Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bessey Duo Clamp

Bessey Duo Clamp

Bessey DUO30-8 12-inch DuoKlamp One Hand Clamp/Spreader

   On the weekend I went to the Hamilton Woodworking Show and nosed around to see what was new, nor at least interesting.  Since being diagnosed as diabetic I have tried to reduce my raw sugar intake and so I gave the Oh Fudge lady a pass but wondered by the Bessey Booth.  I have gone on record as a big fan if Bessey products, and own a whole bunch of their clamps, but always want more.

  My newest love is the Bessey Duo clamp.  I got a couple of these clamps from the Tegs Tools booth and they are my new favourite clamp, for a couple of reasons, the squeeze/pound ratio is very good do not have to take it apart to use it as a spreader clamp.

  As you can see I am holding the camera with one hand and talking with the other.  I don't do many videos so my technique is pretty poor, but I hope you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Tool Expo

Just a quick reminder that next Friday and Saturday February 1st and 2nd is the:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tool Box, again.

  I suspect that the quest for the perfect tool box/chest is only surpassed by the quest for the perfect work bench, and maybe the Holy Grail. Or is the perfect bench, the Holy Grail.  Over the last couple of years I have written about both topics several times, I have shared my ideas and ideas that I have collected from around the world on the internet.

   I have come to an important conclusion about both benches and tool chests.  There is no perfect version, every time you change the type of shop projects you do, you no longer have the "perfect", the perfect set of tools, bench and tool box for making furniture is quite different for the ones needed for carving or making jewelry boxes.  In some cases, like large scale scroll saw projects seating comfort and lighting is very important, and a person that only works in a shop doesn't need to move their tools about, so cabinets and shelves are all that are needed for storage.  A woodworker/carpenter that gets involved in on site renovations needs to have a portable tool box and something like a workmate for their bench.  Thus the quest is unending.

   On my current to-do list is to make a tool box for my wife's stained glass tools and incomplete projects.  

modern stained glass window in Cologne Cathedral, not made by my wife. 
She is taking lessons locally and now needs a way to get her tools and projects forth and back to the studio. 

 Now these aren't even woodworking tools but they need a tool box.  Many years ago  I made my Mother a box for her to carry her art supplies forth and back to her lessons, that box was a great success and is still used.  The tool box that I traveled from apartment to apartment with is still kicking around, but the worse for wear but survives none the less.

   History has taught me that if I get the design right, it can really have a long life. I am going to start with a basic woodworkers tool box and then make some adjustments in the design,I think.

the standard carpenters tool tote, I have one, don't you?

  Some of the basic changes need to be reducing the weight of the box, glass is heavy to carry.  Since the box won't get battered around on a job site it will not have to be made from 3/4 stock with a beefy bottom and feet to keep in out of the wet, 1/2 poplar will be more that up to the task.  The other thing that I'll need to do is make a couple of slots in which to stand the glass projects and their frames. The slots will have to be on either side of the handle to keep the box from being awkwardly unbalanced.
 04-FS-103 - Attache Case Woodworking Plan.
   Another possible twist is the wooden briefcase where the glass projects can lay down to be carried.  The problem is of course, this has a limited maximum size, but it does look cool.   Maybe I need one for my carving tools, or my laptop. ( you know, it my free time in the shop).

   There are tonnes of commercially available tool boxes out there and I will look carefully at them too, but either way the first step is to identify exactly what characteristics the tool box absolutely must have before you begin to execute the design or put your money down at the store. And then live with the reality that the specialty tool box will only really work in its specialty situation.

   I was nice to be off for a week, but it is good to be getting back to home base, I should be back in the shop tomorrow, bright and early.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Center Finding Jig

   Often when we make a jig for our shop it is a fairly large item, used for large scale projects.  Recently I have been doing more wood carving, for me these are small projects, I know that some folks do huge chainsaw carvings and life sized statues, but my stuff is small.

sometimes very small
  One of the things that you should do when carving is mark the center of your block of wood, marking it helps you keep your  carving from getting lop sided as you cut away the bulk of the wood before you get into the details.  That center mark also makes it easy to drill a hole in the project to mount it on a base.  In fact some carvers drill a hole in the center and insert a dowel right at the start to use as a handle when carving and painting. 
  (a good idea that I plan to adopt in the future) 

    We all know the easy way to find the center of a square or rectangular wood block but getting the center of a round, or mostly round piece can be a bit trickier. Crossed lines and compasses can be used but a center finding jig is easier.

