Friday, November 23, 2012

Dictum's New Store


Dictum opened a new retail store in Munich, and it is fantastic!  Check out these photos:

Nice assortment of Lie Nielsen, Veritas, and DICK planes.

For the power tool junkies, you can see in the above picture that Dictum carries the blue professional line of Bosch tools, Festool and Mafel brands.  Dictum is the only store in Munich that carries all three.

Large assortment of fancy knives and knife-making supplies.

The Wall-O-Saws... and chisels... and carving tools.
They have a very nice selection of Japanese saws.  I don't belong to a western or Japanese school of thought, so I don't mind using any of these tools.  One of the best saws for woodworkers starting out, in my humble opinion, is the DICK Ryoba saw.  This one saw will keep you busy a long time, and for less than 30 Euros.  Even though I have some great western saws, I still reach for this saw every once in a while.  Dictum also has a nice selection of Lie-Nielsen backsaws here for you to try out.

More axes than one could ever use.
 DICK now has a sweet looking froe.  A big one.

Sensory Overload.

Any tool store that sells Soap-on-a-Rope is tops in my book.
To the utter dismay of The Frau, I find this store well stocked and laid out.  It is super convenient, as the kurs.werkstatt (a woodworking shop that teaches classes and rents time in their shop) is right across the hall.  I have been to this shop a few times.  It is perfect for me, as with my small, machine-less shop it is great to be able to go somewhere to resaw on a nice bandsaw and thickness plane wood for a large project.  As a bonus, it is right next to the Ostbahnof, which is only a ten minute bus-ride from my house.  If I drive, I can park in the parking garage right next to the entrance.

Although it has always been possible to use Dictum's website, and they have a marvelous catalog, there is nothing quite like being able to go to a retail store to handle, and indeed test out tools before you buy.  One could always do this in their store in Metten, but that one is a bit out of the way.  Munich should prove to be a much bigger market, and far more convenient for travelers to visit.  With the workshop right across the hall, this is set up to be an awesome place to travel to to take a class.  If you do, let me know and we'll grab a beer!

I think my hobby just got a lot more expensive!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chest Finished! (Maybe)

I constructed this chest in about three hours.  You may see photos of the construction in my last post.  But basically, I had used the plans provided by Christopher Schwarz on the Lost Art Press Blog. Only to fit in with his "Furniture of Necessity" theme, I chose to do this as economically as possible, purchasing everything from the home center:  I used laminated wood (the kind that comes wrapped in plastic), cheap hinges, and I picked up the longest brad nails I could find for under two bucks.

Since the build in the last post, I added molding, which I made the choice of purchasing in one meter lenghts.  A thin one for the lid, and a matching thicker one for the bottom.  Making my own molding with molding planes would have been cool, but I thought I would do it this way, in order to minimize the tool kit required for this build.

The Frau wasn't crazy about this furniture form in the fist place, and she really didn't like the look of the nails.  But, I thought this would be fun to construct, and it was.  Surprisingly, I think it is growing on her.  She made the suggestion that i use it for a bedside table until I get the chance to make a proper one (far down on the list of needed projects).

The room and the bed it goes next to are grey, so she suggested white, black, or grey for the color.  That is a good idea, but I thought a brighter color might be really neat for this chest, and since this won't be it's permanent home, I chose to try a few things first.

I wanted to use milk paint, and had only Dreary-Army-Green and Holy-Shit!-Red available in stuff I already had.  I thought I would try to add a little of the dark green to the red for a nice burgundy color, but wound up with a Jonas Jensen purple.

I suppose that's fine for the undercoat.  I found a local store that sells milk paint, and bought some Federal Blue, and some black.  The blue looked like such a neat color, that I am seriously thinking of keeping it this way.

 Milk paint has to be one of the more pleasant finishes to work with.  The Frau hasn't seen it yet, so we'll see if she wants it to stay blue.  If not, the blue will become another undercoat for the black.  After it gets knocked around a bit, the blue will start to show, and knock it around a bit more and the purple will come out.

 I deviated in the construction a little by moving the battens to the inside, rather exposed as in the original plan.  This may not be traditional, but the piece I had left over for the lid wasn't long enough.  I think this looks OK with the applied molding on the outside of the lid.

This molding came from the home center in one meter strips, made of pine.  The two different widths of molding in the same pattern is a nice touch, I think.

Here is the chest in it's new home.  Perhaps having the blue sheets on the bed will increase the chances of this chest remaining blue.

