Sunday, June 30, 2013

Time For A Change

Please note that I have decided to move my blog to Wordpress.  I have started the migration process, but it is likely to take a month or so before everything is up to snuff.  New posts will be placed on Wordpress, not here on Google Blogger.  Wildrosewoodcraft on Wordpress

WARNING!   Rant ahead!

Why?  It's because I'm tired of Google.  They used to be the new up and coming internet darling, with all kinds of new and cool things.  I'm an early user of gmail, chrome, google docs, picasa, google drive, and other things google.  But the Google I initially signed up for is gone.  They no longer listen to their users, they simply shove new GoogleCrap down the users throats.  So I'm leaving.

A good example is Google+, which I refer to as Google Minus.  Every time I try to do something, they try to force me to sign up for Google Minus.  At one point they did it without my permission, but I deleted the account.  I don't want Google Minus.  End of story.  Leave me alone.  Oh, wait, Google doesn't listen to users, so we only have one thing we can do:  Leave Google.

Another example is Picasa.  This used to be the best photo cloud site on the web, and a really nice simple photo editor on the desktop.  It also linked seamlessly with Blogger.  No longer.  Every time I try to to link Picasa photos to my Google blog, I get jammed into the "Join Google Minus" system.  Long story short, I can't post my Picasa web photos on my blog any longer.

Finally, every time I try to view a Youtube video, Google trys to force me to use my real name in public places.  No way, Google, it ain't happening.  I believe in privacy.  Google believes in mining their users for every scrap of private data that they can get their grubby little paws on, and using it to their advantage.

So rather than consolidating all my internet use around Google, which would let them mine my personal data continuously,  I will be taking the divide and conquer approach.  My new browser of choice will be Firefox.  Blog will be Wordpress.  I'll keep my gmail account for now, but that is also in danger of going.  I've already set up a Yahoo email address just in case.   Photos have been migrated to Flickr.  Google Drive will be dropped in favor of Dropbox.

See you on Wordpress!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Benchtop Renewal

Since re-arranging my shop, I was having this.....nagging feeling.  Like something needed to be done, but I was purposely blocking it out.  You've all had that feeling before, haven't you?

Something finally gave way, and I owned up to my responsibility.  The benchtop needed to be flattened, now that I could get to all sides of the bench.  It actually wasn't in bad shape structurally.  There was no twist, but the front and back edges were definitely higher than the middle.  Cosmetically, it could definitely use some help.

I didn't take any before pics, as the camera was off-site, but here's an old one of one of the worn sections of the bench.

I started with the LV BU Jack with a toothed blade.  I know I'm supposed to use a #7 or #8, but this BU Jack paired with a toothed blade just seems purpose-made for this type of project.  Plus, I didn't need to make major changes, just do a touch-up.

Then smoothing with the LV BU Smoother.

And finally scraping with a card scraper.

Finished off with home brew BLO/Turpentine/Mineral Spirits.  Ready for another couple of years of abuse!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Must Be Bored

Why?  Because I'm not only doing spring cleaning, I'm doing spring re-arranging.  As if I don't have enough to do.  But I want to transition from my winter shop to my summer shop.  Here's my winter shop, crammed into the front of my garage, sharing space with two cars.  It's a nice little one-person workspace, but I can't do work on any large items in this space.  This is about a 10' x 15' space. 

Now granted, this is the pic I submitted for the "Messiest Shop Contest" on Woodnet.  So it looks a bit cluttered.  No, I didn't win, I was definitely in the "Lightweight" category. 

With the winter layout, I have limited access to my contractor table saw, planer and power jointer.  So I tend to use a lot of hand tools in the winter, along with the lathe and bandsaw.

Here's the new layout, with the truck in the driveway for the summer.



This exercise and new layout had some definite advantages, such as:

1) I can now work on both sides of my bench
2) Although the table saw, jointer and planer are not set up to run immediately, I can access them quickly
3) I cleaned some spots that hadn't been touched in multiple years
4) I found half a dozen tools that I had lost
5) I found tools I didn't know I had, and hadn't missed, which means I should sell them
6) The lathe is now right by the lathe tool rack
7) I have space to work on larger projects

So overall a worthwhile venture, although moving a 350 pound bench by yourself without wheels is a bit of a struggle.  But got 'er done, and the back is only a little sore.