  This jig is about 3" by 4" and made from the scrap box, the 45 degree pieces are 2 by 4 and the upright is elm.  I made this small jig because I want it to live in the drawer with my carving tools and bits of wood, and not take up too much space.  A large sized jig that would accommodate big pieces for lathe work would take up space in the shop and would not get used often enough to be worth the space.  Should the time come when I am looking for the center point of pieces that are 5 inches in diameter, I'll make a larger jig.

  The dowel/piece lays in nicely and the line marks the end accurately.   This photo make it look slightly out of alignment but I've used it and it works.  The next time I have paint out for a project I will paint it a bright, obvious colour so that it is easy to find in the clutter that seems always to be my work space.

  This is another example of the K.I.S.S. philosophy.  Those of you, like me with impressionable grand children call the system Keep It Simple, Silly.

   Another footnote:  check out the DVD clearance at . A good movie is always a nice way to spend a cold winter evening.   


Thursday, January 17, 2013

T-Square Jig

Dowel Jig T-Square:

  This is an excellent jig that doesn't take a tonne of time to build and makes your auto-centering dowel jig much more useful.  It moves it from the edge of your lumber to the face and so makes shelving alignment easier.  This T-Square will also make it easier for you to use your dowel jig as a drill guide when your project will not fit on your drill press. Double bonus points!
BlackJack Dowel JIg Self Centering
Black Jack Self Centering Dowel jig
  How often do you see something like this T-Square Jig and say to yourself, why didn't I think of that?  It is a great idea, and when I get back from holiday I am going to make one.  Books, workshops and the internet save us from having to re-invent the wheel when someone out there already has done it for us. 

p.s. look in tomorrow, I have one more quick and easy jig for you before I take my week off.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dutch Tool Chest

   I don't know if it is hero worship or if I am a stalker.  Once again here is a video from Christ Schwarz, the production quality of his videos is very high, and I like the music he picks too.

  And of course I think the tool chest is great.

     This is the link to another really good tool chest, and a producer of great videos and great projects. (and great music, do these things go hand in hand?)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Toy Truck

Two boards and a storage bin.

  When you reorganize your shop and buy new bins keep the old ones and recycle (up cycle) them into mini trucks.  
  I wood burned the window frame and grill on and then hit the whole thing with a fast coat of shellac.  The whole project didn't take much time and cost about $3.00 to make, I bought a bunch of bins on clearance and the wheels have been laying around for years.
  One of the great things about little homemade toys like this is, no batteries, and since it was cheap to make no one stresses out when the dog eats it.  Toys are not supposed to create stress, they are supposed to create fun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Basic Lesson, well taught.

  I taught elementary school for fourteen years, half a life time ago, or maybe in a previous life.  But I did teach and to this day I admire people that are good instructors.  In woodworking there are often people that can do wonderful work but can't teach or explain to save their lives.  Luckily we have some very good people giving demonstrations at wood shows and in store promotions, and we have the internet.  It is common for me to stomp and swear about my computer, printer, phone, camera, whatever, in the course of my week but....I would really miss having access to all the great available material on the net.

    How to sharpen a pencil! How many times has our work been effected by our use of a dull pencil?  If you are framing a house, the width of the pencil line is not critical, if you are marking dove tails, the width of the pencil is the different between a jewelry box and a junk box for misc. screws. 

  Take a look at this carefully planned, well produced video on "How to sharpen a Pencil".  Wouldn't it be great if all the instructors you encountered in life were this good!!

Insta-Mark, Mechanical Carpenter Pencil

   This style of pencil is a good idea, but you still need to touch up the tip with a chisel if you plan to make fine lines.  I usually have a couple of these flat "carpenter's pencils" kicking around my shop.  I have one that I glued sand paper to so I could reach into a tight spot one time and in a pinch one of these can be used as a push stick.  The bottom line however, the pencil has to be sharp and paring it with a chisel really does a good job.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Buy your Kids good tools

   A couple of years ago my Toronto Kids bought a house,  a few years before that our Swedish Kids, (still lived here) and they bought a house.  Even if you are not tool inclined, if you have a house you needs some tools. 

