Friday, December 18, 2009

The Wood Shop Jr.

Well as explained before, my family and I have again moved back to Wisconsin, It's good to be home, I don't believe we ever should have left, but what do I know. anyhow

We now reside in a small 2 bedroom upstairs of a duplex. Not a whole lot of room to move around at all, and no space for a real shop, The only saving grace for my sanity...I mean my hobby (could be insanity just as easy I guess) is a small almost 5 by almost 9 space at the bottom landing. It is here I have settled the shop for the time being.

I have wanted to do more hand tool work anyhow, I's my opportunity... I have to say as far as efficiency goes everything is at reach, but as a matter of poor pity me, I miss my table saw and I really miss my workbench. The other than hand held power tools the only thing I made space for is my bench top band saw. Relegated to the floor when not in use.

I am proud of the construct I made for the woodworking vice, a 2x4 scrap and there you go. I secure it to the cabinet top with 4 screws when I need it and back the screws off to reposition or remove it completely. What I wanna work on now is a bench dog system with some wedged stops and maybe a Wonderpup (Veritas)

Anyhow here are some pic of the new shop we'll see what I can wrangle out of here.


Finishing the antique buffet repairs

well I thought I should finish up what I started here by setting out the pics of the finish of the repair, I know it has been a while, the family is finally starting to get settled, next post I do will show the new shop and what I've done there but first to finish the repair of the buffet,

After I stripped the whole thing down to it's bones I started by replacing the floor of the interior cabinet, the original piece was held up in the back by a small scrap of wood, I placed something more substantial that would support the floor all the way across, I also added a support cleat in the middle. Placing this cleat was difficult until an idea dawned on me...I needed to do one of my top five favorite things to do. Go shopping for a new woodworking gadget!!!! I went and got a Kreg pocket hole jr. jig, worked like a dream, and since then I have come to love the little thing, infact I'm not really sure how I got along without this thing for so long. It's like moving from dowels to biscuits... love it!

Anyhow, cleat in placeand shelf set it was time to glue and clamp the pieces back together. This actually fell together pretty easy and left me with just regluing some of the veneer and adding supports around the bottom drawer area, withthe mirror back in place I supported it with some small ripped scraps of pine and covered the back with the rest of the 1/4 in luane plywood that I bought for the floor of the cabinet.

I was relieved when the piece came back together, I have to admit I was scared of turning the thing into a pile of kindling, but the piece is once again sturdy and functional, can't ask for much more than that I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2009

grandma's buffet

well, sometime you have to do a project you've been promising to do for a long time but have been putting off. I am not the biggest fan of repair / restoration work. The few projects I have done have always ended up with me almost completely tearing apart some piece of furniture, figuring out joinery and methods of work that aren't my own, and generally making a meal out of what initially looks like a snack.

My wife was given an antique buffet by her parents, it belonged to her father's mother, supposedly was her "pride and joy" and I can see why, it is a neat piece of furniture. it has also suffered greatly for many years, it was not in great shape when we got it and two moves have . . . how do I say this delicately . . . pounded the ever-loving hell out of it . . . well it's finally time to fix the piece or get rid of it.

By the time I took the pics I had already removed the mirror, thus the peek a boo to the tool bench in the back, The biggest things wrong are the bottom drawer does not open, the builder created this huge bottom drawer and added no center support for it's weight. The bottom of the drawer has also been replaced with old wall paneling once upon a time. I will have to fix this as well, the legs on the right hand side are separating front to back and the thin plywood bottom that was the cupboard base behind the two doors is warped and popped and dropped into the bottom drawer as well...

Today I spent the time taking the thing apart, It came apart pretty easy actually, not many splintered pieces, I found one of the problems in the construction was the use of small scab pieces glued and nailed in place as supports on the inside, well hopefully tomorrowI will have the opportunity to begin to put a few things back together and engineer some supporting cleats to help shore up the thin wood shelf that I have to replace

cheers all and goodnight


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wrapping it up

Well I guess I will try to finish up the workbench odyssey here. It has been a fun and moderately cathartic experience spilling it out step by step here on the net. Its good practice because someday I'm hoping to be able to write a few articles for a wood working magazine or two, I've got some I'm not gonna share that, but we'll see.