Disston #4 Backsaw Cleanup

This little 125 year old backsaw was in sad need of some TLC.  Having said that, it was actually in pretty good shape and looked like all original equipment.  The discovery of this little gem is described here. The before shot:

And after a minimal cleanup.  I call this minimal because nothing new has been added; only rust, dirt, paint and old finish have been removed.  The saw shows well, but it still looks 125 years old.  That handle is just a classic shape, isn't it?

I removed the saw nuts, handle and back.  Normally I leave the back in place, but this one was seriously canted.

Then I lay down a length of particle board with melamine on one side.  This works way better than newspaper, cardboard, or garbage bags.  All of those get messy and fall apart after a while.  Then I carefully scrape as much rust off as I can, without digging in and scarring the metal.  I follow this with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper in 3-in-1 oil.  You can use mineral spirits, windex or just about any other lubricant that you want to use.  On small blades I use 3-in-1.  I also usually start with 240 or 320 grit sandpaper, but I wanted to go slow on this one and look for an etch (no such luck, tho).

The sawnuts were cleaned with Brasso and a brass brush.  The handle was scraped with a card scraper, then rubbed with a 3M pad with alcohol to completely remove the old shellac finish, which looked pretty sad.  I finished the blade and the back with 600 grit and autosol rubbed with crumpled foil.  The handle got a coat of danish oil.

One last comment; this is the first backsaw I have done a total rehab on.  When I put the back on after cleaning, I inserted the blade in the back as far as it would go, see below.  This resulted in one of the holes for the sawnuts being completely covered, so I asked the Woodnet guys what was up.  Toby steered me in the right direction.  Apparently only about 1/8" of the blade extends into the back.  Once I fixed that, it was easy to finish up.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Brace Storage Cabinet is Filling Up

I built a brace storage cabinet about a year ago to hold 5 braces and 3 eggbeaters.  Several guys on the Woodnet forum mentioned it was not large enough, and now they can tell me "I told you so".

The brace side of the cabinet has been full for some time with the following, left to right:

MF No 34 6" Rosewood
MF No ?  8" Beech
Dunlap 10" painted
MF No 772 10" Rosewood Lion
MF No 421 12" Beech (in back)

I ran across an old MF this past weekend, couldn't read the model number, but it was a 12" with cocobolo handles.  No way I can pass up cocobolo, and it was cheap, so I bought it without hesitation.  After cleaning off some rust, it's a MF No 731, which is a nice brace, probably from the early 1900s.

Now I have a 6", 8", 2 10", and 2 12" braces.  But only 5 storage spaces.  The obvious, logical answer is get rid of the Dunlap.  The less obvious and illogical answer is to use the storage cabinet for the best looking and most functional braces, and build a cheap hanger bracket to hold another 8-10 braces.  And keep buying and upgrading.

Yeah.  I think I'll be illogical on this one.

PS:  If I were to build this cabinet over again, I would make it a few inches deeper so the bit boxes didn't stick out the front.  Or build bigger drawers so the boxes could be stored in them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Smallest "Miter Box Saw" I've Ever Found

I strolled into my wife's favorite little antique shop the other day.  It has all the things my wife likes, and virtually nothing that interests me.  But we had time to kill, and we spent some quality time wandering through, looking and commenting on things.

It's run by several of the nicest little old ladies you'll ever meet.  One of them asked if we needed any help, so I asked if they had any tools (I always ask, they never do, and we have a nice chat about some obtuse antique item, say, the rare victorian carved cigars or whatever, and I go on my way).

But this time she got a funny look on her face and said, "Well, we don't understand tools at all, you see, but there is this....thing, I think it's a miter saw, back over there in the corner."

So I went to inspect the thing.  It was indeed a saw in a crude miter box made of recently processed pine such as the local lumber yard carries.  A small saw sat cradled in the kerfs cut in the box, barely spanning the width of the box, about 12" long.  The blade was black with something like tallow, the handle was worn and dark with scars and the upper horn was damaged.  It was straight, but could use a sharpening.  The saw back was beginning to separate from the blade near the handle, which was apple.  H. DISSTON & SONS * PHILADA was stamped on the medallian and the brass nuts were domed.