  The Swedish kids now have a house in Sweden.  Sadly none of their Canadian tools will work on 220 volt Swedish power but  they learned the value of quality tools and are building their collection of tools up once again.

just in case you didn't know where Sweden is. They live half way up on the east coast.

   Our Toronto kids have good tools, when they bought the house, (that needed work) I started buying then decent tools.  It turns out that the major reason that you should buy your kids decent tools is because you may well find yourself using them one day, as I have on several occasions. 

                               Makita LXT429 18V Cordless Tool 4pc Combo Kit

   Don't bother with the set of tools that has a flashlight, get TOOLS, a saw or two and a good drill.  I suggest that you stay with a major tool lines so that you will be able to get new batteries down the road and maybe add a jig saw, or a planer, or a small shop vac at some point. *

      My next trip to Sweden will no doubt find me at their tool store, Biltema and involve adding to their tool collection.  I am less likely to be using those tools, for lots of reason, but they need have good tools none the less. Biltema is their

    Trust me on this one, it is difficult enough to be working on a project out side of your shop, you don't need to add to the challenge with poor tools.  Besides, you love your kids, give them good tools.

* foot note:  I don't have an impact driver and so far haven't missed it but lots of folks couldn't live without theirs.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Woven Oak

  I make many projects from oak and so often have bits pieces and off cuts laying around.  Also I get an oak board with a serious twist or knot in it and instead of putting it in the fire, I save it for a future project.
  Recently I culled through my rejects pile and decided to make another trivet.  I made one like this last summer but it was a prototype so I didn't sand or finish it properly.  Eva decided that this was a good design and so early in the week I set the table saw up to rip some thin slices off my boards and arrived at this:
9 x 16 in woven oak trivet.

    The whole thing was glued and clamped in stages and then finished with amber shellac.  It certainly in not a difficult job, just on that requires patience since it takes about four sessions of glue and clamping to get it done.

Freud 10'' Thin Kerf 24 Tooth Rip Blade LU87R010

  To do a job like this, I used my table saw with a Freud thin rip blade.  I have been very happy with these blades, I have two because I have to send them away for a week to get them sharpened.  I get the blades sharpened once a year and so far each blade has been sharpened twice, they had stood the test of time and cut miles of oak and elm.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1st 2013


  I have been writing three blogs a week since the end of January 2011, three hundred ten posts in all.  I certainly can't claim to have created all the entries from scratch,  I own a debt of gratitude to many other great woodworkers and blogger for their shared material and their inspiration.  Over the course of these two years I have only been ignored/rebuffed by one fellow blogger and been encouraged my many.  When I find something out on the net I am careful to give credit were credit is due, it is my feeling that if an idea or trick is posted to the world, the person posting it expects it to be shared around but absolutely deserves credit for their idea, effort  and work.

  In two years I have reviewed and commented on a variety of tools and workshop books.  My policy of promoting things that I found to be good and ignoring things that disappointed me has been maintained, I don't think anyone really wants to listen to a rant about a poor quality tool.

  An ongoing theme has been, use the right tool, properly and your results will improve.  I still think that we have done ourselves and our economy a disservice by obsessively looking for the "best deal", (cheapest version).  I have some tools that I will never wear out because they are good quality tools that cost serious money when purchased, but have paid for themselves many times over.  I think of my Stanley block plane as an example, I reached for it yesterday and it did the job the way it has always done the job. It was one of the first decent tools that I bought 35 years ago, and it is still going strong.
Stanley Block Plane 12-220
mine old plane is brown, not black and one of the cheeks
is broken off  after being dropped on the shop floor.

   It is customary to either look back or look ahead on this day. I generally don't do much that is customary but in this case, I predict this will be the "workshop year of the fish":

  This wee fish is my version of a Japanese netsuke. I recently finished reading "The Hare with the Amber Eyes" by Edmund De Waal, and was impressed with the book and very taken with the Netsuke as carving projects.  2013 is going to be a year with time spend on carving and small projects, I am also going to try and knock off a "bucket list" project or two, the list keeps getting longer and I am not getting younger so I need to get working.  has been a good sponsor and I look forward to another productive year, my shop continues to evolve and I still have all my fingers, all good things with which to begin a new year.

  Best New Year wishes to you all, and blog to you later.