Saturday, March 29, 2014

Build a Desk Organizer

Build a Desk Organizer. (or a wood bench organizer)

  I have spent the last couple of days away on a short trip to Niagara Falls Ontario.  Eva and I wondered about wine country, had a great dinner and relaxed at a nice hotel for over night.  This is all offered as a preamble to the fact that for two days I have made no saw dust whatever.

  Even though I was not working in the shop I have been checking out my favourite woodworking blogs and I found this one.

   Sometimes the blogs are hand tools, this one is power to the people. Brian does use a block plane to clear up the extra width the jointer leaves, a good idea. But everything else is:
table saw,  jointer, planer, router for the floating tenons.  I think I would use my JessEm Pocket Zip Slot  for the tenons. The pocket Zip Slot is quick, easy and fits in a nice box out of the way when don't need it.

 cheers, ianw

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hard Point Handsaw

  I have talked specifically about this type of hand saw in a couple of previous blogs.  You might also be surprised to note that when I checked blog dates I found a typo that I went back and corrected.  You can now follow this hard point/economy priced saw story from here, to March 11/ 2012, to December 16 /2011.

  The other day a blog post came from, he was posting about building a work bench and how he wanted to build it with basic tools to show that it was possible without spending a fortune.  I agree with him, and other bloggers, wood working in enjoyable and does not have to break the bank, and again this bench build project proves it.

  He appears to agree with my position regarding these "throw away" saws.  I doubt that many hobby wood workers will ever wear one of these saws out. And by the time that the saw is wear out the wood worker with be well skilled and know exactly what they need to buy to replace the hard point saw. 

   Also, I seriously encourage the use of these saws when using re-claimed and/of recycled wood.  I have some lovely barn boards, but they scare me enough that I begin all work on the barn board with tools over which I would shed no tears.

   Not only does theenglishwoodworker have wise things to say,  but one of the comments talked about having a hardpoint/economy saw in the boot (trunk) of his car for dealing with found wood.  This is going to be a spring of found wood, there are countless tree branches in ditches all over rural Ontario.  I like this saw:

Bacho 22-inch x 8 Point Hardpoint Hand Saw 010632260
Bacho  22inch x 8 point 

as a potential trunk saw.  Good length, course enough teeth to handle green wood and thicker branches.  And cheap enough that I would shed no tears if it got lost, bent, forgotten, stolen etc. 

cheers, ianw

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hand Saw Bench

   This morning, once I cleaned up the shop from the weekend's boat* production I began a larger project for myself/my shop.  About this time last year my shop work went off the rails with a serious back injury, and to get working at all I created raised tables to sit on top of my desk, and benches.  Standing very straight enabled me to get back to work with reduced pain.  High standing desks work OK, my computer desk is 48 inches off the floor. A work bench for carving, or using a Dremel tool that is that high off the floor is OK too, but it is no good for any sort of large scale work.  I don't know about you but I am not comfortable with real power tools that close to my face.

  The project I began is morning was a saw bench, a saw bench is traditionally used with hand saws and is designed to be used alone, were as 'saw horses' are used in pairs.  The bench will be about 23 inches off the floor 32 inches long  with a broad stance for stability.  

  My inspiration for this project is Tom Fidgen's latest book:

  I have both of his books and recommend them highly.  Hand tools have an important place in my shop but, my shop remains a hy-bred with both power and hand tools used on nearly all projects.  My saw bench will be used with all sort of saws, jig and circular saws need a solid, stable, reliable platform upon which to work just as much as a handsaw does.

   As with so many things that I make I am only using the plan as a guideline.  

  Tom's bench has a very good design, I think and the idea that one sent of legs is vertical while the other is splayed out is genius.  The top boards on my bench are 1 1/2 inch spruce rather than hard wood, I had some stud lumber and I know that it will get beat up and so will need replacing.

  The legs are going to be made from 2 inch poplar that is left over from previous projects.  I find that some poplar can be very heavy, straight grained and dense making it a useful, low cost 'hard wood'. 


