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.)

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.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Six Board Chest On the Go - Part I - Concept

I am the youngest of seven children. Five girls, and two boys. Ever since I can remember, we have given each other Christmas gifts on a rotating schedule. That way. I only have to buy for one of my siblings or my parents, rather than come up with something for them all.

For the last few years, I have been making things for them. So far, I have given three Roorkee chairs to three of my siblings. This makes a great gift that can be mailed to the states from Europe with relative ease.

This year is different.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied starting my new career as an English teacher, and haven’t really gotten started with this year’s Roorkee before I leave today to visit her.

Instead, I will build her a proper six board chest while I am there. It’s the perfect project for having limited time and a limited tool kit.

I have no idea what kind of wood I’ll find, and I have no idea what I will use as a workspace. No problem.

I’ll get some wood when I’m there for this project. I have ordered some milk paint, and some brad finish nails that will hopefully be delivered in time. The other thing that will be delivered is a fine old Sargent plane that is the size of a #5 that I found on Facebook. I plan to use it for this project and give it away to a family member.

I packed my trusty Dicksaw (ryoba), a marking gauge, and an iron and chip breaker from my #4 that I know will take little time to sharpen. Who knows what kind of work the one on the Sargent will need. I also brought a tapered drill bit and my leather strop which will need replacing soon. For hardware I brought a hand full of Roman nails and four Spanish brass butt hinges.

I plan to use an electric drill, if I can find one at my sister’s, and I am hoping she also has a hammer.

I will purchase at the Borg a ½” chisel, and sandpaper for sharpening, and some screws for the hinges.

It is less than a modest tool kit, but I plan on making this a “no compromises” build regardless. It also needs to be done in minimal time, and it should be painted and topped with a coat of BLO before I have to board a plane to return ten days later.

Oh, and my folks along with at least four of us siblings will be there, so the project shouldn’t get in the way of my family gathering.


Perhaps I can get some of my siblings to post a guest authored post or two about this build. It should be fun!
Add caption

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Me ‘n’ Her #5

Me: Look what I got in the mail today!

Her: You can’t sleep with it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Laying Out The Board Without Measuring (Part VII)

I don't quite understand how progress in the shop can suddenly come to a screeching halt for no apparent reason. It seems to happen to me on every project lately.

Yes, I am still working on this simple project. No, I haven't gotten anywhere in the last week or two on it. Yes, this post is about work that I did weeks ago, but no, I haven't blogged about it yet.

I blame the Chinese.

Actually, the Chinese have been good to me. I started a new job teaching English online to Chinese kids. The kids are great, and I am having good fun. The only problem is it is interfering with this project.

Perhaps writing a bit about it will get me back in gear.


I am using a piece of mahogany that used to be a drawer front. I rescued it from a dumpster, and this particular piece is very nice. It yielded two boards of appropriate size for this project. Perhaps if I ever finish the first one, I'll make a second.

I printed out a paper gameboard about the same size, and instantly decided that I didn't want to copy it. I want to use the board I have just as it is. To do that, I'll need to lay out the squares on this board.

Two mahogany blanks and a paper template that I won't use.
My plan is to have a bold chamfer run along the entire outside of the board, and then have the squares raised on the board above recessed borders about the width of my thinnest chisel.

The chisel I have is about 3/16" or so, so that is what I'll use for measurements.I set my marking gauge at 3/8", enough for the chamfer and the outside border of the game, and ran the gauge all around the outside.

The boxes must fit inside this border.

The trick for laying this out perfectly now lies with the use of dividers. I did not measure a single thing. I used dividers first to divide the width of the target area into three, then I divided the length into eight equal parts.

I just had to make sure I also allowed for the width of the border to be added to the size of the intended square.
It took a couple tries to get the perfect measurement from the dividers. It was smart to mark the points in an area that will get removed later.
Once that was layed out, it was just a matter of sawing cross grain rabbets to depth, and plowing grooves along the grain to define the raised boxes.
It is turning out just like I planned. Don't screw up the crosscuts!
I then carefully cut out the notches for this particular board. The hardest part was shaping the chamfer in the 'U' shapes.
This is where this project sits now.
I think on the next one, I will wait to cut the chamfer until all of the boxes are done. It will make it a bit easier for my marking gauge and plow plane fence to register where it is supposed to be.

Next up, I will try chip carving for the first time to define the designs on the board.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Royal Game of Ur Dice That Anyone Can Make - Popsicle Sticks (Part VI)

It occurred to me that some enthusiasts of the Royal Game of Ur might stumble upon this series of blog posts. Here is a set of dice that require almost no skill at all to make.
Marked on only one side.
Yes, that's right. Popsicle sticks.
Popsicle sticks

Larry left a thoughtful comment on one of my posts last night which got me thinking. He said there is research that flat sticks were probably the most common dice used for this game.

I made some. It took about five minutes.

All I did was cut the popsicle sticks in half (as you can see, I didn't even get all the color off of them), round over the square ends with sandpaper until they matched the roundover on the un-cut end, and in my case I used a couple of leather punches to make a mark on one side.

A mark could be made on one side with anything. Woodburning, Magic Marker, crayon, anything.

And because I'm me, I put on a coat of boiled linseed oil, then wiped them down.
These dice will work just as well as any other. And if one gets lost, a good excuse for a treat is born.


Larry made some similar dice from some dried bamboo that was in his back yard. One side is naturally black. Here's a photo, and his description is in the comments.
Larry's bamboo dice.

Larry made an entire set.
Nickels would have been cheaper. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Easy Version - Knuckle Bones (Part V)

In my research of The Royal Game of Ur, I found out that often this game was played with knuckle bones from goats. I find it hard to believe that such a simple game most often used the tetrahedron dice when they aren't easily made.

All this game really takes is an opportunity for all four dice to show either a one or a zero. This could be done with traditional six sided dice. A roll with an odd number is one, and an even number is zero.

I would much rather have something a bit more traditional than plastic dice, though. One video I saw of a guy who was making game sets from cardboard had little rectangular shapes, which I immediately recognized as his version of the dice.

I could do better than cardboard, though.
My version of knuckle bones. Yes, I made an extra.
This was dead simple to do. The hardest part is accurately planing my stick. I used some mystery wood, which could be goncalo alves, but I think probably not. It is very heavy.

Once I had the stick planed as accurately as I could at somewhere near 1/2", I marked out six points on a centerline with my dividers.
This stick is long enough to make five, just in case I screw one up.
I drew layout lines at each of these points, and then marked the centers of each piece on a centerline for my inlay. I did this on both sides.
Here I am drilling holes.
I had some big 5mm bamboo skewers, which should make Greg happy. After drilling in each piece from both sides, I glued in a bamboo peg in each of the holes.
Mine go all the way through. Much easier, and it isn't likely they will pop out.

Waiting for the glue to dry.
After these set for a bit, I got impatient and cut them off with my flush cut saw. Yes, I know hide glue takes 24 hours to cure, but these pegs aren't going anywhere.

Flush cutting.

Here's what it looks like.
I also chamfered each corner with two swipes on my block plane. Doing that now will make them much more uniform.

Next just cross-cut as accurately as possible. I still cleaned up each end with a shooting board.
I'll wait until tomorrow to polish the faces and apply finish.

Two positives regarding this style are they are much easier to construct, and being easier to make, they are likely much more accurate.

The only negative I can see right now is that they are a lot bigger, which might be a challenge for players with small hands.

I'll report back after having played the game several times with each set of dice.

Just in case you are wondering, I haven't given up on the tetrahedrons. In fact, I finished cutting out one of those today, too.

I found this video, which shows the game played with replicas of actual knuckle bones.