Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Reciprocating Saw.

  The reciprocating saw, or Sawzall is a versatile  tool for rough cutting.  Rough cutting wood, nails, mild steel and pipe, as well as trees and branches.

  I do not need 'bug out' tools but I did think the video shows just how useful a recip saw is for trimming and limbing.

  Recently I used my reciprocating to cut the nails holding a skid together  and I have used a long specialised blade to trim trees at my Mother's house. 
  I think that a reciprocation saw is another of those tools that are used a couple of times and year but for which there is no real substitute. 

cheers, ianw 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Folding and/or Pocket Knives

  I love edge tools, planes, knives, chisels scrapers etc.  For a very long time I have carried a folding knife in my pocket or briefcase, all the time.  I can't even guess how  many of my knives have been borrowed from my desk and not returned, lost or stolen.  All my knives are sharp and useful, even the ones that are really just souvenirs.

  This is most of my current collection of pocket knives.  I know that I have at least three others but they must be in tool bags, gym bags or suitcases at this moment. 

  In this collection are knives that I've bought in Switzerland, The Azores, Sweden, Germany and Spain.  As well there are knives from Japan, Canada, and the USA. There is an official "Boy Scouts of American" pocket knife.  The horn handled knives' blades were made by the World Champion Blade Maker in 2000. The oldest knife is the one part way down the right side with home made scales  that I've had since I was nine years old, I found it in the ditch in front of our house, only recently did I fix it up.  The two blade knife in the middle with the wood scales and brass ends was given to my by my Grandfather in 1979. The bigger two blade knife in the bottom middle was my fathers, I bought two at the Grohmann factory sixteen years ago, I don't know where the other one ended up.

  There are a couple of cheap knives that don't hold a very good edge so I use them to cut up cardboard and plastic, there are some knives that are scary sharp and will stay that way for a long time. 

  I have a few, straight knives for working in my shop and I also have a pretty good selection of wood carving knives.  

  Like I said, I like edge tools.

cheers ianw

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Box with a Knot for Eva

  The current fashion of making things from re-used lumber is something I endorse fully, I hate to see wood wasted. Across our street the house that burned(mostly) was recently crushed and hauled away, there was lots of framing lumber that isn't getting used again, it isn't even being burned in a fire place.  The lumber goes to a landfill site, jeez.

  Anyway, getting off my soap box.  

  Recently Eva asked for a wooden box to gather the various lotions and potions on her bedroom dresser.  I looked about in the work shop and found a couple of boards with serious knots in them or as some people say, wood with character. 

  The boards were from the skid that I took apart a couple of weeks ago.  I kept the boards because of the knot, I thought I might make a flower box or something using the wood and featuring the knots.  

  The basic box I cut out using power, sliding mitre saw mostly.  Then I nailed the box together with butt joint corners. The bottom is made from slats cut from a 2 x 4, the slats were also nailed onto the box. It was my plan to make some trim for the corners, so nails worked fine, and fast. With pre-drilling nails work just fine and shouldn't be scorned as low class.

  I used my hand saw with a sawing jig to cut out the wood,

  and my  planing jig to smooth  and put a 45 degree edge on each piece of trim.

  Since the trim pieces were small I cut the angle by eye with a small plane.

covering the nails and
 adding  some style

The end result was pretty good, not perfect but pretty good and by the time everything was sanded the corner joints look good.

13 x 8 x 7 inches

  The end result was given a coat of orange shellac, a coat of blonde shellac and a couple of sprays of varnish.  As you can see the knots are quite notable.  Once the sanding was done and the coats of shellac applied the wood is perfectly smooth, even  the knots.

  A note about sanding.  When I was a grade 7 and 8 student the boys had one period of wood shop each week in which me made simple projects and got to see and use a variety of wood working tools.  Since I had a Grampa with a workshop there wasn't anything new for me in 'shop' class, but it was fun and I was pretty good at it.  I still have the foot stool and bowl I made in that class.  There were always more boys then tools and while you waited your turn you spent time sanding your projects. Few shop projects suffer from too much sanding, and learning to spend your time and attention on hand sanding is not a bad thing.  Having started with construction grade wood, this project needed lots of sanding, and frankly I think careful sanding can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

  cheers, ianw

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Heart Warming Video, and a good project.

