Monday, May 31, 2010

Dado With a Vengance

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Be sure to take a minute to remember that it is for more than a three day weekend from work. We might not be able to make saw dust and talk about it like we get to if not for the sacrifice of some.

Tonight I made a couple of further steps on the Joinery Bench. two days ago I spent most of the day with a plane in my hand and I got the worktop flattened to a consistent thickness. Now it was time to begin the planing for the legs. This involved cutting dados in the bottom of the benchtop to support four cleats. Between these cleats is where I can secure the legs using carriage bolts and wingnut washers to allow for easy breakdown.

So again came out one of my pride and joys, the dado saw I managed to make from scratch. (you can read about that journey HERE) like before it worked very well.

I made all the cuts and then hogged out a bunch of the in between with a wide chisel.

Then I made good use of the router plane with the wider 1/2 inch blade. I took it in passes at three depths to level out the bottom of the dado. I have to say I haven't gotten to use the router plane to do a whole lot since I've gotten the rust cleaned up and the blades sharpened, but it is a different kind of enjoyable from other planes. The results are very satisfactory taking the roughed out bottom of the dado and making it a nice smooth playing field.

The dados were done, but it was too late to forge on tonight without pissing off the neighbors, but tomorrow I'm going to start on the legs, I am thinking if I really work at it, I can be finished with the legs this week and getting the wrap and accessories done the beginning of the week after that. None to soon either, I want this to be ready for my Medieval Reenactment Group's first real show of the year near Peoria in 3 weeks. I'm not sure I'll make it, we'll see how it goes, I'd rather skip doing wood working demos for a show and have it correct and done right for the next one, than field something half assed.

There is at least one other project I need to accomplish this week as well.I guess we'll see just how efficient I can be from here on out, For more info on the upcoming show and the Medieval Reenactment Group I belong to, you can visit us at the Tribe Woden Thor website.



Saturday, May 29, 2010

Workshop Reloaded, Version 5.0

I have used several versions of the Oldwolf Workshop over the years. The first incarnation was a nice basement shop, about 15 foot wide by 25 foot long area, a nice big space that I utilized, but not necessarily efficiently. I was still learning. I haven't been able to find any real pics of that shop, documenting things like that never occurred to me at the time. In fact documenting my work at all only started around a year ago, when I joined Lumberjocks and started up this blog. I really like keeping up on the recording what I've done and how I've accomplished it both in photo and words, it allows me the chance to go back and revisit an idea and see what changes I've made, or even re-experience the process a little.

Then we moved across town.

My second incarnation Version 2.0 was a combination garage / basement shop. I kept the main area of the shop in a 2 car garage and worked there 3/4 of the year, then I had a small workshop area and workbench in the basement where I did some smaller joinery work and carving and small stuff during the colder months. Here is where I began to get serious about my woodworking.

Then we moved from Wisconsin to Maine.

Here, in Version 3.0, I went back to the basement again. This is probably the most well thought out shop and my favorite set up so far I have had yet, It was here I built my first real workbench, and set up a smaller shop than others I had used before, only using a little more than a quarter of the basement, but it was the most efficient shop I have run to date. Everything within a couple steps of everything else. Now I had downsized some equipment and what not to make the move so I had less to fill the shop as well. You can see some pics of that version in older posts on this blog and also on the family blog I kept up while we were in Maine, click HERE to see it. The biggest downside to this shop, and something I don't miss, is that the basement had 1 plug for the whole area, located over by the washing machine. So I worked with one long extension cord across the basement and under my feet all the time. Is it any wonder I started to become more interested in hand tools while we lived there?

Then we moved from Maine, back home to Wisconsin.

Long story made short, There's no place like home. Here we moved into a small 2 bedroom upstairs apartment in a duplex, with a small 5 foot by 9 foot storage area at the bottom of our steps that became Version 4.0 a.k.a The Woodshop Jr. I caught the hand tool bug a little while we were living in Maine and here I have been able to focus on really learning to use them. That is the positive of the shop. The negative is the size and limitations. It drives me nuts most days, as does the too small living quarters for my family of five.

Now we are planing to move again.

