Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Days You Just Want to Hit Something

It's true, we all have our days when we need to hit something.  And when the need arises, it's best to be prepared to do it in a constructive fashion.  Hence, a small anvil is a good thing to have in a woodworking shop.  When Lee Valley introduced this new little 7 pound bugger, I couldn't resist.  I've always wanted an anvil, but they aren't very practical things to have laying around the living room.  A little one for the woodworking shop was the perfect answer.

Here it is on my benchtop.  It's a wee thing, and the body is made in China and the pins in Canada.  The body is made to Lee Valley specs, by a manufacturer that they chose.  They didn't just pick up a lot cheap for resale through their retail outlets.  Anvil snobs are likely turning up their noses, labeling this the dreaded ASO, or "Anvil Shaped Object".  I admit they are likely correct.  But for 35 bucks, and an iron-clad warranty from Lee Valley, do I really care?  It will likely meet all my needs, except for straightening large saw blades.  It's a little small for that.

The body is hollow, as shown below.

I made a little mobile base from two 6" x 12" x 3/4" MDF glued together.  The anvil is bolted down to this base with 1/4" x 2" x 20 pitch bolts, heads are countersunk on the bottom.  Star lock washers were used in the countersunk holes to keep the bolt heads from turning when the nuts are tightened.  Then I drilled two holes on either end of the base plate, spaced such that they would fit over any pair of dog holes on my bench.  A couple of 5/16" x 18 pitch cam clamps with 6" bolts make it really easy to attach this to the benchtop.  Fastened to the bench over a leg, it is surprisingly sturdy and will take quite a beating without budging a smidgen.  

I also shellacked the MDF and drilled a hole front and back to stick the pins in, so they don't get lost.

Low Sawhorses

Occasionally I have the need to lift a project, tool, or large item just a few inches above the floor or benchtop.  Low sawhorses similar to those used by Japanese carpenters are just the ticket.  Very simple to make and a great little hand tool project.  I would have preferred hardwood, but I had some Douglas Fir scraps left over from my bench project.  After a little bit of sawing,

and a little bit of planing, I had my stock square and ready to go.  You can make these whatever size you want.  These are basically 2" x 4" about 2' long.  The feet are about 8" long.

Simple half-lap joints are used to join the feet to the beams.  These joints are 3/4" deep.  I also used a 3/8" dowel about 2" long to reinforce the joint when I glued them together.  I also dressed up the feet a little, adding some curves and chamfers.

Then it's glue-up time.  The feet are located about 2" from the ends of the beams.  You just need to make sure everything stays square during the glue-up, so that your sawhorses don't wobble after the clamps come off.  If they do, just use a block plane on the bottom of the feet to level everything out.

Wipe on a coat of oil or your finish of choice, and they are ready for use around your shop.  If you are going to be using them for sawing and are concerned about scarring the top of the beams, you can use double stick woodturners tape to glue on a half inch strip of sacrificial wood on the top.