Thursday, April 28, 2011

Travelling Tool Box Part 2

One of the tools that goes into my tool box is a chisel knife from Sweden made by Frost of Mora Sweden.  It is a fabulous knife made my a heavy duty maker and since it has chisel tip it is very versatile.  I use it for marking, for heavy scoring and on one occasion for digging dandelions. When I am not pretending it is a utility chisel it is a very sharp knife for trimming and forming dowels and sharpening pencils etc. Nothing seems to phase it and the stainless steel is of such high quality that it is as good as new with a quick honing.
 I have a couple other Mora/Frost knives in my shop and love them all.

     Next on the list is the Rabot Kid plane:
   This plane is made in France and uses a utility knife blade. It is great for rough work and with a brand new blade will do a pretty good job on trim.  You can also move the blade forward and make it into a scraper.  I've cleaned up lots of over spray and paint drips with this little tool.
    The saw is not as exotic now as when I bought 30 years ago.
   I am on the second or third blade in the Japanese pattern plywood saw.  I like it because it cuts quickly and can be used for rough work or if handled carefully will do trim too.  I have even cut landscape timber with it, ultra versitile.  Also the blade comes out of the handle and I hold it inside the tool box wall with a rare earth magnet on a narrow shelf.  I take it with me so that I have a saw that is rasor sharp when I need it.

   Sweden, France and Japan are exotic and in the case of the plane and the knife I have actually been there. The last tool is home made.                                      

    A couple of jobs ago I needed a sanding block to clean up a couple of pieces of trim, that is when I had my ureka moment.  I buy 5 inch 8 whole sand paper by the 50 or 100 sheet package.  I have it in at least 5 grades but when I needed a sanding block I usually turned to a rectangular block of wood and a section of 8x11 sheet sand paper.  It meant that I had to have sheet sand paper in various grits too.  Two things so similiar in purpose that one thing would do the job with a little ingenuity.

   So I went to the fabric store and bought some hook and loop material.  It came by the yard and was about 1 1/2 inches wide.( and cheap) Then I cut out a 5 inch disk and used contact cement to glue the hook and loop to the disk.  I thought about the handle and decided on one that was square instead of round.  The square handle fits tightly and easily into my bench vise for the times when I want the wood to move not the sand paper.  When the sand paper disk gets clogged I clean it with my cleaning block just as if it were on the random orbital sander.  It works great, I use it on the lathe too.

   Having the right tool at hand makes any job easier.

Rabot Kid 24 Boss hand plane

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Traveling Tool Box - part 1

Traveling tool box
 Sitting on my rolling work bench is my traveling tool kit.  This last weekend I was into Toronto to see the kids and do a little job.  Since it is always easier to have your own tools I took this box and its contents with me.  What you can't see in the bottom is a couple of containers of various sized wood screws and a home made wrecking/pry bar made from a leaf spring years ago by my Grandfather.  

    Typically, I have a really nice little Stabila level and usually take  my drill with a fully charged battery and a few clamps. ( you can never have enough clamps).  Of course there is a hammer, a middle weight Estwing that is at least 35 years old.  Good tools cost, but they really last.  My Grandson will inherit the Estwing someday, and probably the Stabila level too.  There are a bunch a pencils and a couple of screw drivers and screwdriver bits for the drill.  I know my kids have a complete set of drill bits so I didn't take mine and I also know that they have a really good jig saw so I didn't take that either.
   My usual practice for a big job is to take this tool box with hand tools and fasteners and another bag with power tools that I have matched to the job.  I really, really try to limit myself to two hands  of tools.  Once the job needs more tools than that  it is usually big enough that I would rather do it in my shop where I have all the advantages and much less supervision.

   In the fore ground are four tools that I take with me most of the time,   and next entry will fill you in on them.  Two of the tools are fairly unique in North America, one French and the other Swedish and one is home made.  Look in on Friday or Saturday and get the rest of the story. 

cheers, Ian

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wisdom - Du kannst nicht alle Hasen jagen

     Recently I was reading an article in the newspaper and it was raving about how this was the "information age" and that the "industrial age" had passed.  The author showed that narrow vision of a techo geek who has vast amounts of information at his finger tips but little experience and clearly no wisdom.  Information did not make the chair you are sitting on, industry did.