We have been aproved for a nice, big 3 bedroom apartment in some new construction in LaCrosse, It's inside an downtown apartment complex way up on the fifth floor above the city. (5th floor is way up for the city of LaCrosse) the positive, more room for the family, the downside no room for a shop, To the rescue, like a superhero, comes my dad, "Papa Wolf". He has a large size steel shed he built in his back yard back in '01, it's the size of a small trailer house. He has used it for a shop of his own and storage space, but he recently decided he wanted to relocate his shop stuff to the basement of the house so it's closer and more convenient for him, especially in the winter.

Knowing that I was in this predicament, he offered to let me use most of the shed to set up my shop, and gave permission for me to cut some holes to install a wood burning stove so I can work there year round. This is going to be an interesting experience for me on several levels.

One, I have never lived in one space and had my shop more than 100 feet from my bed. This means that my shop time will be easier to focus while I am there with less distractions, but it will cut down on my ability to "take 5 minutes" and do something quick. All in all I think that this will be a good stepping stone to the eventuality of starting my own shop / store and making a living doing custom woodworking, which is the eventual goal here. The trick will be deciding an amount of hours to dedicated to the shop and sticking to it, say 16 hours a week, two 4 hour days after work and one weekend day. That seems like a reasonable balance between hobby and home.

Two, I will not be setting up one shop for this project, I will actually be helping set up two shops, mine and Papa Wolf's, Mine, of course, mostly dedicated to woodworking, His being more of a general purpose workshop, but he has plans, he was talking to me about what he wants for workbench set up yesterday. (hmmm...I wonder how many workbenches one would need to build to be on par with Chris Schwarz?)

Three. I will be setting up wood burning stove that I have hailed around from place to place for years, doing this safely in a wood shop will be interesting as well as planning out measures to deal with condensation and other problems in a shop that will not be consistently heated in the winter, just intermittently when I'm there. Shop wiring and lighting will be a hurdle to deal with as well. Lighting is a constant issue when moving to a new shop, but wiring will be a new one for me.

And there will be several more hurdles I'm sure, but hands down it will be good to be into a new shop soon, I miss my table saw some, but I miss my full size workbench more. I have spent several hours thinking and planning what to do with the space, and though there will changes, I have a starting plan, probably for the first time ever :)  I spent a couple hours playing with a great online shop set up tool put out there for free use from Grizzly Tools, The drawback for me is that the tool footprints they have are all their own tools (duh) so those thing do not fall out exact to what my stuff is, But I was able to get it very close. Here is what I have so far

You will see in the plan one of Papa Wolf's caveats for using his shed. . . that I left room for him to park the riding lawnmower. I can push it out while I'm working and there will be no problems with this I'm sure.

If you want to check out the shop planning tool for yourself, even just to play around you can click HERE,  I may even try to play around with this on SketchUp before I'm done, It might be a good starting place to learn how to really use that tools as well.

The following pics are progress shots from working with Papa Wolf on clearing out some of the shed yesterday and getting some stuff from the house to the basement. To see the before pics you can check out my post showing them here. 



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rethinking the Joinery Bench or The Enemy of Good is Better

If you read my last post here you'll know that I have been trying to solve a dilemma regarding the design of my take on a dedicated joinery bench. (if you haven't read my last post, you can catch up here). Well I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading today, and with the suggestions of a few readers (Thank you again David) I think the ideas have come together.

The big thing for me is making this bench able to knock down for transportation, yet still be sturdy enough to hold up to use. Initially I was going to pretty directly copy the Joinery Bench that was the inspiration for this adventure. The one built by Tim Williams over at the Bench Vice blog. With the crossing "X" legs, man I thought those were sexy, I was going to attach the legs to a top cleat that would have slid into a sliding dovetail on the bottom of the bench.

Maybe I should explain that I am fantastic at creating the most elaborate devices for joinery, especially in areas where it doesn't matter. Often time I plan huge, and then back of little by little until I have a more simple answer. As my day job I work in an operating room, and when I started there I learned two little phrases that have served me well. The first one I learned was an anagram called K.I.S.S. for Keep It Simple Stupid, I really do love and admire simple solutions, they carry a quiet elegance and because I tend to me a "make it more complicated than it has to be" kinda guy, thinking of this anagram from time to time does really help me. The other phrase is one of my all time favorites, and the first time you hear it, it doesn't sound right, but as you think about it you realize how profound it is. It goes "The enemy of Good, is Better" meaning if something looks right and works right, it is right. you can over think and overwork something that works into and elaborate thing that doesn't work at all. I'm sure if your are reading this and are a woodworker yourself you can relate to the experience. I'm pretty sure it's a universal trap, wanting to make something better, and screwing up what was already pretty good.

