Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twelve Drummers Drumming

  Okay, I am fully in the Christmas Spirit.  My lovely wife is in the kitchen making  Swedish Princess Cake with the Grandchildren, and I spent time this morning making a snow plough truck for Kieran.  It doesn't get more Christmas like than that, we even have a light dusting of beautiful white snow.

   This truck is a variation on one that I made last spring, in this case the snow plough can raise.  The awful blue plastic string is so the truck can be pulled around.  When I asked Kieran if he wanted the truck painted he said," he likes wood colour."

   Getting back to the top of the page, while I am fully in the spirit, no amount of spirit could make me want to see 12 drummers drumming, unless they were "TOP SECRET".

  Now, getting back to the twelve days,

Merry Christmas,
Peace on Earth,
Good Will Towards Men.

My Family wishes your family a safe, healthy and joy filled holiday.

cheers, Ian W

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eleven Pipers Piping

  Maybe the Lords a-leaping are dancing a highland fling?

  The shopping days of Christmas 2013 are winding down.  All my shopping was done a couple of days ago and I am quite pleased too.  It appears that Mother Nature wants us to stay home with our loved ones for a bit too, she has covered us in ice and now the wind is coming up, it could be exciting.


  Stanely FatMax® 6-3/4'' Coping Saw 15-106

    The coping saw, I have a band saw, (two actually) and a jig saw and until recently a scroll saw (a bearings has given out) but I still use my coping saw occasionally.  It is at hand and is good for the quick and dirty little deeds, I find it's greatest virtue is that it will work on things that are very small. 

    The project can be clamped into a vise and the curve cut  where it would be too difficult to hold the object and use a jig saw, and maybe too scary to work that close to the band saw blade.  I won't suggest that you buy the cheapest coping saw, nor is the very expensive one necessary unless you are a hand tool only kind of guy. A middle or the road price and a reputable company should do the job just fine.  In the distant past I was taught to loosen the blade in the frame when not in use.
Bahco 6.5
Bahco is a well know company in Europe that makes quality tools, in Europe.

   Another advantage to the coping saw is that it is a good safe place for little beginning wood workers to start their sawing career.  The saw is light, versatile and easy to control, all good things for beginners.  

Stay Cool,
cheers, Ian W

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ten Lords a Leaping

   Ten Lord's (frogs) a leaping. Let me first go on record as saying the frogs in the back yard pond are not leaping, they are sleeping.  I also suspect that by the tenth day of festivities all but the most youthful and vigorous lords were also sleeping, or at least sitting around with the top button of their lordly trousers undone.
Arrow Heavy Duty Tacker Gun

  For Day 10 I have turned to a tool which falls into the category of personal preference as  much as an objective endorsement.  I can not claim to be objective because I have never used any other heavy duty stapler, the T 50 that I bought 35 years ago is still going strong. The one that I inherited from my father's shop, which came from his father's shop was since been given away to a a good home. Even I couldn't think of a need for two of these work horses.

 This stapler is heavy and requires a gorilla like squeeze, but then it is heavy duty.  It has stapled acres of plastic vapour barrier and  I have used it to attach miles of Christmas lights to parade floats. Aside from those obvious tasks this tool will lay a staple across the back of the mitred picture frame joint adding strength and allowing the glue to dry, all one handed.  I also use short staples in the gun to hold water colour paper to a plywood backer for painting, it will drive a staple into plywood with easy problem.

   This stapler is so solid that you can loan it to people and they can't seem to break it, in spite of their best efforts. It is one of my very few loanable tools.

   A stapler like this will often do the work of a air brad nailer if you are only driving a 1/2 fastener, I've stapled together lots of little boxes with this tool.

   A caveat, since my Arrow T-50 and I have been together for so long and it has been bomb proof,  I have not had need to try the new version to see if it is lighter or easier to squeeze. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ninth Day Of Christmas

Nine Ladies Dancing with the Joy of the Season is a  wonderful image.