    In the next blog I will show a hy-bred technique that I used to rip the poplar board down from 9 inches to 6 before it was planned.

cheers, ianw

* Kieran was here on the weekend and he collected a bundle of off cuts in the shop that we turned into two river barges and a submarine.  He did some cutting with a small hand saw and used the cordless drill to help me drill holes.  Kieran also has begun driving nails, he likes screws and nails better than glue, glue takes too long. I think he has wood worker genes in there some place.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Closet Helper

 This is a photo of Wednesday's project completed with hooks attached.  And your last chance to guess, before the big "reveal".  

   So there it is, in my closet with belts and suspenders hanging on it. In my double sized closet the hanger bar was getting a bit saggy and I decided to support its efforts.

  And the bracket that is in the middle of the bar's span was clearly sagging too.  If I knew for sure that the bracket was screwed to a stud, I wouldn't have worried, however, I have worked on this house before and so there is real likelihood that  the bracket is only screwed into the shelf above, (which is sagging) and on to the drywall. (which doesn't really have much structural strength).  

  As I am sort of a belt and suspenders kind of guy I thought it would be a good idea to support that bending bar now, instead of repair what ever consequences were forth coming if the bar gave way. 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

So it is Wednesday, and What am I?

  This morning my wood shop was in good shape.  Yes the floor was a bit dusty but the benches were clear and my tools put away. This afternoon, the shop is a mess and the bench is piled high with various tools and accessories.  

  How did this happen.  I began the day doing repairs.  Kierans's Bluenose needed to have its mast remounted, I guess there had been a particularly tempestuous bath time last week. To make a repair like that uses: chisels, rasps, glue and clamps. At least that is what a repair like that uses in my shop. There was some old glue to remove and a bit of adjustment needed to the remaining wood.

  The other repair was Kieran's Dad's dresser valet.  A very nice oak box, that had been crashed, somehow.  There seems to be no one who knows what happen to knock the end out of the box. Sand paper, glue and various clamps were all called into play, and also ended up on my bench.

  I do not have the guts to show a photo of my bench now.  Oh yes, I also spent sometime using spray foam to fill a gap around our dishwasher. (man that stuff is sticky and miserable, does a job)

  Now the What am I? part.

full view

detail, of the top of "the thing"
  This is something that most everyone's house could use.  I happened to make it from one inch softwood, but that is only because I had a suitable piece laying around.
   To be fair to those guessing, I will be putting 10 or 12 small wooden pins/cup hooks on the upper sides of the project and some felt or rubber on the bottom of the "thing" so that it will not mark our hardwood flooring or slip about.

  You can see the base, and it is free standing, but not very stable.  I put a coat of Minwax Tung Oil on the thing after I sanded it smooth and rounded over the corners.

  This piece of wood was an old, nasty piece of barn board that was too narrow to be much use, but too long to be thrown away. Surprise, it turned out to be useful after all.

   Since this was a fairly nasty piece of wood I didn't want to run it through my planer and risk the blades, but at the same time I really didn't want to go crazy sanding or risk a good hand plane blade.  My solution, a tool that I bought at the recent wood show, an electric hand plane.(to replace a old tired version)  A tool like this is the ultimate roughing out tool in my mind.  I don't imagine that the finish that an electric hand plane leaves is done , and it might not even be very even.  What the finish is, is flat (ish) and clear so that I can see with what I have to work and if the blade gets nicked, oh well!.  

  My son-in-law has a cordless electric hand plane that I've used to trim doors and things at this place.  Needless to say his father in law gave him that tool when they bought their house.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Fed up with Winter

 Now it is March, and there is still snow on the ground and the daily temperature still hovers around freezing. ( 0 degrees Metric, 32 degrees Imperial).  Either way, it is cold enough that I need mitts or gloves to go out for more than a couple of minutes.  Also, it is still boot weather.

  For the entire winter we have shovelled snow and walked in the snow and scraped car windows and .... and.... and.... all the standard winter stuff.

  At the end of nearly all winter activities I end up with wet boots, mitts and hats.  After a winter of damp mitts and boots I finally got frustrated enough that I have done something about it.

  One inch holes and 3/8 dowel, about 8 inches long.

  The boot/mitt dryer is a box that is 3/4 inch deep that sits over top the furnace grate on the floor.  I should have made two of these last November, know how it is.