I came upon this video yesterday and since I am an Opa I needed to share this with you all.  I hope there are lots of fathers making project with their children.

Making a 2x4 Tool Box

  I think we can always use another tools box and shop time with the kids is the best shop time of all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hand Planing Jig

 As I do more and more small projects I find myself often sanding and planing smaller pieces of wood.  To control the material while sanding I use a soft mat or bench cookies . Carpet under padding or drawer liner works pretty well and  is pretty cheap.  I like cheap matting because when it gets covered in glue and paint it gets tossed out.

  Planing on the other hand offered some challenges. I found trying to plane a small thin piece of wood a nuisance to set up and hold.  After some thought I arrived at my planing jig. ( I am sure I didn't invent this workshop solution, so I won't claim to)

  The jig is a flat piece of hardwood about 6 x 15 with two through dog holes at one end and a low stop at the other.  I can plane smaller boards against the stop laying flat or..

  I can stand a smaller board on edge and push it into a 'V' cut stop against the end stop. 


    I decided on dogs to hold the jig for the flexibility but I can use a bench clamp as well.

  In June 2016 I wrote about my small bench topper, bench top. These smaller bench jigs allow me more flexibility in where and how I work.  My hope is that being able to work in a variety of postures will keep me working longer before my back gives me troubles.  Also a smaller bench top keeps me from going crazy and making my work table look like a Swiss Cheese from dog holes.

  I not only have been working on my work station but I also got the panels glued into a box and today I fitted a bottom.  I say fitted because the box/foot stool is not really square, it is close to square.

  The bottom is held in place with KREG pocket holes.  I chose not to try and square all the panels before working with them.  Each panel is hand carved and approximately 15 inches square, but also each one is somewhat warped too. I felt that the artistic nature of the panels was best left as it, (since you can only see one side at a time) and I'd adjust and compromise on the 90 degree corners.  

  The top is drying as I type so this project will be done tomorrow.  The foot stool is for my brother's man cave.  What can a say, I have a workshop, he has a cave.

cheers, ianw

Image result for man cave

Monday, May 8, 2017

Handles and Box

  The story of the handles should be a mere bagatelle, but as with so many things in a home shop, there was a twist.

  It broke. Luckily the handles were going to stand too far off the door so the cut down version wasn't affected by the break.

  The finished handles were stained with  Danish Oil first and then shellac, and I'll finish with spar varnish.

  The panels are being glued one at a time into a box.  The wood panels are only approximately the same size, there will be some adjustment needed to the final piece.  Also the panels are not really flat so there has been a bit of planing and fitting to get the pieces together.

  You can see the long clamp from KREG and the gravity clamp at work holding the side on as the glue dries. 

   Once I get the four sides glued together I will fit a base inside the box and use pocket holes to attach the sides to the base board.

Three Planes
   You can see the three planes that I used to flatten the edge of the panels before glue up.  I first scored a line along the panel to give a natural line for the shoulder plane to follow.  The half inch blade in the shoulder plane cut across the grain easily giving a straight edge and good depth control.  Next I used the small plane to hog out the balance of the wood with the block plane as a smoother.

  I have begun to use my smallest planes more often recently.  Over the last couple of years I have got better at sharpening and the small planes have become much more useful.  I've found the smaller the plane the sharper the blades must be. To  take off whisker like shavings effortlessly and not tear the wood the blade must be razor sharp. All of my small planes have a single adjustment for depth of cut and alignment, set up is a bit fussy, but worth it.

  I have an old bull nose plane sitting on a shelf, it is time to give it the treatment too I think.  I'm sure it was a good tool, and with a proper blade it will be again.

cheers ianw




Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday's Business

 I am making a pair of door handles for a shed and when it came time to glue the handles to panels I opted for a gravity clamp.