All the above at a price less than $10 made it a pretty easy decision to give this saw a new home in my shop.  My preliminary assessment is a Disston #4 backsaw, dating to approximately 1878 -'88.  The handle shape is a closer likeness to the #4 rather than the #77.

When I fetched the saw to the cashier to pay, she asked if I didn't want the miter box that came with it.  "No, you can keep it", I said.  "I don't think it's original equipment, and this little saw will stand on its own merits, but thank you anyway".

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's Camping Season

And every campsite needs a good bench.  My son and I built one from hand tools and western red cedar this weekend.  There was lots of raw material available, piled here for about 7 years, so it was nice and dry.  We pulled out the largest one we could find.  We used a pruning saw, axe, mallet, jack plane, chisel and wedges to build our bench.

First we cut out the notches in the legs, leaving them attached to the main trunk.  Don't have to worry about them holding still while sawing if you do it this way.

And the finished legs, roughly two feet long.  Nothing was measured for this project, but that's the approximate length.  Not exactly pretty, but they work.

Next, we cut a six foot length from the trunk used the axe and the wedges to split it in half.  No pics of that operation, but it split pretty cleanly.  However, there was some twist, so we went to work with the chisel and jack plane.

Then it was time to sit and relax and enjoy the view!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Home for the Homeless

…...bird, that is.  This was an interesting project from several perspectives.  It began when my son-in-law, Jordan, asked if I would help build a birdhouse to enter in a contest at his workplace.  Since Jordan is a structural engineer at an architectural firm, I suspected the entries wouldn't be your run-of-the-mill back yard birdhouses.  If we wanted to compete, we knew we had to take our game to the next level.  We had to consider the design, material, aesthetics, usefulness from the bird's perspective, and ability to withstand weather.  We both wanted something that was practical for the birds, plus had a chance of at least placing in the competition (note that a lot of the entrants are primarily interested in winning, and the poor birds be damned).  Google was put to work and we found lots of interesting designs, which of course we wanted to tweak a little.

First we had to choose the material.  During my last trip to the lumber yard, I had seen some kayu batu in the corner, and had picked up a few planks.  I didn't have anything in mind, but it was reasonably priced for an exotic and I wanted to see how it responded to hand tools.  It's commonly used for decks, and has a reputation of lasting forever out in the weather.  This seemed like a perfect project for the kayu batu.  The planks were almost 5/4" thick and 5 1/2" wide. 

Design, construction techniques, joinery, etc, were topics at the center of a lively debate.  We settled on a design that is somewhat similar to the final product (not exactly, because we ended up "winging" parts of it, har har).  We purposely violated some woodworking rules in order to achieve desired looks and take advantage of the material at hand.  Of course, we had to compensate for our violations in other ways.

The primary rule we violated was in regard to the dovetails.  The tails and pins were not aligned with the grain, which is flagrantly breaking a rule and compromising structural integrity.  We did it for three reasons:  1) we wanted the look of hand-cut dovetails,  2) we did not want the end grain to show, and 3) we could utilize the planks with the grain running up/down without cutting them down or gluing up panels.

We compensated by doing our best on the glue-up with waterproof glue, then ran a bead of epoxy paste on the inside of each joint.  Result?  The look of hand-cut dovetails, efficient use of materials, and a box you could run over with a truck.  This is built like a brick ...uh…. Bird-house.  Not that other four letter word you are thinking, get your mind out of the gutter!

To start the construction, we first re-sawed the planks and milled them to final thickness.  Final wall thickness is a hair under 1/2".  We did get some cupping after a day or two, but nothing the hand planes couldn't take care of.  Next was hand-cut dovetails, the entry hole was drilled, and the back was shortened at the bottom to allow a sliding floor to go in/out.  Then on to the glue-up with Titebond 3, the waterproof stuff.

Next, I epoxied in the four posts to support the roof and added a fillet of epoxy paste to each of the four inside corners.  Mortises about 1/2" deep were chiseled into the bottom of the roof.  The roof is two full-thickness pieces that are edge-glued together.  It is tapered about an inch from front to back on each side, with an overhang of 2" at the front and about 1 1/2" at the back. 

