Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wine Cellar - Harvesting

Got tired of waiting on my son-in-law's truck, so I piled seven sheets of drywall in the back of my 4Runner (barely) and then lugged it down into the basement.  Was it hard?  Nah, it was a breeze; after all, it was EASY-LITE lightweight drywall.  And that's the biggest load of marketing crap I've ever seen in my life!  Gypsum drywall?  Described as lightweight?  Ha!  Drywall makes me happy I have a college education.

But it's done.  A couple of several-hour sessions was all it took, and the room is complete.  I decided against mudding, taping and painting.  I was also planning to paint the floor, but then decided I wouldn't.  I was cleaning up, sweeping and mopping the floor in prep for painting.  60F and I was sweating like crazy.  Then it hit me, as I watched the water soak into the unsealed concrete - the floor was like a big rock sponge (you geologists will understand that).  It holds moisture - why seal it up?  So the floor will not be painted.

The door is the original hollow core, and is partially weatherstripped.  I need to get a little thicker weatherstripping for the other side of it.  I will also make a sill from hard maple, glue it to the floor and weatherstrip that.  Since the temp and humidity are exactly where I want them, I don't think I need an insulated door.  And it would be a pain to paint it to match the others in the house, so the original will work fine.

The room holds steady at 58F and 60% humidity - perfect for storing wine.  Here's my modest little 100 bottles or so.  That could easily be expanded to 300, probably up to 500 if I really jammed everything in.  I will build a few more shelves, but not very many; I'm thinking bulk storage for cases rather than single bottle storage.

I celebrated by cracking open a nice bottle of '05 Bordeaux.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Handles for Woodturning Tools

I recently seriously violated my turning tool bugdet (an everyday occurrence for most woodturners, by the way) and bought an Easywood tool for the express purpose of doing a hollow form.  True to it's name, the tool is easy to use.  But I still wince when I think about the price ($125).

But then I ran across some Youtube videos by "Captain Eddie", or Big Guy Productions.  His instructional woodturning videos were funny and educational.  Lo and behold, he sells the steel and cutter portions, unhandled, of tools that are pretty similar to the Easywood tools.  For 25 bucks apiece, including cutters.  Add your handle and you are good to go.  It was to cheap not to try, so I ordered his international package and added my own handles.

Here are the three I made, laid out beside the Easywood and a Crown scraper for perspective.  I like the Easywood handle type, so I stuck with that in Maple.  I apologize for the pic quality; these were done with an old Canon Powershot S80, not my usual Nikon, so the quality suffers.

A pic of the business end.  From left to right is a round 3/8" bar with round 3/8" cutter, a square 3/8" bar with round 3/8" cutter, a square 1/2" bar with square 1/2" cutter, the Easywood full-size finisher which has 1/2" square bar and 5/8" round cutter, and the Crown 1" scraper.

 And a close-up of the handles for comparison.  The bar lengths from Eddie were quite long; the 1/2" was a good 15" and the other two were about 12".  They are all planted in the handles a good 4" - 5", sealed with West Systems epoxy.  The ferrules are copper plumbing fittings from the borg, 1" ID.

How do I like 'em?  I do!  They are basically fancy scrapers with replaceable tips and never have to be sharpened.  I have only used the big one, and it works great.  I had to work on it a little before using it; the screw hole for the cutter needed to be countersunk (just a little oversight, no big deal).  The steel is soft, it only took a few minutes to do.  Eddie responded very quickly to my questions.  The square cutter tends to move as you tighten it, so you have to take care to get in on straight. The round ones fit perfectly, no problems.  Other than that, these things are great. Ok, they don't look as nice as the Easywoods, but for $100 per tool less, I am NOT complaining.  These tools will last a lifetime.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rust Redux Research

It's been a busy day and I'm pooped.  Seems like a good time to relax and do some research for the restoration of my new Stanley Mitre Box Frame No. 50 1/2.  Notice the wording and the spelling?  It comes directly from the label on the saw frame.  That's important if you are doing a patent search, which I did.  Google patents comes in handy for these things.  First I just searched on "Stanley miter box saw model 50 1/2" and I wasn't doing well.  Marched out to the garage and brought the frame inside and used the exact wording from the label.  Bingo!

  1. Frame For Miter-Boxes, Patent No 766,794, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards, Assignor to the Stanley Rule & Level Co.
  2. Saw-Detaching Mechanism, Patent No 766,384, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards
  3. Gage And Gage-Clamp, Patent No 766,790, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards
  4. Precisionizer For Index-Pins, Patent No 766,792, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards

It seems there are at least four patents describing this saw, all approved on August 2, 1904.  There are likely others, I think patents 766,791 - 799 all describe miter boxes.  That particular date is easy for me to remember, it being my wedding anniversary.  No, of course not in 1904!  It's interesting to note that there is no model number listed on any of the patents.  I believe the tool was manufactured from 1909 to 1967, roughly.