So I had the basic build down, it was time to dress up what was left and build the leg vice for the bench. I used a circle saw to chop off and even the ends of the bench top, I removed 1-1/2 " total, adjusting to shave off defects and misses in the wood, it ended up being a 1/2" from once side and an 1" from the other, I finished the cut smooth all the way with a back saw

Now I took some nicer 1 by pine, like I had bought for the shelves, ripped them to the thickness of the bench top and wrapped them around the edges. At first I was considering dovetailing the corners as well, and now in retrospect I believe I would have liked that better but my consideration was the length of the 8' boards and trying to hand cut pins into them and make them neat and tight. Like I said, in retrospect I wish I had given it a try, but I wimped out and went for butt joints.

I glued and nailed the boards around the bench top with 8d finishing nails, and eased all the edges into a slight round-over with my 2" block plane. I also the cut out the face board to match the dug out I made to accept the end vise. I then made a face board for the leg the leg vice was to oppose. This would bring the leg up level with the wrapped edge and help the vice work better. I glued and nailed this piece after I marked and cut the mortise in it for the rail that keeps the lower end of the leg vise in alignment.

I took a 2x10 piece of pine, measured out the angles of the bench and cut the leg vise from that, I agonized over getting the shape just right, I must have measured and sketched it out on the board a half a dozen times before I liked what I had. I used a jig saw to free the vise from the surrounding wood and a hand held belt sander to soften up and bring it to the lines.

I had a large vise screw that I cannibalized from an older bench. The bench came with in the move but it did not survive very well. I had to cut off a leg and repair it to get it down into the basement. but that was after it sat outside for most of a Maine winter, It's got its place but it was never a great bench to work on to start with. It has commonly been referred to by me as my tool bench, because it typically sits under where I hand my peg board and tools, It lives as a staging area for pieces of a project I'm not working on at the moment, for tools that I am done with at the bench but have not put away yet. for the pages of plans I am referring to for the project, or for anything else. The leg vise was a nice feature on this bench and it did see use a plenty, but I always wanted it attached to my real bench, my work bench. and now it is.

The tool bench is probably what you would call an antique in its own right. I received it from my father in law when we bought their house from them in 2000, They were moving into a trailer house and the attached garage didn't have room for more than one bench. however it was not his bench to start was in the basement when they moved in in the early 80's and he took to using it himself, who knows how old it was when he got it, They bought the house from the obligatory little old lady, who had lived on her own for several decades, If I had to guess based on some clues I found remodeling the house. I would say the bench survived from the 1940's or 50's...

it took a bit of elbow grease to get the leg screw off the tool bench, (in the end I had to saw off screw heads with a hacksaw) but persistence paid off and I was rewarded with an excellent mechanism. I clamped the finished vice face against the leg it would oppose so I could drill the screw hole through the whole thickness at once, This way I could be sure of alignment. The only bit I had that was large enough and long enough to drill the necessary hole for the screw, only fit into my brace, so after starting the hole with a forstner bit in my cordless drill, I worked up a sweat with the brace. I have to say it was pretty enjoyable though, I will have to look for excuses to use the brace more in the future.

The reason I did not measure and drill all the pieces seperately (the leg, the face board, the vise board) was I was not entirely sure where I wanted the screw located until after I had everything assembled and clamped up. The nex part was assembling the vice, a couple of screws mounted and attached the bench screw, but I had a little more thought when it came to the runner board that keeps the alignment and allows the vise a little leeway to adjust to the piece it is clamping, Instead of gluing it in solid, I positioned the runner and drove in a single 10d finishing nail throught the vise and the runner board. This acts like a pin hinge, creating some flexibility in the construct.