After dry-fitting the roof, I decided it looked to heavy and added the curve to the top, using a cambered-blade jack plane and finishing with a smoother.  It looks better and will help it shed water.  Gotta love design features that look good and are also practical.  The roof is attached with epoxy paste.

The finish is watco oil, and I also soaked the end grain with epoxy and put epoxy on the bottom of the roof.  I did not put epoxy on any areas that are exposed to the sun, as UV rays quickly destroy epoxy.  The reason for the epoxy on the end grain and bottom of the roof is the wood developed several checks after final milling, and I wanted to do something to keep them from growing.

This is the guinea pig first-build, and it's one I will keep.  Jordan is also building one, and finally we'll build one for the contest, which will be auctioned off to support wildlife groups.

How does kayu batu respond to hand tools?  Overall, I like it.  It is a bit brittle, but it doesn't really splinter.  It planes well, as long as your blades are sharp.  A little tearout, but it's controllable.  I didn't use my toothed blade, so it's not that bad.  Scrapers work wonders on it, I did not have to sand anything, see the curlies below.  Grain is ruler straight.  My understanding is this is a farmed, sustainable wood, so no rain forests were logged.  

Here's a pic with the roof dry-fitted and no finish.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Simple Shop Cabinet

I needed more storage, and found wall space to squeeze in a 24" x 42" cabinet in Doug Fir. I started with a 2"x10" that I resawed into 1" and 1/2" pieces. The 1" side became the dovetailed carcass and shelves, and the 1/2" side became a shiplapped back.  The bottom shelf is fixed in a rabbet and the upper two are adjustable. No doors at the moment, I'm thinking about that, not sure I want them. 

I'm happy to have something that is solid wood rather than plywood and MDF.  I put a home brew boiled linseed oil - Mineral Spirits - Turpentine finish on it, followed by paste wax.  I've blogged about this build previously, in Glue-Ups With The Right Clamps Are Boring and More Efficient Dovetails.

I also used a couple of the 1/2" resawn pieces to make some "Redneck Plywood".  Never heard of it?  It's cheap and strong.  I had two 1/2" pieces left over that were in sad shape, full of checks and knots, and warped all to heck.  Normally you would throw these away.  Don't do that - glue them together and glue a 1/4" strip on the front.  Makes a great, cheap shelf, and you can't tell it from a solid wood shelf.  

For now, it is being used to store some of my hand planes until I get the plane cabinet built, hopefully this summer.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Glue-ups With The Right Clamps Are Boring

And without the right clamps, they can be exciting. I have some 48" Besseys and one would think a 42" shelf would fit in there just fine. Nope. They don't. Of course I checked before I started, and had to improvise. The Thule kayak straps came to the rescue, and another tie-down rope with a ratchet was just the ticket. Tight and square.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Efficient Dovetails

Last week I scanned the walls of my crammed little shop, wishfully looking for space for a new shelf. Hmmm.....if I move the fire extinguisher......and shift that clock over.......maybe I can find space for a shelf almost 4' high by 2' wide. Yup, that'll work.

I decided to make it from Douglas Fir, as it's the cheapest best wood in these parts. I looked for poplar, but it cost twice as much. I like to do dovetails on the shop furniture, to hone the skills (and I use the term "skills" loosely).

The other issue was time. I didn't have much. So I wanted this to go quickly. And to complicate things, bad weather had delayed picking up the wood. It's in a big lumber yard, under a tarp. I pick through the piles, get what I want, cut it to fit in the 4Runner, and I'm on my way. 

I ended up picking up the wood on Friday, letting it acclimate in my garage for Saturday (while I was otherwise occupied with family stuff; i.e. what my wife makes me do), and building the carcass on Sunday. Even tho it is kiln dried, the 2 x 10s are not what you would call dry when I get them. So I knew as soon as I started milling it, it would start moving. Another reason to get the dovetails cut and the carcass glued up today. And I have my fingers crossed that it won't go wonky on me after it's been on the wall for a while.