OK, I didn't get a photo of the tool kit for this project, but here is a list:

  • Hand saw (a Japanese Ryoba is a nice choice, as you can do all the ripping and crosscutting with it using no other saws, if you don't have any).
  • Chisel for cleaning out the dado.
  • hammer
  • Jack plane for cleaning up the hand-sawn surfaces.  I didn't even smooth anything, but I did use a little sandpaper.
Really, that's all you need to build a chest like this.  I didn't even use any clamps.  If you would like to make things a bit easier, you (like I did) can use the following tools in addition.

  • Backsaw - handy for that dado
  • Bowsaw or coping saw to make the rounded cut-out
  • Router plane - also handy for the dado
  • Small anvil - mine is an eight pounder, for clinching the nails.

Milk paint leaves a nice finish on it's own, but I think it might be a bit flat for this purpose.  Once we settle on the color, I will top it off with some wax, or perhaps some boiled linseed oil.  Probably both.

What is your opinion of this color for my chest?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It was Necessary, So I Built It

I was called in to work today on my day off.  While driving, I was thinking about the chest Christopher Schwarz discussed in a recent post on his blog.  It so happens that I was stuck in traffic for about an hour.  I called my boss, and she said I wasn't needed anymore afterall, so I might as well turn around.

This is where my idea for the nailed chest took some form.

CS said that this style of furniture is driven by what materials were immediately available to the builder.  Stuff that was readily available and easy to work.

To me, I thought that the perfect material for a modern interpretation would be the laminated boards you can get at the big box store.

I stopped by an OBI to see what they had.  Usually they have laminated spruce, pine, beech and sometimes oak or acacia.  I wanted spruce because it is usually the cheapest.  Maybe pine, because it is so much nicer to work.

Looking at the rack, there was a surprise.  They had boards of laminated wood in what they called paulownia.  I had never heard of it, but the grain was even, no knots, and it was relatively cheap.  Perfect.

I bought a couple boards two meters long and 30 cm. wide.  I didn't know what the lid was going to be, so I bought an 80x40 cm board for that, just in case (turns out I didn't use it).

This wood is interesting in that it is extremely light.  I think spruce is about twice as heavy as this stuff.  It should work just fine for this project.

I think using this material fits perfect with the intent of this project.  This should be something that looks nice, yet is a quick and dirty build.  That is exactly what it was.

I downloaded CS's sketchup plan, as he describes in his blog.  I was a bit worried I didn't have enough wood, as he uses a 12 foot board and a 10 foot board.  I had two boards just over six feet each.

So, what I did was make a smaller chest.  I have a big blanket chest, and the only reason I wanted to build this one is that it looked fun.  I'm sure I'll find something that it is necessary for later.

I took a few photos of the process, and came to this level of completion in about three hours.  That is including plenty of going back to the plans to see what to do next.

A couple of points about this wood:

The disappointing thing was that when I took the plastic off, I couldn't believe that there were several knots and areas of tearout where putty was applied to cover up the damage.  I really didn't look that close through the plastic, but I had no need to suspect this.  I tried to keep these areas to the inside of the chest as much as possible.

The great thing about this wood is how easy it is to work.  My rip saw flew through it like it was Styrofoam.  The long rips weren't anything like work.

I didn't really measure anything while building this, but my guess is the final dimensions are 50 cm high, about 75 cm wide, and a foot or so deep.

All I have left to do is a little moulding, if I feel like it, and some milk paint.

I have some thoughts about the joinery.  I think the reason for the rabbets (actually filetsters) is two-fold:  First, it makes the chest extremely strong, even though I only nailed the fronts and the backs.  The rabbets provide structural integrity to the sides.  Second, the rabbets made it easy to line up the carcase to nail together.  I couldn't quite figure out how to clamp it together so I could start pounding nails in it, but it turned out I didn't have to.  I just lined up one side, tacked a wire nail in, lined the other side up and drove in the rest of the nails.  No measuring, no having to square things up (the bottom does that for you when you slide it home).

One design difference I implemented from the plan was I put battens on the inside of the lid, rather than on the outside.  Probably because the leftover wood I had was a bit too short for that, and I thought I could return the 80x40 piece.

When  I showed it to my wife, she said, "Perfect! You need a bedside table."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

Sharpening is getting a bit easier. At least while I am practicing on my 5 point rip saw.

I had another resawing task today, and after the last time I knew that any efforts spent sharpening the saw would not go unrewarded.

The last time I sharpened, I just took the ripsaw that has been rolling around in my shop for a couple years and honed the teeth with a file. 

It dawned on me that this saw may never have been set since these teeth were cut.

