Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pruning Saws - Pull Stroke Type

Silky, NATANOKO 2000 XL-Tooth Hand Saw

   As the gardening season continues I find that there is some serious chopping and cutting required in the yard.  We do not grow fruit trees that need special seasonal pruning, but we do have bunch of trees and shrubs that need to be kept under control.  Also we have metres and metres of garden edging, some stone, but some wood.

  The best tool for cutting live wood, or deck boards or garden edging is a saw like the one in the photo. There are many pull saws to choose from and I have been using one for many years.

   I have a traditional bow saw,

Skil Reciprocating Saw Blade Set, 94903

but I like the Japanese style pull saw best for hacking away at garden wood.  There are a couple of reasons that I like these saws, for cutting tree branches they are generally short and easy to handle, but have teeth the full length of the blade.  As well find it easier to brace the tree branch against a stiff arm when pulling on the cutting stroke rather than try to control it on the push.  

  Another use, which is cruel (to the saw) but I have used my pull saw for cutting roots, again small size and teeth to the end of the blade make it a useful tool in that tight situation.  Lastly you can buy a pull saw with very aggressive teeth for a reasonable amount of money and even if you only use it a couple of times a season it is good value.

   Having a saw dedicated to the rough and ready life outdoors also means a good saw is less likely to get pressed into service  and twisted or dulled.  Having the right tool for the job saves time and money in the long run.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boat in Progress

  A sail boat with one mast like the one in the photo is called "Cat Rigged".  These boats are easier for one person to sail and have a special place in many sailor's hearts, mine included. Many,many years ago I was crew on a small racing sail boat and have loved the look and the feel of sail boats ever since.

  For his birthday this year my Grandson asked Opa to make a sail boat.  Oma is making him a cake that looks like Titanic, before the iceberg and I am to make him a sail boat, that he can play with, in the bath tub.  I didn't want to make a boat that was too small and of course it can't be too big. The boat needed to be a good size for tubs, pools and days at the lake.  Not as easy as it sounds.
sail boat hull  with clamps holding the keel on

  I had to make the boat robust enough to stand serious play and it had to be sea worthy. In the process of making this hull I learned a couple of useful things.

  One, spruce is a really poor choice for this type of project, it tears out easily, the upper deck is cedar and way nicer to work with. Two, knots really suck, next hull, clear cedar all the way.

   I cut a channel in the bottom and put in lead weight for ballast. (I saw that done on "Paddle to the Sea")  Initially the hull was too chunky, it looked more like a motor boat than a sail boat so I put in some time with planes and my new favourite tool:
Mora Push Knife
  I picked this up on my recent trip to Sweden, it is from Mora Sweden.  This two handled knife works like a draw knife and comes very, very sharp right out of the package.  I used this knife for heavy stock removal before finishing the hull with planes and sand paper.

  The hull is currently drying, it is getting many coats of paint to make it seaworthy, and tomorrow I have to fit the mast and make the sail. I think that I will make some more boats, so that I can use the skills that I have been learning on this project.

  More photos to follow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fein Sanding

Fein FMM 250Q Select Plus MultiMaster Oscillating Detail Sander Tool Kit 012817410

   Traditionally we look to the Fein Multi-Master as a cutting tool, which it is, and an outstanding one at that.  When we focus on this tool's flush cutting ability we over look some of the other aspects of the Multi-Master and miss opportunities.

  I bought my Multi-Master a couple of years ago after working a cheap clone to death.  The clone's motor was underpowered and in sustained use the body of the tool got so hot that I couldn't hold on to it.  Also the clone did not have dust collection as part of its design.  Sustained use, dust collection, you can see where I am going with this blog.(I hope)

    I admire woodworkers that are "all hand tools, all the time", and while I own and use rasps, planes, scrappers and files I often reach for a power sander.  I suspect that further training and practise would enable me to achieve quality results with hand tools alone, in all situations, but some times there is not enough time.  Early exposure as so plays a part, one of my first power tools was a 3 by 24 inch belt sander that has 100's of hours of work on it and it still runs great.  (it is noisy, and aggressive and has no dust collection, but it does the job).

     Having that machine sanding background I was immediately taken with the possibilities of the oscillating  tool as a sander. I first bought a clone and then found that I had much more work for the tool than the it could handle, thus the melt down.  If you have wood to shape, projects with tight inside corners or just want to sand your way through the grit and saw marks to check out the figure in a piece of wood the Fein does the job in no time. 

   As a bonus Fein has a full spectrum of accessories, though I confess to making my own sanding disks rather than buying original equipment.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Swedish Forest Man

  A river runs through Gavle Sweden and along a portion of the river is a beautiful park featuring rhododendrons, hedges, birch trees and a super play ground for the kiddies.