Now that the technical stuff is safely saved on the hard drive for future reference, it's time for more practical research - just a plain old Google search.  This should yield some forum discussions, pictures, and hopefully some write-ups by some experts in miter boxes.  Here are partial results of "Stanley Miter Box 50 1/2" google search:


  1. WoodCentral, 50 1/2 Miter Box Troubles, Dec 2003
  2. Old Tools Archive, Stanley 50-1/2 mitre box, Aug 2010
  3. Old Tool Archives, Stanley Miter Boxes, Feb 2007
  4. Old Tool Archives, Miter Box Info, Apr 2000
  5. Sawmill Creek, Miter Box Help, Feb 2007

Got lots of hits on forum discussions, the list above is partial.

Catalogs & Instruction Sheets
Stanley 1914 Catalog

I was looking for a reference to the original paint color, but I have not found anything yet.  The frame of the one I have appears to be light gray, with black legs, saw guide cylinders, etc.  Unfortunately, it does not seem that anyone maintains a website specifically for old miter boxes.  Would have been nice to find an expert out there.

Oh, and a little progress has been made; the box has been dis-assembled, soaked in a citric acid bath, rinsed in fresh water, and dried with a heat gun (my better half doesn't like it when I put parts in the oven to dry).  Next is wire brushing, then painting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rust Redux

Well, partially. Redux refers to something being brought back and/or restored. I've done part of that - I've brought a hunk of rust back to my shop. When I spotted this I didn't have a clue what was the brand or model. Careful inspection didn't help one bit - I couldn't find any kind of mark on it at all, other than "RAS" and "V51732" (likely owner initials and serial number). But it was well made and heavy cast iron. Good enough that I would risk eight bucks on it, anyway. In this pic I had already wire-brushed the mitre box and the wood. That's walnut, by the way. 

The saw looks like complete garbage. Nuts with phillips heads kinda gives it away, and no maker mark on the medallion. The handle shape is pretty ungainly, but the wood actually looks pretty decent. I might be able to refinish and reshape this handle into something that can be re-used. The carving is pretty weak, tho. I think this particular box was sold without a saw, so the user supplied one. Good thing I have several Disstons laying around, thanks to Walt at Brass City Records.  

I finally took out the screws holding in the wood, and the mystery was solved after wire-brushing the plate which had been hidden underneath. It's a Stanley Sweetheart model 50 1/2, and with a little cleanup, this will be a nice little user. It's not one of the big sought-after Langdons or Millers Falls, but it's a decent little mitre box saw that will serve me well in the shop.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wine Cellar - Pruning & Thinning

I'm making good progress on the cellar, it's a simple reno project that just requires a little sweat equity and time.  There was one small issue with the framing that I fixed with a few blocks of wood, so the drywall will be supported properly on the corner.

Vapor barrier is up on all walls and the ceiling, except for under the landing.  I'm waiting on that until I get the light fixture.

Next was insulation for the walls.  I underestimated the amount needed, will have to go back and get more for the ceiling, plus the light fixture and the drywall.  There is a logistics issue with the drywall, as I need to borrow a truck to get it home.  Not sure when that will happen yet.

Added some 2x3 cross-members to support the drywall between the stairs.  This was easier and cheaper than running a stringer straight up the middle.  Less wood, and will work just as well.  This will also hold the ceiling insulation in place while  drywalling.

Functionally, it is almost there.  It already feels cooler, and it will hold humidity well because of the vapor barrier.  I sure was sweating putting in the insulation, even tho it was about 66F.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wine Cellar - Planting The Vine

Aren't blogs just the most wonderful thing?  When you should be working, a blog is the perfect excuse not to (oops - ended with a preposition - hope my english-teaching sister doesn't read this).  "Oh, gotta stop - I just had a thought - better blog it before it's gone!!"  Off we trot to the computer, glad to take a break.  That happens to be my happy state at the moment, as I scribe these words into the electronic annals of the google dungeons.

But I digress.  I'm here to tell you about a wine cellar project.  Not your typical woody kinda project, but wood will be involved, so it will be blogged.  It's more of a home reno project, with things like vapor barrier, insulation, drywall (ugh!), paint - and then we will get to some wooden shelves and such.

The genesis of this project began in my wee brain six years ago when we moved into this newly-built house.  And therein lies the problem.  Six years.  No progress.  Wine being stored under the stairs.  The fancy 1,000 bottle cellar suitable for your snootiest wine snob was nowhere to be found.  Hmmm.....what is the issue?

The issue is I suffer from delusions of grandeur (isn't that step 1? Admitting you have a problem?).  We didn't need a big wine cellar and we didn't have the space.  It just so happens that under the stairs was working fine, thank you.  A cellar in the 100 - 200 bottle range worked great for us over the past few years.