Sliding dovetails would have been cool, and I could have bragged about them here. but honestly for the ability to knock down the bench to move it, not so great. The sexy "X" legs outside on potentially uneven ground. I think I'll do better with a standard 4 leg bench with a low stretcher that I can stake to the ground if I need to. An elaborate front twin screw bench vise, or a simple wide front apron to do vertical clamping with holdfasts and a smaller bench screw vice for edge planing. I just kept repeating the mantra today of simple answers are better.

 You can see in this scan of my shop drawings for the bench, the progression of my thoughts this afternoon. My initial thoughts were to have the front leg straight and cant out the back leg. The more I drew and erased (the scan hides a lot of eraser marks) the closer I came to the design represented on the upper right. The legs will basically be frame with no panel in the center and pinned mortise and tenon joints. The top rail will connect by fitting between two stretchers attached to the bottom of the top. They'll be secured with two nuts and bolts. Between each leg will be another stretcher in the front and back. These will be through mortises with tusked tenons.

It feels good to finally have a plan in place and the simplicity of the drawing on the upper right works well for me. I really like the little round I drew into the bottom of the side stretcher.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Damn, Now I Have To Make Up My Mind

I have discovered that the quiet shop and the whisk and sweat of a handplane can be good for doing a lot of thinking. Thinking is a dangerous thing and I believe you should try to avoid it as much as possible. It will generally only lead you to trouble and dilemma, exactly where I find myself sitting tonight. Though I think in setting myself up for this blog entry I have seen some rays of sunshine.

Often it is better to be lucky than good, and luck for me this time means that I am building a small workbench / joinery bench for use at traveling hand tool demonstrations at the same time that a rather good size discussion about period workbenches has popped up about the woodworking blogs, importantly involving a couple of woodworkers who I happen to really look up to, and maybe quietly hero worship a little, Chris Schwarz and Peter Follansbee. The discussion related to the twin screw face vise depicted by Joseph Moxon in his 1678 work titled "Mechanick Exercises."

Most involved in the discussion speak about how the face vice cannot be actually part of the bench, and I have to agree it looks out of place and bulky, and it would obviously be very much in the way of the harder to see, planing wedge vise on the front left of the bench. The alternative thought is that this vise is an accessory piece that can be added or removed from the bench, like a bench hook.

I admit I am a simple man and would probably just accept the picture as it has been accepted for a while, as gospel. I was kind of excited to finally create one of these vises for my new joinery bench. Then I got to reading. (sigh)

First it was Peter Follansbee's entry about 17th century holding techniques. He talks about how he uses hold fasts for the lion's share of his holding, but he admits he does not do a lot of dovetail work. Something I very much enjoy and something a twin screw vise excels at. This posting was I think, inspired by Chris Schwarz posting about adding a planing wedge vise or bench screw, to his new Roubo workbench (read it here), This article got me excited about the style and I was trying to play with how I could also add this vise to the joinery bench, and perhaps to my bigger Nicholson Bench (along with accompanying deadman of course).

Then, last night I read Chris Schwarz's follow up on the twin screw, and I knew things had changed for me. He showed a very viable, and believable way to construct the vise as a separate accessory and attach it to the top of the bench when needed, (I do not want to just pirate the pictures of the set up and post them here, I walk a already walk a tightrope when it comes to that practice, just follow the link and read his post, once you see it it makes so much sense) Now I had some decisions to make, and none to soon as I was moving towards starting on the vise soon.

These posts have made me do some rethinking on the design of the project. If I remove the twin screw vise then I remove a major design element and I feel more free to change some of the rest of the design to. I spent the whole day dwelling on the issue and I have came to some decisions. I am basing these decisions on the fact that I am using this bench to do demos of Medieval woodworking, so I want my bench to be as old and document-able as possible, therefore I am doing away with the attached twin screw vise, and instead constructing it as an accessory that will attach to the top of the bench for when I need to do that kind of joinery. I will instead install a planing wedge or bench screw style vise. With this I can go most of what I desire anyway. built well enough I could probably even do some dovetailing with it . . . we'll see. I am going to drop the height by several inches to better accommodate that additional height of adding the twin vise to the top of the bench when in use.