   When I have to drill a bit hole like these I really like forstner bits.  A set of bits seems costly but, cheap quality bits burn easily and soon are almost useless.

   When I drilled the holes for the dowels I used my drill press.  Even after years of hole drilling, I use a drill press when I what things to be accurate, I never got to be a straight up and down guy, regardless of practice.  If you haven't got the bucks or the room for a floor model drill press, check out the bench top models.  I got years of use out of my bench top before I got enough room for a floor model.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Boot Clip

This is what tall boots look like in the closet, or sitting on the door mat, drying.

This is what tall boots can look like in the closet, or sitting on the door mat, drying.

This is the simple wood shop project that makes for the dramatic transformation.

  My boot clips are 15 inches long by 7/8 by 1/4 elm.  Why elm, because I have some extra pieces laying around with no certain future.

  I cut the strips on my table saw, using my thin strip jig, and sanded the project smooth with my random orbital sander.  Since the wood maybe in contact with damp I left it unfinished.

A quick and easy project to enable you to score points with the tall boot set.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


  When building out of wood it is good to have all surfaces smooth to the touch.  All surfaces don't have to be sanded to four hundred grit but they all need some attention, often the surface that comes off the jointer or planer is good enough for an under side of project or the inside of a box.

   In today's project the back side of the boards needed some attention because the boards I was using had been recovered from another furniture project from a couple of years ago.  The back side of the beaded boards were rough cut and had some glue residue as well.

  I had used these bead boards to make doors for cup boards in our previous family room. 

  After a bit of trimming I needed to clean up the back side of the boards.  I have every kind of sander and plane known to man and I finally decided to use 'the beast'


   3 by 21 inch rip snorting belt sander.  My 'beast' is at least 25 years old and doesn't get much work now days but... there are times, like today that it is just the perfect tool for the job.  I keep a 120 grit belt on the sander and use it when I want to make a whole bunch of dust in a big hurry.  The bead board was not too straight and slightly cupped with a few knots in awkward places so running it through the planer seemed like a bad idea and beginning with an orbital sander seemed too slow. ( with glue and crap on the boards, I wasn't risking a hand plane)
   With the belt sander, I clamped the board down and run the sander up and down the board a couple of times to clear away the rough stuff.  Then I used my random orbital sander to finish off the board.

the big clamp is a KHC Xlarge face clamp,
very handy to have around for times like this.

  After things were smoothed out I glued the pieces together to make yet another box.  This box will be sanded and painted once the glue is dry.  The design is for a box to sit on top of a low partition wall and collect car keys, cell phones and other stuff that get emptied out of ones pockets when one comes in through the door at the end of the day. 

    As follow up to the Folding Stool from last week
scratched bead on the leg

new seat.  12 inches square,
 my sit down was is to big for the original 10 inch seat.
 all that remains is to stain the stool and give it a couple of coats of shellac.  Photos to follow when the spirit moves to me to finish this job.

cheers, ianw  
P.S. another day of penguin weather.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

scratch stock, low budget model

  Last week a video arrived in my inbox from "The Highland Woodworker", at the 15 minute point in the video it showed how to make and use a "scratch stock" I am mostly a router kind of guy but it looked easy and sort of cool, so I gave it a try,

sharpened cutting edge.

  I arrived at the shape of the holder, totally by accident, there was a piece of elm in my scrap box that size and shape.  It actually worked out well because the rounded edges fit nicer in my hand than square edges.  When you look up Scratch Stock, beading tool on the net you find that they are more complex than the one in my photo, but the principle is the same.

  I didn't have a project in process that really needed beading, but so I decided to test my tool on the folding stool that I built last week.  With almost no effort and a dead flat learning curve I was able to put a beaded profile on the stool's legs.  I did this after assembly and so the were some issues with space and clearance for the tool.  Next time I will apply all that detail before assembling the piece. ( as you would with any method)

   If you want to see the video that inspired me you can link here:

  If you go to You Tube there are a variety of links to see other woodworkers and also reviews of some commercially available tools.