   Clearly there is more information available to all of us than ever before.  Should you wish you can spend hours each evening surfing the internet and reading web sites and blogs on any topic you desire. This is absolutely a good thing.  Information enables a thinking person to expand their horizons.  Note I said a thinking person, information to a non-thinking person is just videos of cats playing and girls wondering around in small costumes, it is just T.V., another form of mass entertainment.

  Once information is in a thinking person's head they can begin to apply it.  They make prototypes, they experiment and often try new things. Remember how often you have bought or downloaded a plan that you then modified to suit your situation.  That is bringing your experience to bear on the information you have.  That information was nothing until you used it.

  Wisdom is all that available information applied to real life as we accumulate experience and then filter and distill our experiences.  Time and practice provide the filters that enables us to make and do things better.  Wisdom also keeps us safer and wisdom gives us a depth of understanding that enables us to teach. Sometimes that level of skill and experience is called Mastery.  A level to which we aspire but not all reach.

   Wisdom deals with big ideas, wisdom says take care of your health, don't play with fire and the like.  My father-in-law, Josef Locher who passed away before I knew him was by all accounts a wise man.  One of the things he taught my wife, and she has taught me applies to life and life in the woodshop.

     "Du kannst nicht alle Hasen Jagen".  (you can't hunt all the rabbits).  Wood work is a vast and wonderful field including everything from house framing to marquetry. There is a tool for each and every job and often more than one way to do any or all of the tasks.  

    I look at blogs and web sites and sigh over the amazing carving, inlay work, furniture design etc. etc. etc. I see.  
   No one can Master all wood working,  you can't hunt all the rabbits. Find the rabbit that gives you satisfaction and hunt it. 
   I have learned which rabbits I should hunt.  Have you?  


Friday, April 22, 2011

With Lemons, Lemonade. With wood scraps, Trivets.

  As I make cutting boards and various other projects I create: off-cuts, or scraps, or kindling, depending on your point of view.  In a bin beside the table saw and another beside the sliding mitre saw short, useless pieces of wood accumulate over the course of time.  Since I am a wood junkie I hate to throw "shorts" away or even to burn them.  I want all my wood to be used, and useful and beautiful.

   On Wednesday I gathered together a bunch of poplar and oak off cuts, machined them to fit and glued them all together.  Shazam!! a trivet.  
   Every one needs trivets (hot pads).  Even if all you ever eat is take out pizza the hot pad helps keeps the grease from the box off the table top. 
   Since everyone needs trivets and if like me you have dozens of board feet of off cut shorts.  Make some trivets and donate them to the local, church, school, hospital, animal shelter, what ever's annual rummage/bake sale and let someone use the wood and be a good woodworking citizen at the the same time.  
   I'll get off my soap box now, I'll cutting it into little pieces to make hot pads.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making a Spoon the Viking Way

How to make a wooden spoon, the viking way

This summer, that is if summer ever arrives I want to try and make a spoon like this.  I will find  hunk of firewood someplace and give it a good.
If it happens; weather, time and motivation considered I'll keep you all posted.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to Work

Just a quick summary of things old and new to begin your week.

   Work Bench Magazine has been publishing these weekly e-tips since April 2007.  Many of the tips will not be new, however there is often value in little reminders.  The one that prompted this entry is the cardboard for starting short nails in March 2011.  I knew that, but since I use mostly screws and glue that little trick had slipped my mind. It got used making a safety gate for our back deck last week, where I had to drive a bunch of short nails into thin wooden slats.

  I especially like tips like the cardboard nail holder because it means it replaces a special tool that would be seldom used. It saves space and reduces clutter in my shop.  For example I have a brad push. At one time it was close at hand and used often, but now it is in a drawer someplace.  I can't lay my hands on it quickly and so it stays in that drawer, since it would take more time and trouble to find than using it would save. Also, a brad push will not work on common nails, so the card board trick is really nice on 1 in. common nails.

