Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ICBMs Launched, Part I

If one learns from one's mistakes, I learned a giant lesson on what not to do on eBay.

Now what?
A couple years ago, I got an egg beater drill that I thought was just great.  So great, in fact, that perhaps I should see about getting a hand-cranked drill press. I think what I really wanted was a post drill, but there is no way one of those will fit in my shop.  The next best idea was one of these table-mounted thingies.

In retrospect, it really was a good idea. Next step -- eBay!

Bad idea.

I found three likely candidates, and not knowing anything about them, thought it would be neat to have one.  So I bid a low price on all of them hoping I might get lucky with one.

Here's where I learned something important:  Never do that.

I won all three auctions.  They all showed up, and I wondered what I was going to do with them.  Then, upon closer inspection, I realized none of the three were complete.  Two of them were missing the beds, and one had a bed that was broken.

So I did what any other pack-rat tool collecting wannabe would do:  I put them in a box, stored them and forgot about them.

Then, the other day I read a post by the Alaska Woodworker.  He actually wanted one of these things, and lamented in his post that someone beat him to one that he found for sale.  In his defense, the one he wanted was complete, and probably worked perfectly.

To make a long story short, I contacted him, and he agreed to take them off of my hands.  It was nice to see them in the mail going to someone who might be able to get them running and perhaps used.

When these Inter Continental Boring Machines arrive at their destination, I am hoping the Alaska Woodworker will post Part II of this series, documenting either his rehabilitation of these magnificent tools, or his drive to the dump to dispose of junk sent to him from half a world away.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Productive Procrastination

I have not been able to spend any time woodworking for the last month or so. The last real project I did was the bowsaw class I took with Christopher Schwarz.

This isn't the way I like things to go. I get cranky if I don't get my shop time.

Plus, projects are starting to pile up. I have a dinner table to get working on, and my Shaker side table came to a screeching halt and has stayed there.

The good news, is today was the first of two days that I get to spend in the shop. A perfect time to get in gear and finish this side table. I have made a pledge that no matter what, this table will get finished in these two days.

As is my habit of getting some work going forward on this project, I ignored it and started something new. I decided to make a couple of bench hooks.

Yesterday I found Roy Underhill in a Lie Nielsen YouTube video, where he demonstrates building a pair of bench hooks. Do yourself a favor and watch this video right now if you haven't seen it yet. Roy also demonstrates construction of these bench hooks on his PBS show.

I followed his instructions and had good results.  What's more, this is a project that can be done with my Beginner's Tool Kit.  There really is only a few tools needed to make this project.

The finished product.

Rough stock sized correctly and six squared.

Kerfs to aid in chopping out the waste.

Chopping out the waste.

Cleaning things up with a chisel ...

... and a plane.

Finished bench hooks in use.
My Beginner's Tool Kit contains only a few tools.  A jack plane, a pair of chisels, a Ryoba saw, and something to keep everything sharp.  These bench hooks can very easily be made with these tools.

I did use a couple others on this project.  First, a card scraper makes getting the face of the bench hook to look good easy. Without it, there is an ugly transition where the plane can't reach near the hook.

Of course, I used Trevor the Mallet to bash out the waste.  It worked great.  I made that mallet with the BTK, so I think it's OK.  If you don't have a mallet, I'm sure you'll find something in your shop laying around that will work, such as a heavy piece of scrap.

Lastly, I used a rasp for the round over on the second hook.  The first I did with my chisel, as Roy does, but I rightly thought I could finish it easier and faster with a nice hand-stitched rasp.

My AAR for this project:
  • Roy is hilarious. I especially liked his secret to flawless woodwork.
  • Oak splits like crazy, and one should be mindful of the grain when laying this project out.
  • This is a great project that takes only a couple hours from roughstock to finished product.
  • One of the bench hooks was from a piece of wood that had a crack. I finished the piece, and then glued the crack shut. I probably should have done it the other way around.
  • While one should strive for two bench hooks whose dimensions are exactly the same, there is a point where returns do not justify the time and effort spent.  Mine are close, and will hold a piece of stock any size stable. That is all these are supposed to do.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to get something done on the side table.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Idea for a Collapsible Trestle

The other day I was trying to describe to my friend Jonas from Mulesaw an idea for a table. He said a local club asked him to build some tables for their house. Since he is in Denmark, I suggested he should call them Viking tables. I don't think these are really called that, but if you make them, you can call them whatever you want. Right?