  This piece of train track has been in our family workshops for generations, it is a poor man's anvil.  I keep threatening to grind the horn smooth, but haven't gotten around to it.  I could have used other types of clamps to hold this together but gravity was quickest and easiest.  To attache these handles to the door I attached the handle to a plate and the plate to the door rather that driving long screws through the door into the handle.  Since modern glues are so good I decided first to glue the two pieces together.  Once the glue set I turned the unit over and drove a long screw into the handle through the plate.  With the glue set nothing wiggled while drilling and and  screwing. 

  Here is a progress photo of the funny little man.

   This little man is going to Sweden for my youngest grand daughter.  He is sort of a viking, but she is too small to have a toy with horns on its helmet.  The big ears and nose stick out enough.

  Over a year ago I was at a yard sale hosted by our church and six of these panels were for sale.  At the end of the day the panels hadn't sold and the owner shrugged their shoulders and supposed they would burn the panels in their fire place come winter. I voiced my opinion that that was a real shame, as a wood worker I hated to seen decent wood burned for lack of imagination. My point was taken and I got all the panels for a very good price, on the understanding that they didn't end up in my fire place.  I have been thinking about the panels for a while and recently found a project that will feature four of them.

Stay tuned.

cheers, ianw  


Monday, May 1, 2017

A Summary of Small Things in the Shop

  I got a wonderful photograph this week, it shows my grandson with some of the ships we've built.  There isn't an admiral of the fleet anywhere that is more proud of his ships. 

  The submarine support ship needs further work, helicopter pads and radio towers I think.

  A while ago my kids gave me a plastic bottle cutter.

Reuse and recycle plastic bottles of all kinds, turning them into convenient universal handy ropes.

  At the time I knew that it was a cool thing, but I really didn't have a clear notion of what I would do with the plastic string that it creates.  I also found that the string was tightly wound and fairly difficult to handle.

  There are a few things that I have learned about bottle string:
  a. the string has sharp hard edges.  If you want to soften the edges put the string into boiling water for a while.

  b. if you hang the string for a few months with a light weight on it the string will straighten out quite a bit.

  I  hung the strips in the back of my shop under the stairs after the Christmas holiday intending to use them in the garden this spring. I found that a 2 litre pop bottle made about 25 feet of string.

c.  Another thing that I learned from the internet is that the pop bottle string acts like "heat shrink wrap.

  I put a couple of wraps of the string around each end of these bundles of re-claimed wood and tucked the end in.  All it took was the briefest blast from my heat gun to fuse the knot together and shrink the string tight.  Bundles of wood are neater and easier to keep organised in my shop than loose boards.

  Yesterday was rainy and cold.  I'd been fairly busy during the week and my back had been punishing me.  Usually when I am working on a project I work until it hurts and then abandon the shop for my easy chair or laying on the floor.  Using this method there is no energy left to clean up the shop or to do all those little maintenance things that should be done at the end of a work sessions. Since it was not a good day for gardening or riding my motorcycle I used the time doing maintenance.

  After I wrapped up the wood and put it away I spent an hour taking planes apart and stropping their blades.  I've found that frequent use of a leather strop has reduced the amount of actual sharpening I'm doing by at least half.  After touching up the blades and waxing the soles of my regularly used planes I turned my attention to my chisels and shop knives. I believe that stropping away the tiny burrs that develop during use helps the edge last much longer.  
  It was a relaxing and productive afternoon as I did some of the those little jobs that make life in the shop go more smoothly.  I washed my various glue bottles and scraped some of the glue bumps off of my bench, two things that get over looked until I am in the midst of a project. I collected shop rags and put some to soak and some to the trash. I like to have clean rags handy.  Another  job was using steel wool and wire brushes to clean up putty and glue application knives.  A clean blade spread glue smooth and evenly and a clean handle is nicer to hold.

 Today is as cold and rainy.  This might be the day for a Zen like sweep and vacuum

cheers, ianw