  For the Ninth Day I have another of those seldom used but really useful tools.
  The Hammer Drill can cost a little, or a lot.  If you use one now and then spend the money and buy a corded hammer drill like this one from King.
King 1/2-inch Hammer Drill 8309N

   This is a value priced tool, but one that will make putting those curtain rods in that new apartment so much easier.  I put up shelves against a poured concrete wall now and then and sometimes have to drill a hole in a brick wall for a railing or a trellis or....and a hammer drill and Tapcons make the job no stress.

   If you are going to be doing a tonne of work check out the whole spectrum of hammer drills.


Penguin Picture - Grey Penguins

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Seventh Day of Christmas

clearly fowl are a big part of the festive season,
 is there are line about One Turkey Roasting??

Last September I wrote about this little square and it comes around again for Christmas.  This is one of those that  every wood worker would love to have, and that many of us are too cheap top buy for ourselves.   We will make due, mostly because we have a whole bunch of other squares, all of which are too large for the jobs this tools does so very, very well.
4 inch Square by Starrett Co.

   The little square has really come into its own in the last couple of months.  I listed small Squares last August and talked briefly about their uses.
  I went on to say:

f: 4in. sliding square.  I saved this wee square from death by rust.  I found it in the basement of our old house and it was totally a rusted mess, being a sucker for the underdog I set about cleaning it up and found my effort well served.

   I cleaned this square up so long ago that I didn't know what L.S.S. Co. meant and so was not aware of just how good a tool this was.  Why was it a rusted mess?  Damp basement workshop. ( jump to the blog on wire brushes, steel and brass) 

   In the last blog I didn't  go into much detail about how I use it and so I thought I would provide a few more details. 

   Mine is a very old version of the Starrett 13 A Double Square, which only has one blade left and has remained very accurate.  

   Since it is very square I use it often when I make little boxes.  
Starrett 4-inch Double Square w/ Graduated & Beveled Blades 13B
the complete square
   I use this square for making sure that the drill press table is perfectly aligned. (Something that you should check every time you move the table about, I learned this the hard way).

  Another use for this wee square is checking the 90 degree angle on my jointer fence.  I slide the fence forth and back to try and use the entire blade and it is always a good idea to check that it has tighten down square again. 

  This square is also good as a depth stop when setting router bits and table saw blades.  I find that since it is only 4 inches long it does not tip over easily.  

   Last but not least, it is a tidy little lay out tool when working on small projects.  Matching the size of the tool to the job often makes for easier working conditions.

  At the risk of repeating myself, good tools, the right tools and proper planning can make work a joy.

Eighth Day of Christmas

Nail Sets

  The nail set is one of the unsung heroes in the shop.  Much of the time now nails are driven by air power and so often set well below the surface of the wood. (some times too deeply ) But, what do you do if the head of that pesky nails stands a little bit proud of the surface, thereby messy up your beautiful trim?
  The answer, set the nail head below the surface with "A Nail Set", there is a tool for the job.  In fact there are an assortment of tools for the job so check them out.

A  nail set video

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sixth Day of Christmas

  Six geese a-hanging around??

Today's Christmas gift is a wire brush.  There are all sorts of sized and types of wire brushes and they are all useful in a wood working shop.

  This sort of brush gets used in my shop to knock off bark from fire wood that will be re-sawn or turned on the lathe.  I also use both a large and small version of this type of wire brush to clean dirt off barn boards.  Over time dust, dirt and other stuff collects on barn board and I use a wire brush to clear that away before I plane or saw the wood.
Forney 1-1/2'' Shanked Brass Wire Wheel End Brush 60003

  I have used a wire brush like this one chucked in to a hand held drill or my drill press to aid in cleaning up stained metal on tools.  I have a few tools that I've purchased from flea markets or "antique" dealers, elbow grease, bee's wax and serious time with a wire brush has made some of those purchases wise choices.  (some of the purchases, not so wise....)

