Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Tools, from the Wooden Hinge Blog

Footprint GAUGE, MARKING BEECHWOOD 010296200

   If you do not have a marking gauge this is perfectly decent tool with which to experiment.  The price is good and the tool is basic, it uses a pin to scribe the line instead of a mini knife blade which does not sheer as well but is easier to set and sharpen.  There are nicer looking gauges out there, gauges made from exotic wood, or with multiple blades for marking tenons in one go but this one will get you started.  Not only that if you do decide to spent 2 or 3 times as much money on another gauge, keep the expensive one for really fine work and use this one on rough lumber.  I now wonder why it took me so long to discover the value of these tools.

Irwin Marples 4-pc Wood Chisel Set M444S4N

 These are not great chisels, you can't get great chisels for  cheap, really good chisels cost $50.00+ each.  However, you should not need to buy good chisels more than once or twice in your life if you are a typical woodworker. 

   Why buy cheaper chisels?  They are the ones upon which you practice sharpening until you find the system that works for you.  These chisels will let you know if you have learned how to  sharpen, they just won't stay sharp for very long. Generally the quality of steel and care in tempering is directly related to the price you pay.  These chisels are the ones you lend to other people, or that you use to hack out a mortise when building a deck.

   A foot note regarding chisels.  I have bought a couple of very, very nice old chisels in flea markets.  My rule is not to spend more than $10.00 unless the chisel is in great shape. I've purchased a couple of chisels for very cheap that still have good steel left in them, and I also bought a couple were all the good steel has been ground away, or maybe they were just crap from day one.  Frankly, I find the thrill of of gambling on an old tool way more rewarding than buying a lottery ticket.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wooden Hinge Practise

    Last blog I showed a small wooden spoon that I'd made and explained that it was a practise project, a small project to help me develop my skills with knives and chisels and sharpening.

  This is a similar project.  I have made a bunch of cutting boards lately and felt that I needed to try some new things before cutting and gluing up another batch of boards. You see in the photo a box joint, the wood is 3/4 pine and I decided it was just as easy to cut the joint on the band saw as to try and make a router based jig for something this large. Some careful marking and equally careful cutting and the box joint turned out tight and square.

   These are a couple of the marking tools that I used to layout the joint.  I have come to appreciate the marking gauge more as I work with it and improve my understanding of its quirks or is it understanding my quirks?

saddle square and marking gauge

  The next step was turning the box joint into a hinge.
Below is the finished hinge.  I rounded it by eye using the bench disk sander and then chisels. If I were planning to use this hinge on something nice I would still have fine sanding and finishing to do.  In this case I doubt if the hinge will see actual use, it was a practice piece. 

  The major challenge turned out to be drilling the 1/8 hole for the brass rod, I discovered that I didn't have a drill bit long enough to drill completely through the length of the hinge.  I drilled through from both ends and things kind of met in the middle since the drill bit drifted when I started it . There are a couple of lessons learned: one, time to sharpen, or replace some drill bits, two:  be sure to punch a good starting point so the bit will be less likely to wonder as you begin to drill. And most importantly be sure you have the tools necessary to complete the job before you start.

  In the back of my mind I have a plan for a box with some carved wooden hinges, I figured I needed to develop the hinge making part of the project before I spent time on the carving part.  It is best not to put the cart before the horse.

   This and the spoon are projects that require a level of care and precision  that I need to practise until it becomes second nature.  A greater level of precision will enable finer quality results, I've worked on finishing and it is getting better so I believe an old dog can learn new tricks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oak Spoon

   Occasionally I go down to my work shop with a project in mind but sometimes I go to the workshop and make things just for the heck of it.  There is little practical use for the small wooden spoon and you can certainly buy as nice a spoon from the local $ store.(but not in oak) ( remember when the Dollar store was the 5 and 10 store?).

    The motivation for this project was not totally frivolous, in fact, I had decided to work on my 3D shaping and design.  Wood doesn't have to be flat and square all the time,  I see work done by other people incorporating sweeping curves and interesting angles and I want to include those things in my work too. Doing that sort of work requires new skills and techniques, I choose a spoon is a small practice piece.

Oak spoon carved by hand and machine.

these and some needle files were the "by hand" tools.

this was the" by machine" tool

During this project I learned a number of important things:

1.Next time use pine or basswood, oak is really hard.

2. Leave the handle long until the very end, it gives something to clamp to the bench or hold.

3. Sharp, sharp, sharp tools are key.

4. Shaping wood is as enjoyable, or maybe more enjoyable than squaring wood but is more difficult.  I need to learn to think in three dimensions. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

V Groove Chisel

    This is a small selection of wood carving chisels, these are gouges and a V groove gouge.  If I have to explain that the chisel on the far right is the V groove you probably don't have much interest in this blog.