   A tip that I use often and I can't remember where I learned it so I can't give credit were it is due but I won't take credit for the inspiration.  To mix paint you can buy a little bladed mixing paddle but I use an old Mix Master beater chucked into my variable speed drill.  It is quick easy and doesn't splash paint around when you are mixing.

  It is Monday and has made his customary entry, this week it is home made table saws.  Matthias is an engineer and his work is at a level of precision that I can't imagine matching. 

  The plan is to use Monday as both a round up and a chance to introduce a new site or blog to you each week.  I have the luxury of being about to cruise around the net and see what is out there while you folks are off a work keeping the economy afloat.  The sites will be added to the list of links.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wood Carving, Where Do You Start

     Kari Hultman is very fine woodworker and blogger who's site I have followed for sometime.  She graciously gave me permission to share her most recent blog entry on wood carving.

My Photo

         A few years ago I dabbled with chip carving, it was a quiet, low tech way to play with wood in a house instead of in  an unheated garage workshop.  I also let me get back to wood without spending a fortune on tools.  With chip carving I was reminded how much I like wood, it textures and smell.

two of a set of four coasters, the others are lost to the mists of time.
   Over time I made some coasters and a couple of trivets, they mostly got spread among family.  Now occasionally I use the chip carving and whittling skills I learned on larger projects to add an ornamental touch.  Not as often as I would like, lack of confidence and lack of nerve usually keep me from trying something on a nearly completed project.

   This winter I took some time to practice some carving techniques with the intention of making a couple of plain looking band saw boxes and then adding bling with some relief carving.        ( just don't hold your breath to see the results.  If you read this blog regularly you will know how long it took me to get around to making the box joint jig). Those projects will come, in time, I believe.

  Kari's blog about where to start is very helpful for a beginner wood worker, and also for an experienced woodworker that is letting go of his shop and moving into a smaller space.  Giving up your table saw and your planer doesn't  have to mean giving up wood.  There are lots of clubs for carvers around and they are dead keen to encourage and help me people.  Carving reminds us that there is lots of beautiful things you can do with wood, in a limited space with a tight budget.

Working with wood is good for the mind, the hands and the soul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A cool little Trick

Not everything I do is a wood shop thing. I suspect like me you have a bunch of t-shirts in a drawer.  Properly folded they take up less space.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back to Business

    This weekend was three days filled with diversions, none of which was work shop based.
    First my Grand son and his Dad came to visit for the weekend, Mom was off to Chicago for 3 1/2 days with her friends. I doubt that they had as good a time as we did.
Dad and Keiran
  As well as the boys visiting, we had super weather and with great weather comes the only thing that can compete with the shop.
 Three years ago my Wife gave me my Honda Silverwing Maxi Scooter for my birthday and I have loved every minute that I have spent on it.  Finally the weather is good, the roads are clear and there is no chance of frost or black ice in the corners.  The scooter is back on the road for the season.
 Now is becomes hard to make myself stay in the workshop, unless it is terrible rainy windy weather.
   Don't forget to look in on  He is using the panto router that he featured last week.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Round Up

Hey All,
   This morning I have a series of places for you to check out and the latest stage of the bathroom shelf project.
  First of all, has an entry about a very basic but effective thickness sander, complete with plans.  I know that I have better results working from plans than from my head.

  Second,  I was looking at Roy Underhill's PBS site and watched a very good podcast called The Book Of Sloyd.
 Roy looks at a system of education using woodworking as not only a skill builder but as a character building tool.  It is not your typical woodworking kind of theme but one that we should all be thinking about.  It addresses some of the questions of why the next generation does not do wood work: and how what has happened in our educational system has long term effects. 

  I believe, if you have never worked with your hands you do not understand or appreciate the skills and efforts of those that do. The blog is not trying to preach but I know that unless my grandkids get interested in wood work, my shop will one day be sold for scrap for lack of anyone to use it.