  Also there is a beautiful lake ,
as well as statuary.  

    For me one of the real features of the park is this fellow.  He stands about 6 feet tall and is sitting there with a knowing look, while resting from playing his fiddle.  "Fiddle Man" is a chain saw carving of significant  age and wonderful patina.  I expect that a bronze statue would last longer, but a wooden statue ages and develops personality in a way concrete or bronze can not.  I am just a fan of wood.

  As foot note, Gavle is far enough north that one can currently read the newspaper outside all day and night.  The sun sets but is so close to the horizon that it is quite bright all night.  Night such as it is sunset 10:30 pm sunrise 3:30 am.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Folding Rule at Jula Hardware in Gavle Sweden

  Jula part of a chain of tool stores in Sweden sort of like Canadian Tire at home in Canada.  Jula stocks sporting goods, car and scooter parts as well as paint, tools etc.  I always wonder through the tools sections of store when I travel because I am always interested to see what other folks use in their lives.  Eva likes to walk through grocery stores for the same reason.

  As I walked through Jula something that really stuck me was how many folding rules there were and how few tape measures. There were at least a dozen folding rulers of different lengths, makes and qualities were there were three tape measures, one insanely expensive, one tiny and one eight footer that was fairly cheap quality.

  The ruler in the photo is 1 metre long, divided into ten sections and cost $1.50 or 10 Swedish Crowns.  

  Over dinner we tried to decide why the Swedes use folding rulers instead of tape measures.  Needless to say all ideas were just speculation, the folding rulers are very light, much lighter than a good quality tape measure but we really couldn't think of another reason that a ruler would be better.
But clearly the folding ruler is the choice of working Swedes.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why Wood, again

  At this moment  I am looking out over the harbour on Gamla Stan Island, the island that makes up a large portion of old Stockholm.  It is 4am, the water is mirror smooth and the sun is up. The days are quite long here now, the sun sets sort of around 2 am and is fully up by 4 am.

  Sweden is a seafaring nation and Stockholm is its capital and I suspect largest port. Over the last few days we've watched dozen of boats ply the waters outside of our windows.  There have been navy ships and cruise ships and ferries that travel to other outer islands.  Yesterday morning we went on a cruise around the old canals of Stockholm and saw house boats, some of them two story as well as hundreds of small personal boats.  We were told that one in every seven Swedes own and operate a boat.
Swedish house boats, lovely in summer, do they live here in the winter too?

   Many of the small boats we saw were fibreglass but many of them were wood.  At a rough guess I would have said 2 or 3% of the small boats were wood.

   As we travelled through the canals on a tour we was dozens of wooden boats of all sorts.

   This is a typical private wooden boat.  The design owes much to the dory, these boats are lapstrake hulls and pointed at both ends.  I saw this hull shape used in open boats with both motor and sail and in various sizes from 15 feet to close to 40 feet.  A good wooden boat that is well cared for can last for 100 years, fibreglass will not last half that long and requires more maintenance  that people realize.  Wood is great stuff.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More Off cuts

  In a previous post I said I hated wasting wood.  My buddy Ron calls me wood junkie, I save every piece of wood that I can imagine a use for some day.  Often that thrift pays off, but the penalty is a shop, basement, garage and back yard that is storing wood, all sorts of sizes and types.

  When I make cutting boards I end up ripping many board feet of oak, maple and birch into thin strips, that means lots of long narrow off cuts.  Which ultimately means a bin of thin slats of nice wood, with no real purpose.  Finally some of those slats have found purpose, I made the vise rack jig with a hand full and I made a bundle of book markers with some more and....
my latest brain wave is a woven oak mat/trivet for our granite counter top. I cringe every time I but a hot casserole dish or pie plate on the counter top, hard ceramic vs. granite always makes me wonder who will win and who will crack.  (no real fear for the granite, no real interest in having to clean up the mess.)

   We have several large cutting boards that are used on the counter but the are heavy to move with one hand.  My solution is an woven oak mat.  The pieces are about an inch wide and about 1/32 think.  All the pieces were longer than necessary and cut down once the glue set.  This was a great little project to work on.  I wove it together on evening, showed it to my wife another, she thought it was good idea, next I did some sanding, then some glueing and clamping and then cut the ends off.  This probably floated around in my shop for two weeks before I finished it with sealer last night.  
   Now that I have a method I think I will make a couple more, everyone has a counter that they'd like to protect.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rack-Stop for your vise

    Plagiarism  is the sincerest form of flattery, or so it is said.  In the wood shop it is pretty difficult to come up with a totally new idea, after all man has been making stuff out of wood for thousands of years, think of old Noah, now that was a wood working project.  What a person or a company can do is refine, re-design and sometimes market their incarnation of a useful shop accessory.

