt hinges for installation.
All in all, the chest turned out pretty well. I think had I done it at home, I would have done things much differently and it would have taken a lot longer.
Almost done.
Dad really liked the look of the cedar chest without paint. I did, too, but since I had bought some milk paint already, I figured I should use it.

All in all, I have to say the chest looks good both ways. There are lots of big panels on this chest to show off the wood grain, and when there is paint on it the actual design of the box becomes much more prevalent.

I only had time to put  two coats of milk paint on before I had to go. I buffed it out with brown packing paper, and installed the hinges. I left my sister instructions that she could leave it the way it is, paint it over with a second color of milk paint, and/or coat it with some boiled linseed oil. (Deb, if you do this, slather it on with a brush, then after 15 minutes or so, wipe off all the excess and rub it down with a clean rag. Make sure NOT to use a finish on the interior.)
Done.

Back side.

I like the surprise of opening the box and seeing (and smelling) all of the nice cedar panels.
Right after I finished the box, I took the pictures, packed my suitcase and got about four hours of sleep before I had to get up to get on the plane for Spain. I cut things awfully close.

In all honesty, I would have liked to spend a little more time on this project to make it a bit fancier, but overall I am happy with it. It was able to be finished in time, and the overall impression of the piece really isn't too far off of what the fancy version would look like. The most important part is my sister liked it.

At least she said she did. Deb, you are allowed to do whatever you like with this box, whether it be keeping linens at the end of your bed, or garden tools in the shed. I just hope it makes you smile and remember my visit when you open it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Six Board Chest On the Go - Part II - Workholding and Tool Prep

I'm back from my trip to Nevada. To the naysayers, I say that no one is more surprised than me that this chest is done. Perhaps a little more explanation of the build and the tools I used is in order.
My tools for this build, minus the drill that I borrowed.
Traveling from Europe to the US is not ideal for bringing along a full tool kit. I explained in the last post that I chose to build a six board chest on the road due to the ease in which this project can be built using a tiny tool kit.

The picture above shows almost everything that I used: a carpenter's speed square ($.75 at Lowe's), some sand paper (I wound up also getting some 220 grit and some 600 grit), a marking gauge, an aftermarket iron and chip breaker (which I wound up not using) for the plane, a 5/8" Kobalt chisel (about $10 at Lowe's), my trusty Dick saw, a tapered drill bit, my leather strop, a hefty ball-peen hammer that I picked up by chance at an estate sale in Nevada for $2, and a Sargent #414, the equivalent of a #5. The plane was about $50 including shipping from a guy on Facebook.

Also pictured are the nails and hinges I used (one example of each).

The only other tools I can think of that were used was my sister's Black and Decker cordless drill, a drill bit from her kit, and a screwdriver handle of hers that must have come from IKEA.

Oh, I almost forgot, I used her yoga mat, too.
20 feet of cedar.

The wood I encountered at Lowe's and Home Depot wasn't the greatest I've ever seen, but they both had selections that were a hundred times better than anything you can find at a home center in Europe. There were even two different grades of 1x12s that would have worked, in a pinch. The problem was the construction grade stuff I found wasn't so great, and the nice stuff was very expensive.

I wanted to go to a proper lumberyard, but I was able to find what I needed at a Meeks hardware and lumber store. I'm told this company is local to the area, and they seemed to market more to the professional contractor rather than the DIYer. At Meeks I was able to find a white cedar 1x12 that was 20 feet long, nearly free of defects, and surfaced on one side.

It sounded perfect, but I had never worked with cedar before, so I crossed my fingers and bought it. I was able to crosscut it to lengths that would fit in my sister's Toyota Camry (two 4 foot lengths and two 6 foot lenths) on the panel saw they had.

My biggest challenge by far was the deadline. The chest had to be completed with finish before I left. Theoretically, it should have been easy, as I had no fixed plans during the ten days I was there. I do have two sisters that live there, and my parents and another sister came down from Montana for a little celebrating since I don't get back to the states often.

Soon after I bought the lumber, my dad had a medical emergency and spent three days in the hospital. This completely changed the nature of my visit. I can't tell you how much I wanted to abandon this project. I'm sure if I had, no one would have blamed me.

Fortunately, my dad was discharged and it looks like he will make a full recovery. Once the stress of this emergency was out of the picture, building furniture was a great diversion. Dad even helped!
Sharpening the chisel with sandpaper.
The first task on hand was to get all of the new tools set up to work right. The new chisel needed sharpening. I have to say, I didn't expect much out of this Chinese chisel, but it really wasn't in too bad of shape. It took only a little effort to lap the back, and a few swipes on the bevel with 400 grit and my leather strop got it to 90% of what I want out of a chisel. Plenty good for this project.
Sargent 414
Next up was the Sargent 414. The seller said it looked bad in the pictures, but was mostly just dirty and one side had some paint overspray on it. He assured me it would make a fine user.

Indeed, it only took 20 minutes to clean up. I chose not to lap anything, just to use it after removing the grime. I was impressed that about 98% of the original Japanning was there. It was probably protected by all the dirt.

The problem I found with it was after cleaning, I discovered that the lever cap for this was incorrect, and the business end of the lever cap hung out over the top of the hump on the cap iron. It couldn't be used like this, because every shaving I take is likely to get jammed in that exact spot.

The seller was great and tracked down a new lever cap for me and shipped it out as soon as possible, which unfortunately arrived the day after I left.
You can see the lever cap sticking out over the blade in this pic.

A beautifully crafted plane. I've always liked Sargents.
I was stuck with a boat anchor that meant I couldn't start on my project without a replacement. Unfortunately Nevada isn't flush with tools like this at every garage sale or antique market, and I despaired that I wouldn't be able to start this project.

Jonas from Mulesaw came to the rescue. I explained my problem to him during one of our many chats, and he suggested using a washer on the screw so I could back the lever cap up a bit so the business end was in the correct place. I went back to Meeks, and spent $.23 on a steel washer that worked perfectly. It just meant that every time I wanted to remove the blade, I had to unscrew the whole thing.
$.23 put this plane back to work thanks to Jonas.
Now for workholding. My sister had a garage and a porch, but nothing resembling a bench or a well equipped workshop.

No problem.
A yoga mat and a plastic cutting board butted up against a concrete step did the trick.
The yoga mat worked a treat. It protected the underside of my board, and gripped a little to keep it from sliding around.

I wound up not flattening the boards that I used. I smoothed them with the plane, and left the cup in. My dad helped a bit here, as it was difficult to plane the inside of the concave side because the blade couldn't reach down to the bottom of the cup. My dad stood on various parts of the board to push it flat while I smoothed. It worked perfectly. However, planing on the ground sucks the big one.

There was also a half-wall made of cinder blocks next to my sister's shed that worked great as a joinery bench and a saw bench. It was perfectly suited to use with the Japanese Dick saw.
Dad helped here by holding things stable while I worked. He turned out to be a pretty good meat clamp.
Now that I've figured out how to do what I need to do, I'm ready to get some work done. Next up, let's build this thing!

If you haven't seen the first post in this series, check it out here.