Now there is only three tasks left, #1, drilling the holes for the bench dogs, (taking care to lay them out to miss the threated rods running through the bench, and the legs of the bench.)

#2, Giving the benchtop a once over to make it as flat as possible, I chose to sand it with a belt sander as my surfacing plane causes a lot of tear out in pine,

And #3, a quick finish with a coat of natural, danish oil. I pondered giving the bench no finish at all, after all it's only a bench, but the washer and dryer live down in the basement as well, and the dryer can cause some fluctuations in the humidity of my shop, so I wanted to give some protection to the wood because of this.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Break From the Bench

Ok I am almost done talking about the bench but I did get to spend some time in the shop today and I feel the need to display what I accomplished

first I got a hold of some 1/2" plywood and built some jigs to attach my band saw and chop saw to. Now when I want to use these pieces I can walk them over to the workbench and clamp them into the leg vice

The biggest kick I get out of the things was my decisions on how I'm gonna store them. The band saw fits fine in the space behind my angle grinder. I'll have to move it if I want to do longer pieces on the router table but oh well.

But the chop saw took a little more thought, but inspiration struck as I was looking at the walls of my basement shop. Around the top perimeter still sticks out the bolts that were used to tie the concrete forms together. They have been broken off over the rest of the wall. like they should be. Well why not use some of them to hang some stuff. a couple measurements and a couple of drill holes and the chop saw is now defying gravity...

The really cool thing though is my new shop sign. about a year ago I went out and found an old antique saw blade, complete with handles, my intention was to turn this into a vanity sign for the workshop. Well I finally got "round to it" Penciled in the lettering two days ago and painted it on tonight. It could use a clear coat of polyurethane, but some of the paint needs to cure first.

Anyhow it has been a good day, and now I say good night to you all


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The hook up

Well it was time... time to begin to put the pieces, the stages, together. Until I began I had no clue how I was gonna manage the angled leg thing and get it spaced right. It seemed to me things would be simpler if I were to attach the legs to the bottom shelf, and then attach that assembly to the bottom of the bench top.
Now all I had to do was come up with the how...

I had some left over chunks of face glued 2x4's from cutting the legs, about 14 inches in length. Well 6 inches of clearance from the floor seemed reasonable, so I cut them into 6 inch long chunks and used them to prop the bottom shelf at that height.

I then straddled the legs over shelf and measured off 6 inches from the edge of the shelf to the outside edge of the legs and clamped them into place. with the clamps tightened I pulled the riser blocks and checked everything for relative level. I made a few gentle adjustments with a mallet until I was happy :) and tightened the clamps again,

I then chucked up a very long 5/16ths" drill bit, drilled the holes for the carriage bolts, tapped the bolts home and tightened them up complete with lock washers to help cut down on the loosen-age that happens over time.

I admit carriage bolts are a bit of a let down for me as I am such a joinery freak, but I had to keep in mind that we live in a rental and someday I may want to move this beast out of the basement, and there is no way it would fit up in one piece, thus no wedged mortise and tenon or anything more fancy, just carriage bolts and lag screw for attaching the legs to the top.

I then lifted down the leg assembly, and flipped the benchtop over bottomside up. Starting to play with things I grabbed my end vise and made a discovery, The top was too thick to allow the flip up bench dog on the vise to be effective. I had to remedy this.

I laid the vice down and measured out the area I would meed to remove and the depth I needed to remove. I then chucked a 1" moticing bit into my router and blew out the area to about an inch depth

This done I positioned and lag screwed the leg assembly to the top. Then it was upstairs to beg and plead with the first lady to com help me flip the whole thing over. I'm lucky she loves me because she came down and helped

I could not wait to test out the height, I desperately wanted the workbench to also act as an out feed table for my table saw, I tried my best to judge and measure, but with the angled legs it would have been easy for someone like me to make a mistake, the disaster would be too high because then I would have to either shorten the workbench, or rethink the shop layout I decided on. I bellied up the saw to the bench and threw a board on it.... lot of suspense and maybe a drum roll. The height on the bench was perfect, dead on perfect, I could not believe it myself.
I made several mistakes on this project and I hope to learn from them for the next time, but to at least get this important detail right felt good.