    For a chisel to be at its best it needs to be sharp, really really sharp. (scary sharp)  I have played at wood carving on and off for a couple of years but getting the tools sharp was always one of the biggest challenges, that and lack of artistic vision.  Happily I have learned to sharpen most chisels, pretty well, but the one that still causes me grief is the V gouge.

   Below is a link to a video that provides answers to some of the difficulties faced when sharpening that very important and often used chisel.

   As much and all as the computer regularly drives me to swear and scream, the internet has some very useful information.  The idea that you slightly round the bottom of the V is a revelation.
   Go to this link to see some of the available machines to help you sharpen your tools.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Slam,door that is.

two very good reasons to do the things I do.
  Those of you that have been looking in on this blog for a while know that I have Grandson, Kieran and a Granddaughter, Clara.  Kieran is a going concern and Clara is just starting to walk.  It is fun and wondrous to watch them develop, as well as observers, our job as their  big people is to see that their passage though life is as safe and joyful as we can make it. 
 Our house is pretty good. I made gates to block the stairways and we've moved the breakables to adult heights. One thing that we'd not done last year was deal with the slamming outside doors.   In our place if the patio door is open there is a wind tunnel effect that makes the garage door slam heavily.  
  That slamming created two worries for me this season,
one: the door knob is at Grand kid head height and I really don't want them knocked on their butts on my watch,
two, that door slams hard enough to really hurt a little person's hand.  Last year K and C weren't independent enough to open the garage door, this year, I think K will be ready to explore and open more doors by himself.  

   I went in search of a safe solution
metal clad, foam core door, pretty heavy by itself, a crusher when blown by
the south to north winds we experience.
Ideal Storm Door Slammer, actually anti-slammer, my solution.

  It took a bit of adjusting (if you look closely I didn't drill the   one set of holes in the right place the first time) but now the door does not slam shut, little fingers will be safe. And I hated it when the door slammed shut with a mighty crash, it shook  the whole place. (besides a slamming door is just an unfriendly sound)  So this D.I.Y job paid double dividends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cape Cod, dory

  In November 2010 Eva and I went to Stockholm Sweden and after that trip I posted a photo of a lapstrake dory as it was being built.  The boat was going to be a new copy of a design that goes back for 100s of year. blog entry 1/31/11

   Today Eva took my picture in the back of the Cape Cod Maritime Museum beside a very tattered Cape Cod dory.  This sad old boat had five oar locks and I would like to think it had had a good life on the sea.
  You can see from the photo of the inside, it is a mess. In fact the planks have split apart at both ends of the boat.  None the less it is holding its shape and the difference between this dory and a modern tupperware boat is that this boat could be repaired.  In spite of the terrible condition, planks can replaced and rot rooted out. The old paint can be scraped off and...this pile of lumber could be a boat again. Not only that, the repairs could be done with basic tools and average skills, because the man that designed and launched this boat used a time tested design and a superb material, wood.  If this were a fibre glass boat it would have collapsed into a heap that was not recognizable, long ago.

   I doubt that the dory will be restored, I am a realist not a romantic, however I do take comfort it knowing that it could be restored. Another reason why I like wood.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wood - Chips - Wood Chips

  There are many things that make wood a wonderful material with which to work among these things, is its smell, it is locally produced and it is never really useless.  It is maybe the perfect recyclable product.  In our driveway you see the last stage in the life of a tree, and, no all those wood chips didn't come from my shop.

   Since we live in a very urban part of the country there are many tree service companies keeping the tree branches out of our utility wire and cutting down the big ol' trees that have lived out their lives.  These chips end up as compost some place or as wood chips in people's gardens.  This load will be spread around our's and our neighbour's gardens to help hold the weeds down and over time, lighten the heavy clay soil in our yard.

   Even as chips for the garden wood is nice to work with, this pile smells really good, there must be some cedar or juniper in the mix and also has almost no green wood.  Getting your chips before the growing season is in full bloom means fewer leaves and drier wood.

Davey Tree dropped off our chips, no charge,  my favourite price.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pie Iron

Pie Iron:

Rome Cast Iron R1805 Round Pudgy Pie Iron

In the very olden times, I was a Boy Scout.  In those olden times we camped under canvas, (I hated that part) and cooked over open fires at the Scout Camp, (I liked that part) and after we fried,or boiled or burned whatever was on the menu, we got to eat PIE.  Pie was white bread smeared with cheap jam and baked in a pie iron over the fire.  I do remember that as being fun.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flower Boxes, another reason to love Wood

  I started back into wood working about 10 years ago.  One of my first big projects was to replace the plastic flower pots and window boxes at our house.   It was my belief that a wood worker and wood lover should use wood when ever possible, and certainly flower boxes look better in wood.