I am also going to change the geometry of the legs. I very much like the "X" pattern used by Tim Williams (whom I borrowed the original joinery bench idea from) but with it I cannot utilize holdfasts as additional upright fastening systems like Mr. Follansbee shows in his post (see here) so I am  going to rethink those as well, probably to a more straight leg design on what faces me and a canted out angle on the backside of the bench.

I was playing with all these ideas when I started getting this post together and I found something that helped me make up my mind. In early 2009 I was not involved in blogs at all, I didn't write one and I didn't read them. So unfortunately I missed a post by Mr. Schwarz on an early 17th century Swedish joiner's bench, recovered from a shipwreck. A reader called " J Rayner" posted it in the comments section of Mr. Follansbee's blog. (Thank you J Rayner for posting this so I could find it!)

Carrying my Norse heritage with me on this medieval adventure I was instantly intrigued, and once I saw the picture, I knew that was the way I had to go. So a few more shop drawings to do tomorrow, and this weekend I can get working on making a huge dent in this piece. provided I can ever get this top flat, but that is another travesty for another day, until then



Monday, May 24, 2010

The Amish Wal-Mart

Laugh if you want, but there is a place here in rural southwest Wisconsin that goes by this name. After you've lived here for over a decade or so you hear about it, but only like it's a rumor, dust in the wind. A friend of mine who has lived down in LaFarge WI for the past 12 years has recently located it and he told me "You gotta see this place"

So this past weekend we made some plans and drove down to his house to spend the day and visit "The Amish Wal-Mart." Now I think I should explain that this is not the official name of the store, infact I don't think there is an official name, I believe it gathers the name from the recycled Wal-Mart product shelving they use inside the pole barn. Where gathered inside there is a odd collection of things, One part antique store, one part salvation army, one part overstock store. A lot of tools, farming supplies, kitchen wares, just imagine if a gigantic corporate conglomerate chose to build a store that would be direct market for the Amish niche.This would be it, like a perpetual Amish rummage sale, and it is awesome!

It's kind of mysterious, there's no electricity, so no light other than what's coming in several windows, but that still bathes the dozens of isles of odds and ends in a dim, darkness. Things are gathered into rough groups, but it's kind of a "dig through the piles and find whatever you think is cool" kind of place. If you go looking for something specific and ask for it, if it's there they can help find it. but if you just go to browse, expect to search. And I love to search. Prices are much more reasonable than your typical antique store fare as well.

I was drawn to the place because my friend told me there was "a lot of planes" there, and I have been kind of hoping to find a decent plow plane for a while. What was there didn't impress me, a couple of halfway useable wood planes with W. Butcher irons in them sparked me for a minute until further inspection showed the blades were sharpened to within a  quarter inch of their lives. I did find several nice Disston saws that I decided to turn down and some very cool hammers that were tempting. Decisions are difficult but I did eventually find a few little pieces that followed me home.

I did need a different brace, of the two I have one is painted and sports a "Craftsman" emblem on the handle, OK but not great for any type of reencactment woodworking, and my other the handle on the swing slides around when pressure is applied. After picking through the 2 dozen braces they had on the shelf, this is the one I chose. I also picked up this odd little pick axe / adze tool, both ends have been sharpened with a bevel and it intrigued me. I have wanted a bowl or coopers adze for a while, but I always seem to lose the bids on eBay when the chance comes up (not that I'm trying that hard). After getting it home I took a few swings on some scrap pine without touching up the sharpness on the blades at all and it worked very much like an adze, hollowing out a space.

I did also find a kind of cool turning tool, home shaped from an old nicholson file. Shaped to cut beads. I couldn't leaving him sitting there either, so he followed me home too.

The Amish Wal-Mart, not something I need to go check out monthly, but maybe bi-yearly would be pretty cool, we'll see what follows me home next time.



Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Balancing Act

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all out of sandwiches here in the Oldwolf Workshop, It is time to move past that course and on to the prime rib!