Later that week The Frau and I went on a hike up to the Schachenhaus.  Lo and behold, there were some old, handmade versions of this exact table I was thinking of up there.

They look good in this setting

This one has two pine boards for a top.

Fairly straghtforward joinery with lap joints and wedged through tenons.

A neat touch is the sliding dovetail.  You can also see removable pins holding the top to the legs.
It looks like they go together and come apart to store flat.  Sitting at them was comfortable, and they are stable.  Plus, as you can see, they last a long time under hard use.

Here's a couple more pictures from our hike:

Even with the mist it was a beautiful day.


Crazy King Ludwig's hunting lodge.

Alpine gentian (Enzian) in the botanical garden.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Panel Gauge

I recently acquired a couple of old tools from eBay.

New stash.
So I went a bit nutso (thanks for the term, Ralph). Sue me.

I'll get to more of these treasures in future posts, but one particular gem from this batch is one of the panel gauges. I couldn't see the pattern on the auction listing, I just thought it was a nice size.

It turns out, it has some style.

I am not sure of the species of the arm, but the head seems to be beech, and it has a boxwood wedge. There is also a boxwood insert on the cutting edge. Unfortunately, when the original cutter wore down, some yahoo drove a nail through the arm which caused a small split.

I think it looks very cool! It seems also to be comfortable in the hand, too. Plus, it will be easy to make. I think I'll make one at some point when my list of things that need to be built dwindles down some.

In case any of you would like to give it a whack first, here is a scan. The arm on this one is a bit over an inch wide, and is rounded on both the top and bottom, requiring the oval mortise seen in the scan.

Send a photo if you make one, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Celebrity Deathmatch! Toolerable: 0 - The Frau: 1

You'll never guess what kept me out of the shop today.

I was busy building furniture.  Or, more accurately,  a furniture-shaped object.

SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) has been bugging me for years for a new shoe cabinet.  We have been thinking about a design, it is just that shoe cabinets over here in Germany tend not to be the most convenient things to put shoes in.

Our old shoe cabinet we got at some discout store somewhere.  For as big and ugly as it was, it didn't really hold that many shoes.

I have been meaning to make one, essentially in the style of a bookcase with some doors.  Except for shoes.

I think knocking it together with some nails would be just fine.

The problem is I have about 25 different things on my list of things to make that are in front of this project (most of which I'm not too excited about).

The Frau wants a new shoe cabinet, NOW!

She picked out a couple from a catalog, and I begrudgingly picked one out with her.  It was delivered yesterday, so today I took it out of the box.

Some assembly required.
I hate this stuff, but at the moment it is necessary.  I would really love to have a household full of beautiful furniture that I built myself, that will last forever, but we just aren't quite there yet.

My big problem with this stuff is that it is designed to last about two years before it totally gives up.  That's fine for an apartment dweller who moves every once in a while.  I like the idea of more permanent stuff.

And I also thought this was a laugh:

Doesn't this make you feel happy and green?
I could build a cabinet out of endangered rosewood that would last forever and have a lower environmental impact than this cabinet.  This particle board is supposed to be thrown out after two years when it dies.  A decent piece of furniture from my bench should last generations.

Anyway, here is the final product, it should make The Frau happy.

It will probably motivate me to make a proper shoe cabinet.

Monday, July 1, 2013

15 Minute Project

I know, I know.  I usually post about the projects I do with hand tools from my tiny shop.

Well, I needed a split nut driver for some saw handles.  There are a couple commercial ones out there - Lie Nielsen and Gramercy come to mind - but I didn't want to wait for shipping and my local Dictum store doesn't carry one.

So, I decided to make one.  I saw on the internet that someone else had made one from an old 1/2" spade bit.  It turned out beautiful, and didn't look too hard.

So, on my way home from work the other night, I stopped in the Army woodshop on my post and came up with this in the 15 minutes I had available to me.

My 15 minute wonder.
How did I make this in 15 minutes with hand tools, you ask?

I didn't.

I ground the tip off of a 12mm spade bit with an electric grinder, shaped the tip on the small belt sander attached to said grinder (until it fit the split nut that I had), ground the notch with a dremel tool, chopped a bit of scrap maple to length with the electric chop saw, drilled the hole in the handle with a drill press, inserted the bit with a friction fit, and shaped the handle freehand with the monster belt sander.

Then I hopped in the car and drove home.

All I did by hand in my shop was my latest favorite finish:  burnish with a polissoir, dunk in the boiled linseed oil, wait a day and follow with a coat of Dick wax.

Now I can get on with some hand-tool work.