  My next plan is to make a version of the beading tool using steel from a reciprocating saw blade for the cutter.  I figure a saw blade should be both sharp and flexible enough for this use, and cheap too.

cheers ianw

Friday, March 7, 2014

Folding Stool

  Occasionally I make something from a plan, and actually follow the plan pretty closely. This week I went to our local Library and picked up a book called:

   This book has a bunch of the standard quick and easy projects and one caught my eye.  The idea of a stool for the work shop that folds out of the way when I don't need it is a good idea.  I brought the book home and started into the project.

  The glossy photo in the book showed an  oddly proportioned stool but I figured that it would have never gotten published it if was a total bomb.  After all, books aren't the internet, books have editors and publishing companies that have a vested interest in the information that they share.

  There is the plan and the following few pages show what to do first and for each projects gives a tip or two on order of assembly and the like.

   My stool is made from poplar.  I still have a couple of slabs of poplar left from making my grand kid's, cribs and beds and so I milled the wood to 1 1/2 thickness for this project.  The suggested material was 1 1/4 not 1 1/2 but I figured as a plus sized guy I would error on the side of sturdy in my construction.


  The end result is a folding stool that is 27 inches tall and stable front to back, but not so much side to side. This is a place to perch my butt while working on a lower bench, not a place to sit by the hour and drink beer. Think, workshop stool, not bar stool.  The seat is 3/4 plywood rather than glued up poplar and 10 inches in diameter. The brace on the legs is just a hunk of scrap I put on to check out the basic result, it will get changed when I decide on the final form of the stool.

   The design is good, but as happens it can't serve all people equally well. I made a couple of modifications to the stool to improve its comfort and usability. For example it is too tall for my wife to use comfortably, (saws can fix that) and my bottom is too wide for that seat. 

   Next blog I will share the changes I made to the Folding Stool.


  BlackJack Tilt Bin Organizer Set 6 Compartments

  Organising is like taxes, it is ever present.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Hardwood Flooring Story

  Like is says in the video, there was a time when exposed wood on the floor was a stylistic no-no.  Times and fashions change.  Our house is all hardwood or ceramic tile, mostly to try and reduce the dust in the house to help reduce my chronic sinus problems.  I feel it was a good decision, since we moved into the house before the subdivision was completed, over the last five years we have swept up bushels of dust and clay that has blown in the windows. I can only image what carpets would be like by now.

How it is made, hardwood flooring

  Once you buy your hardwood flooring, you need the tools for installation. A saw, measuring tape, square and flooring nailer.

Grex 15 Gauge 2'' Hardwood Flooring Stapler MS1250

    There is also a laminate flooring cutter available for sale.  I have never used a tool like this, the times that I have put down laminate flooring I used my table saw to cut the pieces and then had the blade resharpened, the flooring really beat the blade to death.  If I put laminate down again I will try either the cutter or the flooring saw, portable and designed for the job. (two important assets)

   You may also be interested in the Bessey flooring Kit. Remember, you can never have too many clamps.

  Bessey DIY Flooring Tool Kit DFK100

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Kreg KMS 7103 Precision Mitre Gauge Fence

  I don't often put in a deliberate  plug for a product on sale at  However, this is a great deal on a great product.

  If you have a KREG mitre gauge having this extra fence would be real nice,

Kreg KMS7103 Precision Miter Gauge Add-On System
KMS 7103

and the extra flip stop is a bonus.

    If you have an extra piece of fence you could use it as the heart of a box joint jig for your table saw for example.  Or if you were making a project that needed special angled jigging you could use on jig for each dedicated angle.

   The KMS 7103 will also fit onto the KREG KMS7200 band saw fence.

Kreg, KMS7200 Band Saw Fence 13673
KMS 7200

  Since I use the blog to share interesting ideas and projects I don't think it is too far off base to share a good deal when it comes along either.

  Another good deal I came across was at 10,000 Villages. Handyman Soap

This is a really nice soap that doesn't use hard core chemicals to get results.  Sometimes I have a day where I seem to be painting, or varnishing a bunch of projects and I end up washing paint brushes and my hands a dozen times an afternoon.  After the first couple of washes in mineral spirits my paws begin to suffer so I am always on the lookout for an alternative. The oils in this soap seem to do a better job on oil based finishes than the animal fats in other bar soaps and it doesn't peel away my skin.

cheers, Ian W

Are you listening, Dad ?  I want a table saw for my birthday.