I refer of course to an odd kind of sandwich making where you laminate two-by boards together, face to face, in multiple stacks, bigger, and bigger, and bigger until you have one solid block of laminated board that will create a very effective and solid top for a workbench. This is the second time I have created such sandwiches. The first was for my full size workbench, a twisted genetic mutation combining the Nicholson Workbench and the 175 Dollar Workbench (both from the stylings of Christopher Schwarz, the god father of all modern made workbenches) This time I am doing it to build a smaller foot print, but taller Joinery Bench, after the stylings of Tim Williams at the Bench Vice Blog.

The sandwich making process can be kind of a slog to work through, but it gets more interesting as you move along. You start with boards roughly a 2x4 in size. Oh, please let me interject some advice here. Mr. Schwarz states that he prefers to use 2x8 and rip them in half to make his own 2x4's and I highly recommend the same. The first build I thought bull, I can just pick the best 2x4's in a pallet and I'll be ok, and I did get them to work well but it was more of a struggle. For this build I listened to the man and ripped the 2x8's in half. The boards I had were so much better and stable. I should have listened from the start.

Anyway, the 2x4's get cut to length and jointed. For the dimensions of my version of this bench I decided I wanted a work surface around 24 inches deep by 40 inches wide, so 16 2x4's cut at 40". Then you start the slow process of the build, First you glue up pairs, then the pair get glued into sections of four. I stop here and flatten the blanks again. Then stacks of four become stacks of eight. Which is where I was when I started this morning, and this is where it gets a little exciting.

Now don't get excited, this is not "hold on to your seats, we're going over the waterfall" exciting. But in comparison to the rest of the glue up, this part gets top billing. See I have a pretty decent collection of clamps in shop. Enough to get me by on most occasions, but I do not have enough clamps to go crazy and get it all done at once, so the glue up goes in stages for me, The first pairs go two at a time. with at least a four hour cure time for the urethane glue I've been using, that means in the beginning I get four pairs of glue ups a day, equaling 2 days spent on the start, Then moving to stacks of four, still I can get two at a time, so we are at a day there. Going from stacks of four to stacks of eight is one at a time . . . thus another day. So four days in the shop with a lot of down time, and that makes the balancing act that is gluing the fairly heavy stacks of eight together seems riveting to me.

And the time was finally here. Blanks set. Glue applied. and the lift was on. For all the problems I always anticipate doing this maneuver, so far in my career it has gone off smoothly. The anticipation of problems often renders such thing null and void so I managed to get things aligned and the clamps applied with relative ease. I pondered leaving the glue up vertical but decided I was probably already taxing the poor plastic saw horses enough as it was.

I used a couple of plastic Wal-Mart bags as a prophylactic to keep the squeeze out from attaching the glue up to the horses and laid the sucker down. Man she's got some weight, which is good for a bench but I do want this to be portable so I can travel with it for exhibitions, and I haven't even added the hickory trimming and vise yet. Oh well, I still think heavier is better.

So all that's left now is the perpetual woodworker's question. "What trouble can I get into while I'm waiting for this glue to dry?"



Friday, May 21, 2010

Finally Some Progress

I have spent the last several months collecting, restoring, and teaching myself to use hand tools better. Now I am working on a couple projects using those hand tools exclusively. The first project I finished was building my take on a pair of traditional saw benches, or saw horses. You can follow that odyssey here if you like. Now I am in the beginning stages of building a specialized Joinery Bench for myself based on the one built by Tim Williams over at the Bench Vice blog. I am making some modifications so it will fit me best of course, raising the height and making the bench top a little bigger.

But the cool thing about working my way through is taking tools I have rehabbed and getting them to work again. And getting them to work well is so freaking gratifying, there are almost no words. The first tools I started rehabbing were my saws, and I really got to work with a new skill to start the bench by ripping several 2x8's in half to make the boards to build the lamination's for the bench top. That was exhausting work, but the saw I worked so hard to learn to sharpen, joint and set the teeth, it cut wonderful, followed the line and moved the saw dust out. I'm sure in hands that would have more stamina those boards would have fallen to the side in short order. For me it took a while, but again, I was the limiting factor.