Milling consisted of rough cutting to approximate lengths with a hand saw, then trimming up the edges with a bandsaw followed by jointing with a number 6. Then I resawed it to about an inch thick on the bandsaw, and ran it through the planer to just a hair over 7/8". Ran it through the shooting board using the BU Jack to square up the ends.

Then it was dovetail time. I wanted it to go quickly, and I wanted the joints to fit off the saw. If there were minor gaps, I didn't care. It's a shop shelf. Here are the steps I followed, with some pics for illustration. This was tails first. By the way, one of the best tips I found was in Chris Schwarz' blog, and had to do with gang-cutting the tails. 

0) (I had to make this step zero because I forgot to put it in) Use a Moxon vise or other vise that elevates your work.

1) Use one set of dividers. Don't measure, don't use two sets of dividers, use ONE set of dividers. First mark out how big you want the half pins to be - eyeball it. Then adjust the dividers to fit between these marks for however many tails you want. Fewer is better, I should have done one or two less than I did.

2) Gang-mark and gang-cut the tails. This is what I borrowed from Chris S. Here's a pic after marking and cutting.

3) I used the LV dovetail guide to start the tail cuts. This helped me tremendously as I used to fuss over this step, taking way to much time. My excuse for using a guide is "Why not? We mark the darn things with guides, why not cut them with a guide?" And I only did a partial cut with the guide. Also, if you are off even just a hair, the mistake is magnified because you are going through twice the thickness. Seemed like a smart thing to do when you are in a hurry. Plus it was a Christmas gift that I hadn't used yet.

4) After getting the cut started, I switched to the LV dovetail saw. It cut faster than the pullsaw - going through almost 2" of Doug Fir was a challenge for the pullsaw.

5) Gang-cutting the waste. Another two-for-one. And I worked a little harder to get closer to the lines, so there would be less chopping.

6) You can't gang-cut the pins or waste between the pins (or if you can, let us in on your secret), but you can mount two boards in your moxon at once, saving a few steps.

6) Size your pins and tails to match your chisel sizes.

So did it work? I'm happy to report it did. Every joint went together right off the saw, without any extra paring. They probably weren't my best dovetails, but they were my best fast dovetails. This is a dry fit, and they'll look better after clamping and glueing.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thank You Mr. Buskirk

And who is this Mr. Buskirk, you might ask?  Why, I haven't the faintest clue.  But I want to thank him anyway, for passing on the finest little 26" D-8 crosscut saw that I own.  Mr. Buskirk's name is inscribed on both the handle and the blade.  Given the care and attention he gave this saw, I am honored to have his name on it, and I won't remove it if I ever get around to refinishing the handle.

It has 8 points per inch, and it's likely been cleaned up and resharpened a time or two.  It starts a little slow, but once in the kerf it picks up speed nicely and cuts faster than my other saws.  It probably has a little more aggressive set than my other similar saws, and it might need a little touch-up sharpening on the toe teeth.

The medallion dates it to the 1896 - 1917 time frame, according to the The Disstonian Institute.  This saw is approximately a century old, but it handles and cuts better than any saw you can buy at a hardware store or lumber yard.

I have been cutting up some Douglas Fir for shop shelving and cabinets.  I took my D-42 out to Lumber King when I picked up the wood, as I needed to cut down the 12' 2x10s to 6' so they would fit in my 4Runner.  I love my wartime era Disston saws, but when I got back to the shop I quickly switched to the D-8.  Here's the D-42 in action, but it is a lighter saw and I didn't use it long.  I don't have a proper saw bench, so I just use bench hooks and clamps and cut it on my benchtop.  I put a long thin scrap of wood under the saw blade to keep it from dinging my benchtop when the cut finishes.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yer Basic But Fun Hand Tool Project

 OK, I admit this is back to basics, but it is an actual hand tool project. Sawing was done with mostly with a Disston #4 backsaw, planing with the BU Jack and Smoother, corners eased with an apron plane and spokeshave. Woods are birch, maple, walnut and ash, sourced at the Wild Rose Woodworker Exotic Woods Bin du Scraps, an exclusive spot for the discerning woodworker.  Finish of walnut oil and canning paraffin. 

And just look how happy the recipient was to get them!