Forney 6'' Brass Fine-Wire Bench Wheel Brush

   A wheel like this can also help clean up neglected tools.

  I suspect that there are really six different wire brushes to choose from  actually there are six pages of wire brushes to choose from in the toolstore.ca on line catalogue.  You can even use a wire brush to add texture to wood in a wood working shop.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fifth Day of Christmas

  My fifth day of Christmas pays homage to the five versions of the KREG Pocket Hole Jig.  If my count is correct KREG Company is marketing their fifth version of their iconic jig.
Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Kreg Jig 13832
The K 4 is the 5th
    I have one each of the previous two generations of jig, and  use them all the time.  My oldest is not easily adjustable for material thickness, but of course is excellent for 3/4 inch stock and the newer version is the one that I use for all the other dimensions. I used other knock off pocket hole jigs and did not like the result, once you go KREG you will never go back.

   Foot note:

   All you wood working snobs out there that only use mortise and tenons, or biscuits or magic or what ever.   Since it is the holiday season I'll just wish you Merry Christmas and keep on using pocket holes when it serves me best.

Photo: Emperor penguin baby

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fourth Day of Christmas

four calling birds?

four small wood working planes
my oldest block plane with its very basic repair.

   No wood shop is complete without at least one block plane.  I have two, my very old one, that fell on the floor and broke and a newer one.  They are both Stanley  planes, the old one is set for a courser cut and the newer one set for a whisker thin cut.  I also have two small planes, one is a Rabot Kid 24 and the smallest is a "little Victor".  Each of the planes has a place and a purpose, but all of these planes are for fine fitting, not heavy stock removing.

  These small planes, like chisels are work horses that every shop needs to have and to have kept very sharp.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Third Day Of Christmas

  For the third day of Christmas your true love could give to you: needle files.

10 Pc Diamond Needle File Set

  I keep my files in a cigar box and they sit near to my bench all the time.  The files get used to touch up little things on a regular bases, without them I would be steadily  driving myself crazy doing origami with sand paper.

diamond needle files to the left, standard needle files middle pointing down,
needle rasps pointing up, and rifflers of to the right.
You can tell which of the rasps and files get used the most by the various improvised handles.

all in the box, closed.
I did a bit of chip carving on the top, an early effort.

all in open

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Second Day of Christmas

  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me; a really big nasty heavy duty screwdriver. (or a pry bar set)


  This screwdriver has opened countless paint cans as well as been used as a small scale pry bar.  Occasionally  I encounter a slot head screw so large that this screwdriver is the correct tool for the job, but not often.  Having the beast screwdriver has saved my better quality smaller screwdrivers, saving good tools is why you should have a screwdriver/pry bar like this one.

cheers, ianw

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Day Of Christmas


 The Twelve Days of Christmas have a long and glorious tradition, as with all traditions the exact details vary from culture to culture and have often diverged distantly from their ancient beginnings in the modern world.  Diverging is not necessarily a bad thing, I love tradition but will move with the times if I see that as useful.  In this case I have just borrowed "the twelve days of Christmas" as a title, as several other woodworking bloggers, notably Chris Schwartz.

  My theme is shop tools that I turn to regularly and would miss if they were not at hand.  In a home shop where there is wood work and all types of D.I.Y often there needs to be a variety of tools.

  A tool that I turn to regularly is a wire stripper.  It seems I am always repairing a power cord, making a extension cord or repairing a damaged plug end.  We are also replacing the contractor supplied light fixtures in our home one at a time, as we refinish and personalise rooms in our house. (five years and most of the lights have been replaced).
Samona Wire Stripper Automatic 31045

    A wire stripper is not a tool that you absolutely need to do the job, it is just a tool that makes doing the job quicker and easier.  
Gray Tools Wire Cutter/Stripper B140

  Either type of stripper is a bonus tool in your tool box.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chaos Controlled

   I promised that I would share the "after" photos once I got the place cleaned up.  My estimation of an hour or two was a bit optimistic, I am guessing a total of six hours to get the shop into really nice shape.  I not only put everything away I also vacuumed  and made a small effort in the off cut bin. My buddy Ron calls me a wood junkie because I hate to throw away any wood that one day could be useful.

that is the power tool area with everything put away
where if belongs. swept and vacuumed.