  Today, ten years later I stained three cedar flower boxes on my kids deck.  The boxes are some of my very earliest projects.  At the time I went to the local builders supply and bought a bunch of cedar fence boards, cut them up and hammered them together.  It is interested to see these boxes now, I hadn't even sanded the mill marks off of the boards, and the joinery is butt joints all the way.  You know what, crude but effective.
flower box, about 12 x 12 x 10, with a great big nasty pitch streak.

some thing, longer legs, not as terrible a piece of wood
  These flower boxes have lived outside in the snow, rain and burning sun for many years longer than any of their plastic friends have.  I basically slopped a heavy coat of Watco onto these boxes, knowing that Watco danish oil is recommended for indoor use. My experience has been that nearly every stain or finish suffers heavily in the sun, so I picked a colour I liked that was easy to apply. At least this way it won't be another ten years before the boxes get stained again.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spots before My Eyes

  There is a church yard sale coming up shortly and it will be invaded by dinosaurs!!!! Fortunately  for all of us they are only four or five inches tall, even the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.  I stand by the colouring as authentic, while many science types have other ideas about the colouring of dinosaurs, I am inclined to the fun and artistic point of view vs. the pretend science point of view.  After all.....we really don't know what colour they were.  

   The dinosaurs are painted with craft paint and the spots are put on with a stamp made from a wine bottle cork.  I like the cork 'cause it is cheap and easy to clean or replace.  Over the course of the last few years I have made dozens of these dinosaur puzzles, the basic shape is traced on 3/4 pine and then cut with a scroll saw.  All the puzzle cutting is done free style, making each puzzle one of a kind.

  The scroll saw as one of the first tools I bought when I decided to get back into playing with wood 10 years ago.  Little did I know at the time the depth of addiction to which I would descend, I still think it is more fun and more useful than spending every afternoon playing bingo.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dowel Jig

  Dowels have been used in wood working since forever.  Dowels were used long before nails and screws were invented and so have been a part of wood working, ship building, barn raising and stockade construction for a very, very long time.
  With a advent of cheap nails and cheap wood screws the dowel is not as important to the wood trades as it once was, in fact there are people that never use dowels at all any more.
  This blog entry will be on little interest to the none dowel folks, but, read on you may find it interesting.

  Lets talk about dowels and their jigs:

 Miller Dowel System is the dowel as it would be recognized by our ancient brother craftsmen.  The Miller dowel is designed to be driven into a bored hole, like a nail, only it is nicer to look at.  I've used Miller Dowels to hold the replacement top on my rolling work bench.  That way I know that it is solidly attached, and....there is nothing there that can hurt my edge tools.

  Typically we now think of dowels as a way to attach two pieces of wood and keep the joinery hidden.  There is a spectrum of available dowel jigs designed to make hidden joinery easier.

   Beginning at the very high end of that grouping is the Dowel Max system.  It is very good and very, very expensive.  I have used it, but don't own one.
Dowelmax Kit Contents

  Joint-Genie comes from England and is a finely finished tool and one with which I have worked, with mixed results.  I know that the problem was me, not the tool.

Joint Genie Craftsman Dowelling Tool

  JessEm makes the Dowel Jig that I turn to now. It is easy to work with, accurate and priced realistically. 
Jessem 08300 Dowel Drilling Jig 08300

   A self centering Dowel Jig  like this one made by Black Jack has the feature of enabling you to drill the dowel hole exactly in the middle of the board. Dowel Centers  are almost a necessity  to be able to get the other alignment correct.  I have used the jig many times in the past to enable me to drill holes exactly  in the centre of a board's edge, not usually for dowel applications.

BlackJack Dowel JIg Self Centering

   There a several other dowel jigs out there, ones made by Wolfcraft and General Tool to name just two. 

    It is important to remember that you can't get a good tool for cheap and no tool enables sloppy workmen to do quality work.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Finished Projects from Blacksmith course

This was the last of my projects from my days at Forgedlink. It is a coffee spoon I made for my wife.  It started out as a piece of round stainless steel and after hours of hammering it turned into sort of a spoon.  It would not have turned into anything I Daniel hadn't of saved me from myself many times, as it was it took 5 times longer to make with I involved in the process.

This as the first project. It is a file that I turned into a marking knife, you can't see it but I also punched out a hole in the handle by heating the metal and driving a punch through.  It was pretty interesting and now that the scale is cleared off and it is sharpen, it is very very sharp.  And I am very pleased. The handle is oak, soaked with walnut aniline dye suspended in wood alcohol.  I find that the dry soaks in well and still dries fairly quickly.