Tonight I really got to dig in to working with my planes. I had used planes for several small, odd jobs in the past, shaving a joint, cleaning up the sides or rounding board edges, but I have never yet used them to completely resurface a board. In a previous life I would have found a way to use a power tool to do the job, probably the table saw, (as I didn't own a power joiner or planer when I had the full shop set up) Tonight I found a new joy, and I will use it whenever I can in the future.

I had pine boards sandwiched four thick, glue dried and cured. And as you can imagine, with hand ripped boards there are variations in width, Not major but enough. I pulled out the Sargent #5 that I spoke about restoring a while ago (if you want, read about it here) Since I have a good Stanly #5, when I sharpened the blade I lightly cambered the Sargent, so it would work well in thei situation where I need to remove a lot of material. Not as cambered as a true scrub plane, but just enough to work, and it worked well. I worked up a sweat but the boards flattened nicely.

I had to come up with a little bit of an interesting technique to hold the boards in place, (the wood shop jr, strikes again) and even though I had to attack the board from one end and then flip it to get the other, things evened enough for this stage of the game.

I must say that it is very satisfying standing ankle deep in wood shavings. I'm not sure why exactly, maybe the simple evidence of hard work and a job done well, but whatever it is it's difficult to replace. I always say I love making sawdust, but I think that making shavings is so much more fun and satisfying,

More good time in the shop tomorrow but that's all for tonight.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Universe Will Provide . . . Interuption, After Interuption, After . . .

Once, a long while ago, I was very involved as a co-owner of a company that produced medieval and renaissance style faires, At one point our company was asked to consult with an area buisness about putting on their own faire to promote their buisness. As we offered some of our expertise and tried to ask prying questions into their plans for advertising and what not, and they kept coming back to a recurring pattern of speech that said variations on the phrase "Ya, that's cool, and we'd really like to try something like that, but really I'm not worried because the universe will provide."

Very Big Lebowski-ish, I should have asked the lady if she wanted to be called "The Dude-ette" or "Dude-erella" or "Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Dude" if I wasn't feeling the whole brevity thing.

My buisness partner and I walked out of that meeting shaking our heads and laughing, to this day "The Universe Will Provide" is a phrase one of us will bust out to add some levity when there seems to be a huge pile of work before us.

Maybe I'm just more sensitive than usual because I'm feeling under a bit of a time crunch, but I have made a commitment to do a weekend of hand tool woodworking in front of the public the weekend of June 19th & 20th at the Olde English Faire near Peoria Illinois. and I have just started the Joinery Bench that I want to use to work from. but this last week and a half I have been able to get no where, My shop is too small to do glue ups in, necessary to pull off the laminated 2x constructed top, and we just finished up a week of nothing but rain and super cold weather, The weather improved this weekend, but I was schedueled to spend the whole weekend ata a nearby communities Syttende Mai (Norwegian Independence Day) Festival promoting Tribe Woden Thor, the Medieval Reenactment group I am a member of.  A lot of fun, but still no work was accomplished.

I can almost hear the clock ticking in my ear.

So if your are not the kind of person who will sit and wait for the universe to provide for you,  what do you do when you feel like the universe is working against you? (pic from the Hubble Telescope found on Wikipedia)

My answer is you knuckle down and work harder. I vow to continue to rail against the falling sands of time and accomplish everything I can. (I know, I know, a bit over the top) We'll see if I can do it.A real challenge. . .  I accept.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Making Sandwiches

Since I know my parents check in on this blog from time to time . . . .Happy Mothers Day Mom. Love you. (yup that pic would be me, been bald most of my life now it seems...)

Now there are not any real pictures to share from the shop today. Nothing terribly interesting going on anyway, just cutting some of the boards I ripped to 40" length and continuing to glue them up in pairs, wait 4 to 6 hours and glue those pairs together. Once I have them all joined 4 boards thick I', going to clean up squeeze out and give them the first joining. Why then? Nothing really scientific, it just feels right. I will then continue to glue until the whole thing is assembled and repeat the squeeze out - clean out dance, and rejoint everything flat again. Then, the top will be done. How quickly it happens will depend on the weather. It has been very rainy and cold (to cold to glue!) here in western Wisconsin  most of the last week, but nobody really has that much control over that kind of stuff.