Under the stairs was actually a really good spot.  It is in the basement and the in-floor heat did not extend into this area; one wall is an exterior wall and is underground - so it's pretty cool under there.  Humidity is about 50%, which is pretty decent for our dry climate.  But the walls shared with other heated rooms weren't insulated, and the temp was about 68F, which is 10F to warm.

It was obvious the grandiose plan needed to be downsized and modified.  The new plan, which is being executed now, is to finish off the area under the stairs and make it an acceptable wine cellar that could handle any wine for decades at the proper temperature and humidity.  That means implementing the following steps:

1) Cleaning it out - what's all this luggage doing under here, anyway?
2) Adding a stringer in the center of the stairs.  This is just to provide a spot to attach drywall, it will not be structural.
3) Putting up vapor barrier.  It will go on the warm side.
4) Insulating
5) Drywall.  Mud and tape?  Dunno - depends on if the wife wants it.
6) Paint the concrete floor.
7) Put down a sill under the door, and weatherstrip.  The door isn't insulated, but it should be OK.
8) If necessary, remove a section of vapor barrier and insulation from the exterior wall.  This should help reduce the temperature.
9) Several open containers with water will help keep the humidity up.

So for a couple hundred bucks (at least an order of magnitude less than a "proper" wine cellar), we will have a nice, cool, humid spot where the snootiest wine snob would be happy to lay down their priciest french bordeaux.  Working part time, a couple of weeks, tops.  What's not to like about this plan?  Cheap, fast and top notch results.  If push came to shove, I could easily jam 500 bottles under there (not that I ever will).

The other thing I like about this cellar design is it's completely passive.  The cool temps come from being underground and well insulated from heated rooms, and humidity comes from standing pails of water.  No electric air conditioner, no humidifier, nothing to break, no bills to pay.  Perfect for those of us with a bit of Scottish heritage.

Step 1 is done and I'm putting up vapor barrier.  Here's a few pics.

Wine & Luggage storage.  What?  You don't
store your wine with your luggage?
Your normal door to under-the-stairs

The shelves on the right are some that I picked up at Costco for a ridiculously low price.  When I got them home and unpacked them from the box, I found they had been treated with an oil finish of some type that did not dry.  This is NOT what you should store your wine on!!  The oil soaks into the labels, ruining them.  I had to hose them down and leave them outside for several weeks to weather off the oil.  No wonder they were cheap!  Typically, wooden racks for wine storage should not be finished.

Cleaned out and putting up vapor barrier
Vapor barrier on left wall

The picture below shows an electrical hookup for a light under the stair landing.  I'll put in a recessed light here (if I can find one small enough to fit in there, I think those are 2x6s).  This will give plenty of light in the deeper recess in the back.  There is already a light over the door that has a door-activated switch, which is a nice feature.

As mentioned, I'll put a 2x6 stringer up the middle of the stairs so there will be a spot to attach the drywall.  Otherwise, there will be a nasty sag in the drywall.  The stairs will also get the vapor barrier/insulation treatment.

That's installment one - planting the vine.  I'll have to come up with some other clever phrases for the upcoming installments; harvesting, crushing, fermenting, tasting, etc.  Now my wee brain is empty, so I better get back to work.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Coolest Thread in Wood-dom right Here.  No! Don't just blindly click it, you silly person, it could be a scam!  OK, it's not a scam; read on, if you wish, to learn a little about it before you click.

  Smooth Plane Profile, Work Magazine Vol 5, p. 68  

It's about a project that reproduces an infill smoothing plane from the late 1800's, a plane that would be used by a carpenter or joiner of that era.  Instigated by the research of Joel at Tools For Working Wood, made possible by a skilled volunteer that hangs out in the Hand Tool Forums at Woodnet, this has to be one of the most interesting threads/project builds I've ever seen.  From the research (Work Magazine Vol 4 and Vol 5), to the planning, patternmaking and casting of the bronze body, this is keeping many of us on the edge of our seats.  Have a look, I think you will enjoy it also.

And be careful out there, you never know when a spammer will raise their ugly head!  Be an educated clicker.

Friday, May 4, 2012

In Old Tool Hell, A Cool, Refreshing Drink is Served.....

Have you heard?  Lee Valley is thinning their herd of old tools.  Excellent!  Western Canada is not known for it's abundance of old tools, so I was excited about the possibilities.  Reading on......thousands of planes.....saws....reasonable prices......can it get any better?  But wait, it's in Edmonton, three hours away; no problem, I've done that drive lots.  But then the deal-killer - it's on Mother's Day weekend, and I already have plans.  Ah, well.  You lucky devils that make it please post about your adventure, as I will be living vicariously through you on this one.