  In that back section I have a jointer, planner, table saw, lathe, two band saws and my sanding machine cart. There is a place for everything, and when everything is in its place, all is well.

  There are the benches clear and ready for the next project.  Note:  when I made the higher section for my work table put a couple of quick coats of shellac on the top and then a couple of serious coats of paste wax.  When I went to clean up the top today the lumps of glue came off no problem.  I will reapply wax later today to the top and to the tops of my iron horses. (table saw, jointer, band saw, lathe)

    Here is a look down the length of my shop from the power tool section (the band saw is behind me to the left) to the benches.  You can see on the right side my KREG Klamp Table, and just past it is my JessEm Excel Router Table.

     A couple of years ago I put down foam mats to reduce back pain, I think they help a bit. On the Klamp Table I have a piece of foam I got from a fabric shop for its none marring and anti- slip characteristics.

  The last thing I want to show is my high tech shop safety device.  In the middle of my shop sits the furnace and attached to the furnace is an air exchange unit.  The unit hangs from the ceiling and has about five feet of space below it.  The unit also has very sharp corners.  I was not prepared to lose all that wall space and so I put a couple of storage units in under and against the wall.  My safety device is that sock hanging off the sharp corner, it tickles me before I lift my head high enough to hit the unit and it gets into my vision and keeps me from bumping into that sharp corner.  It sounds silly, but it works.

  A  quick foot note:

   Happy Thanks Giving
 to all my American Brothers.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chaos Theory in the Wood Shop

  I am not a physicist  but I watch "the big band theory" and so have heard as much about chaos theory as most people. Personally I've come to believe that "chaos" is not a theory, and I've got the work shop to prove it.

  The theory that I do have is that small jobs make for more chaos.  I have been carving Christmas ornaments, and doing some small maintenance things recently and my shop is in total and utter chaos.

    That is not a storage area, that is my power tool area.  In making 2 1/2 inch Christmas ornaments I seem to use every tool in the shop.  I have to re-saw the basswood so I use my table saw, band saw, jointer and planner.  Trouble is I am processing wood in small, small lots so I drag the band saw out and run it for a minute, or square up the wood blocks and use the jointer and planner for a minute each.  Knowing that I will be returning to do that again soon, the machines are left out and ready. (filling the floor space).

  This is a sanding station on a rolling cart, usually it is out of the way against the wall. When carving I often step up to this cart and spend less than a minute on one of the machines, so it sits out too.  

  So here are my work benches with knives, chisels, patterns and half complete carvings.  Oh yes, and sanding stuff and a couple of clamps that I needed for a quick repair.  In the background is another small bench piled up with more stuff, including coffee cups and sunflower seeds.  

   When I build furniture I set up a production environment use one machine at a time, finish the task, clear away the tools and move to the next task.  Much more efficient and less chaotic.  

   I am not making excuses, or blaming anyone, I am just showing the state that my shop can get to before I attack the chaos.  I know that the chaos will return but I will fight it.  

  I posted this mostly to show that not everyone is super organized and that there are shops that gradually move toward total chaos, but can be saved from destruction. Tomorrow is a shop day.  This evening I will turn on some music, brew a pot of tea and after an hour or so the place will be unrecognisable. I'll post the photos to prove it can be done.

Tomorrow, the mess will begin again.

P.S.  a couple of years ago Eva and I were in Barcelona and I saw this carvers workshop and bench.  I also the wonderful work that he produced for sale, so from chaos can come good stuff.