Naomi, the girls, and I went out to visit my mom for mothers day this evening, this allowed me a chance to get some before pics of my father's shed that I will be converting into yet another version of the Oldwolf Workshop. I'm beginning to call this one Version 5.0. We'll see if the name sticks.

It's a metal shed on a concrete pad, It's 32 feet long by 12 feet wide on the outside. You lose some of that to the metal studs on the inside. It has a full length lean-to on one side and a small auxiliary shed attached to the other side. The lean-to also houses a play house for the grand kids.

I will not get to use the full length, as they still need some for storage room. I will get about 20 feet or so, That's a hell of a lot more than I have now so you will hear no complaining from me. My father has used it as a workshop himself but has decided to move his operation into the basement of their house, because it is more convenient. I would have to say I am probably mostly to blame for this too.

Following is a series of pics inside the shed. The big pile of stuff covered by tarps is already the rest of the Oldwolf Workshop. The table saw, drill press, lathe and joiner. Empty and full tool boxes, shop vac, rolling tools stand and machinist vise. Halogen lights, wood stove, router table and anvil. When we moved back from Maine, everything went into a storage shed for a couple of months. When we got into our current apartment and started emptying out the shed, my dad offered to house the tools I had no room for here. Later he offered to let me use the shed for the shop, I have thought about it for quite a while as this would be the first time I have not lived on the same property my shop is on. The prospect has both pros and cons but finally I have decided to move in . . . a little more permanently.

The real caveat is that I have to resolve to leave enough room by the roll up door for him to continue to park the beloved John Deere lawn tractor. I don't think that will be a problem. But as you can see by the pictures, there is a good amount of organization and clean up that has to go on before I can settle in. There is also the question of heating this puppy in the winter. I may have to talk him into letting me hook up the wood stove for this, though shop fires scare the living hell out of me, I think I can get it set up safely, I have a friend who has heated his house with wood heat for years, Installed it into every house he's moved into. I'll talk him into helping me get things set up if dad agrees.

I couldn't help myself tonight after I took some pics, I started moving some lumber scraps out and under the lean to. There is two things I'm looking forward to with this project:

1) Getting a full sized shop back, where I can set up my big workbench and some of the other tools that I am used to working with.

2) Getting to spend some time with my dad working on the initial stages at least. I also kind of like the fact that my dad will have access to my shop if he wants, there are tools I own that I know he has use for from time to time, but has never bothered to buy. We can both get some use out of it, and really, that's all very cool to me.



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crap, Now I Have a Deadline

Well now I'm into it, the medieval reenactment group I am part of has been contracted to set up a living history demonstration on June 19th and 20th at "The Olde English Faire," to be held at the Wildlife Prairie State Park out side of Peoria, IL. (More information can be found at their website here) Up until now the closest faire we had on the books was early August, so I had some time to get together my set up for doing period hand tool woodworking demonstrations. Now my demo needs to be ready in a little more than a month. 

The biggest problem will be finishing the Joinery Bench I am working on with enough time to set up the remaining things I need. I am starting to ponder adding some electron smashing tools to some steps to help speed up the process. The original intent was for it to be a completely hand tool build, but I don't think I can afford for every day to be like today.

I did get to spend the afternoon working on the table top, I got the last two 2x8's ripped in half, Thank god. I don't think I could do many more. I just don't have the wind for it. I took my time and changed things up so I wouldn't wear myself out. I set up my sharpening station and sharpened some chisels, I would rip a couple feet of board, sharpen some chisels, rip a couple more feet, crosscut a couple of previously ripped pieces to length, rip a little more, start the sandwich glue up on the to length boards, rip a little more, go sharpen another chisel or two, rip a little more.

Following this pattern I managed to work my way through the last two boards. and get a couple of other little things done. But sandwiching the boards is a time consuming trick. I like to use the polyurethane, expanding glue for this process. I have to admit that I have no exceptional reason why I consider it to be better than standard woodworking glue for this application beyond falling guilelessly for the advertisements of it being the "toughest glue on the planet" and the foaming expansion gives me a feeling of complete coverage and contact. 