I remedied that today using tips I remembered from Ron Herman's video about saw sharpening.  I only set the teeth in the center of the saw, leaving about a quarter of the teeth unset at the front and the back.  That's all Ron says you really need.  He also said not to go too crazy clamping down with the saw set.  Had I not seen his video, I would have pressed very hard indeed, because the difference between a set and an unset tooth is not easily visible.

What a difference it makes in performance!  Granted, this was a piece of soft pine about 3" by 9", but the saw sailed through it.  My previous resawing endeavor resulted in the saw pushing very difficult in the middle of the board when it was in danger of binding. 

Not this time, the extra set increased the kerf just enough to make the saw push easy the whole way through.  Perhaps this is a side benefit of only setting half of the teeth, fewer opportunities to screw up.

Here is a view of the piece right off the saw.

Shortly before I tried the saw out on this pine piece, I tested it on scrap to make sure it would track straight.  It did with no adjustment to the set.  I was concerned that my left-handed setting would have been different than my right-handed.  I realized that if one presses firm and evenly, it is easy to ensure that the pressure is the same on every tooth regardless from which side you impart set.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disobeying Christopher Schwarz: Changing the Saw Rack - VIDEO

Here is the problem I had with my tool chest:  Once I had the first till constructed, I noticed there was not much room to reach into the bottom compartment to get to tools stored there.  I have a screw arm fillister plane that would not go in without removing the till. 

Not ideal.

My moulding planes would not drop straight in or lift straight out.  To get them in or out, I had to first lay them sideways so I could twist them around a bit.  Not too big a deal while I still only have a few moulders, but I plan on making more.  If my chest has a full compliment, I will not be able to get them in or out without removing the bottom till.

Definitely not ideal.

The moulding plane problem I could live with for a while.  Although the first problem I mentioned really is a pain.  I either have to get the plane in the chest and probably never bother to take it out again when I need it, or, keep the screw arm fillister out of the chest perhaps to get dirty, damaged, or lost when I need it.

After all, the rule is, if it doesn't fit in the chest, then you don't need it.  Right?  I think that means I must figure out how to get this gorgeous tool in the chest.

What did Chris do with his chest?  Honestly, I don't know.  My saw till is exactly 4 5/8" from the front of the chest to the side of the divider.  The Till is exactly 9" deep.  Both dimensions are right out of "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" book.

Perhaps my chest is overall not as deep, or perhaps it is because the stock for my dividers is too wide.  Honestly, I only need another 1/2" for my moulding planes to go in and out easily.

My first reaction was to adjust the till.  It looks great now, and will hold a lot.  But, if it was only 8 1/2" deep, the moulders would fit perfect.  I used hide glue, so technically I can take the till apart, saw off one set of tails, recut them and glue the till back together.

But, then I started to look at the saw rack.  There is plenty of room between the saws.  I could cut a new saw rack, with slots closer together.  If the divider in front was closer to the front wall, the bottom till would have more room to travel, opening more space for the moulders to go in and out.  This would have the benefit of holding the same number of saws, leaving that nice big tray, and give me more real estate in the bottom compartment for more planes and stuff down there.

I'll go with option 'B.'

I could have just made it 1/2" narrower, but I decided to see how narrow I could make the saw till while still allowing it to hold four saws.  The new saw rack wound up at 2 11/16" wide.  The divider now gets to move almost two inches closer toward the front wall.

I decided the saws didn't need so much space under them in the chest, so I lowered the rack a few inches.  I thought this might give me more room for a chisel rack someday.  Instead of 12" tall, the new is only 9", and the kerfs go down to only one inch above the bottom of the chest.

For some reason, I took only two photos of the process, and this is the only surviving pic.  The rest is video.

I first planed the stock nice and square(ish), and sized it to the 2 11/16" wide.  I left it in one piece, just over 18" long.

With my #24 brace bit, I drilled a hole directly in the center, cut it in half and cut the kerfs with my rip saw.

You can see the results in the video.  It first shows the saws loaded in the original configuration, along with the restricted till movement.  The middle clip shows the new saw rack installed, and the gained room in the chest.  Lastly, you get to see me removing and re-inserting all the saws in the rack. 

My appologies for the quality of the video editing.  I am trying out a new open source video editing program called Kino, and haven't quite got the knack of it yet.  It seems to be missing a few functions that I'm used to.  Or, perhaps I just haven't figured it out yet.  Anyone know of a different video editor that works well in Linux?

Overall, I am happy with the upgrade.  The saws are not quite as easy to get in and out, but the advantage in access to the lower compartments more than makes up for it in my opinion.

I'll have to use it for a while to give you my full opinion. 

If I don't like it, I can always change it again.