I threw the boards of the bottom shelf and nailed them into place with 4d finishing nails. And I do believe then I called it a night..

good night all


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Every project needs at least one dovetail

It was a skill I struggled with for a long time when I began woodworking, I was envious of those that could pull it off and thought about it a lot. Dovetailing!

I am sure it is not just me who felt the specter of dovetailing creeping in my consciousness, I believe that there is a good deal of woodworkers out there who feel the same. I judge these thoughts based on the amount of articles I see in magazines concerning dovetails every year, I'll bet that each brand of magazine runs a new article on dovetailing 3 times a year.

Now there are aspects of a dovetail that I have not yet conquered. First of all I hand cut all my dovetails, I have not been able to figure out the router thing when it comes to them. I don't know that I want to bother figuring out the router thing. I am not a high production machinist shop. I am a man with a hobby, and I very much enjoy cutting and fashioning joinery. The success when the pieces fit together the way you planned...almost unbeatable.

I cut through dovetails, I have done both straight and dovetails at a 5 degree angle. I will put up a couple pics of one of my renditions on the Mastermyr Chest. I am sure if this blog continues on you will hear more from me on the Mastermyr Chest, a piece I have recreated a half a dozen times and will continue to work on until I hit perfection. I may be difficult to tell from the photos but the trick to the chest it the sloping, triangular shape of the piece, the front, back, and sides of the chest all slope inwards by 5 degrees. I know I burned up several brain cells figuring out if the joinery would work, much less how to accomplish it. I built the piece for a competition, I got no response after sending in the photos, but the pieces that won were very modern looking, Nothing ventured - nothing gained, I am proud of the piece at any rate

Anyway my love for dovetails made me want to find a place to include them in my bench. The first, most obvious place was the 1x wrap that encircles the bench top. And at the point that I was making the shelf I had every intention of doing that as well, in the end I didn't and I guess as the years go by that may be one of several regrets with this version, but it will not be a big one.

I chopped one simple dovetail for each corner of the shelf. I have never dovetailed 2x material before, it was a little interesting. First I cut the 2x stock to size, Then I cut rabbits in the pieces that would make up the sides. Then I set out to cut the dovetails. Cutting the tail portion comes first, I measure this out with a ruler, a marking gauge, and an angle gauge set at 9 degrees of slope. When I am cutting 1x material for drawers and cabinet sides, I use a shop made cutting guide that gets clamped on to the piece and keeps me honest, I did not want to go through the trouble of makeing a guide that would fit 2x lumber. So I marker it out and cut them free hand. Things turned out pretty well, they were a touch sloppier that I have gotten used to. but moving on.

After I cut the first tail I matched up the end grain of one of the shelf ends and outlined the tail with a pencil. The process I follow to cut the receivers for the tails works like this. 1) I as accurately mark out where I need to cut and make those cuts with a backsaw/dovetailing saw. 2) I then walk the piece over to my drill press and select the forstner bit that will pass through the narrowest point of the receiver slot. 3) I drill a hole with the edges of that hole touching the line demarcating the maximum depth of the receiver. 4) I then go back to the work bench, and use my dovetailing saw and cut to open up the hole for access for a coping saw. 5) I inset the coping saw and cut along the depth line, finishing off the cut, first to one side and the to the other.

After testing the fit on this first joint and seeing if I need to make adjustments to any of the gauges, I used the cut dovetail to transfer the information to the other three corners. I cut all the tails. then lined up to cut the receiver slots to match each corner individually

With all the dovetails cut I assembled and cut some support cleats for in the middle. These were attached via wood glue and 4" screws. In the last picture you can see the shelf sitting upright against the basement wall with the two cut shelf boards leaning next to it.

Next time...assembly!

Good Night All