As darkness fell I had to pile everything I was working on back into the shop and turn in for the night. You'll notice how jammed full of crap the Wood Shop Jr. is from the pic. I really had to control myself to just let it go and go upstairs for supper. I have been on the forums, I've read the posts, I know there are lots of woodsmiths out there who find cleaning their shop just barely a step above things like water boarding and bamboo shoots under the fingernails. I am not that guy. I need and crave an organized shop. Maybe its the way I was raised, (I doubt it because my father's shops were always piles of disaster on top of piles of who knows what, but he always had good intentions of organization, its just that a lack of time always got in his way) Maybe it's my job in an Operating Room where I have to keep a large amount of surgical instruments organized and ready for a case. (this is probably more likely) Maybe it's just who I am . . . either way, I'm not crazy or over obsessive about it, it doesn't get in my way of making sawdust, but I do like to put away things properly because I view it as protection of an investment. 

Typically I will clean up a little between stages of a build, when I'm done mortising a joint, I hang up the chisels and mallet. When I finish a project, I clean the shop itself, sweep the floor and try to get things ready for the next show. In between projects I usually do a few maintenance things, sharpen a plane blade or two, maybe tune up the table saw, things I didn't take the time to do in the push of finishing a workpiece, sometimes this leads to building a shop accessory I thought would help during the previous build. It's a method of work that has always worked for me. But I really had a problem with how packed the shop looked tonight. I know the Wood Shop Jr. is going to hamper my style more and more as this project continues, as the piece grows and grows. 

We'll just have to wait and see how frustrated I get. On a side note, if you live near Peoria and are looking for something to do this June, stop by the Olde English Faire and see me. Just remember to be kind, this will be the first time I make sawdust with a potential audience. 



Updates on the Oldwolf Workshop

Well, there are several updates here and along the way that I feel compelled to share.

First the updates on the cyber-side of the shop. I'm very happy to talk about how this blog has grown in leaps and bounds recently. March 23rd I put up a post here celebrating 1500 hits, I thought this was a heck of an accomplishment for less than a year on the web. Then on April 16th I received an email from Luke Townsley at where he informed me he was going to add me to the blog RSS collector on his site, since then I have seen readership explode here as more people get the chance to be exposed to the little experiments in sawdust. That has inspired some additional creativity by me on the blog, so you may have seen some changes already and will continue to see future ones. For instance I went back through all my old posts, linked them by category, and added the list to the side bar. I am also working on several stand alone pages, one is up already as I decided to start with an "About Me" type page, but I am going to add others including a peek into my woodworking library, a gallery of completed projects, a step by step walk through on one of my favorite pieces to build, replicas of the Mastermyr Chest, and some other ideas I have as well. 

So I want to thank everyone who is newer to reading my blog and welcome you here, but more importantly I want to thank Mr. Townsley for giving me the added exposure. If you haven't had a chance to read through his blog I highly recommend it. Looking through I realized that his blog was one I referenced for myself when I was planning the build on my Nicholson Style Workbench, About a week ago he posted that he was recovering from some health issues and looking for some inspiration to get back into making sawdust, I offered my 2 cents of encouragement on his post, I urge you to go there and offer the same, you can find it here.

Other changes on the horizon includes a move, this will be the fourth time I move the shop, and probably not the last time either. If you have read here much at all in the past you have heard me lightly complain that we are a family of five stuck in a little 2 bedroom part of a duplex. With summer upon us and us getting back on our feet financially, we have been looking for a bigger place. Of the 2 prospects we are mining now, both are in apartment buildings and offer little in the way of space or opportunity for a shop. My father has come to the rescue and offered me the use of most of his back yard shed, this isn't a little shed, it's the size of a small trailer home. The drawbacks are, for the first time I won't be living in the same space as my shop, this may work for and against me. On the right hand, there will be less chance of distraction while I am there, if I can set a schedule and keep it, 2 or 3 days a week of planned time, then I may just be more productive. But on the left hand, I will have to actually travel to get to the shop, so there will be little to no impromptu, "I've got five minutes, I'll do this" time. The concept really enforces the fact that there is no "perfect" place to work, and that woodworking, like everything else in life, has to be a conscious decision. Either way it will be what it is.

Have no worries I will document the whole journey here on the blog, again thanks for reading, I hope you stick around to see what the future holds, I know I'm excited to find out myself.