rack stop

   If you subscribe to you have seen versions of the jig, it is used as a spacer on the other side of your bench vise to keep the faces in alignment so that you get equal clamping.  I saw a version on made with walnut, it was a work of art.  Lee Valley is selling a version made mostly with plastic for $13.00 in their resent catalogue. 
  I don't like wasting wood, even little pieces and I do hate plastic.  My rack stop is make from off cuts, lightly sanded and held together with copper wire with little twisty pig tails at both ends,-cost $0.00. (and a little bit of time, a very little bit)  In fact it took longer to type this blog then it did to make the jig.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fenner Drive Link Belt

  How many machines in your shop are run by a V-belt? In mine, there is a planner, a joiner, a sander, a small drill press, not my table saw and my large drill press uses flat belts.  I am pretty sure that my band saws use belt drive, though I bought them assembled so I don't know for sure.   What that means is lots of belts in various lengths that are wearing out in the heat and the dust.

Fenner Drive 3/8 inch Link V Belt Power Twist Plus per Foot
Fenner Drive link belt

   The photo above shows my solution to replacing drive belts.  The Fenner Drive link belt is an easy solution to replacement belt blues.  These belts run very smoothly, are super easy to adjust for length and should last a very long time.  I'll keep you posted on the service life of these belts, that means you'll have to keep reading the blog for years to come.

   The first thing I replaced was the v-belt in my small drill press.  I use the drill press as a sander now and the smell of cooking drive belt was getting to be a real concern.  It looked as though the belt was soon going to give out part way through a project, so I did some preventative maintenance.

home made  disc sander with dead belt.

back in action
The home made sander/grinder has been laid up for a couple of years.  The belt was totally worn out, I couldn't use the sander because of the little bits of black rubber that were being thrown in my face. (hot black rubber)  My problem was that the bearings and shaft that the belt turned are a sealed one piece unit.  My Grandfather is not around to explain to me how me built it, where the parts came from or how to replace the belt.  Solution; Fenner drive link belt.   I cut the old belt off and threaded the Fenner belt though and put it together.  Now I have my rough grinding stone and 8in. rough disc sander back in business.

   I know the belting is more expensive than standard belts, but I felt it was worth it for the ease of adjustment, smoothness and durability and in the case of the sander it was the only solution.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Fein Solution

   I have a Fein shop vacuum that I have used for several years and think is an excellent tool.  I like that it is quiet (as shop vacs go) and that it has a switch that allows the tool being used to turn  the vac off and on.  A great feature when doing a bunch of sanding.

  I don't think it is possible to over estimate how important dust collection and shop vacuums are to a wood worker.  If you don't vacuum the shop regularly a layer of dust gets on everything. If the dust is there just walking through the shop stirs it up and the dust gets on your finishes as they dry.  As well, fine dust has a long term negative effect on breathing and lungs, something not to be ignored.

  The only short-coming I ever found with my shop-vac was the small diameter of the vacuum hose meant that when I was cleaning up my shop I would often have a splinter or a curl of wood from planning jam the hose.  Then I would have to figure out how to clear the obstruction, for a time I had an eight foot piece of quarter round that I used as a cleaning rod, but then I got creative.
   I replaced the standard hose with 2 1/2in dust collection hose.  It needed an adapter to fit so I made one from M.D.F. using my hole saws to cut out the sections. 

  The shop vac doesn't have nearly as powerful a vacuum force since the hose is so much larger but it is still strong enough to pick up saw dust and shavings.  I feel that the trade off has been worth it, since it doesn't get plugged any more when I am cleaning up.

   By nature I am not patient, so having the vacuum hose get plugged up in use was a real pain in the neck.  This simple modification, though long over due has been a real time saver.  I still have the other hose available to use though I haven't gone back for it once, the extra vacuum pressure the smaller  hose supplies hasn't been missed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shop Safety ??

   Check out for more wood funnies.  Thanks to Steve at for showing Wood Laughs on his site.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Silly Work Shop Ideas

   Father's Day is coming and Yankee Candle company is taking advantage of the fact that our wives and children usually don't know what to get to give us to celebrate the occasion.  It's not that they don't love us, it's just that they don't know what we really want, although their experience has shown that neck ties are not it.

   Wives and daughters generally like candles and have enabled this company to build an empire from products that men think are only needed when the electricity goes out.  It isn't a surprise that the clever folks at Yankee Candle would now have "Man Candles"

  I have the 2 by 4 scent,  the other scents didn't appeal to me, nor did I recognize them.  First Down, shouldn't it smell like sweat and A-535?

  This weekend is being spend with the little granddaughter, mostly I am just here for her to climb on, I guess the only available wood smell will be from Yankee Candle.  I would give up the workshop before I gave up the grand daughter.