Sunday, January 11, 2015

Well, there's your problem.

The main pulley on my thickness planer broke this evening. I was removing a board from the out-feed side so the bang scared me less than it would have otherwise. Happily, I was able to turn the planer off before the v-belt suffered any real damage.
This is the first breakdown I've had with the thickness planer. I've had it for about ten years and the replacement part is only about $30 including shipping. That's a reliable tool. I'll use this as an opportunity to thoroughly clean and lubricate the planer.
In the mean time my current project goes on hiatus for a few days or I use the table saw and get a workout using a hand plane to finish surfacing about fifty board-feet of stock for a tool cabinet. Maybe I'll get the workout and see how long it takes. I could use the exercise...

Monday, December 29, 2014

The transformation begins

Unlearning habits is hard. I spent a lot of time learning how to use power tools to fix up our old house. But as "home improvement" gave way to greater ambitions, I found I was drawn more and more to hand tool woodworking. This led to an interest in work holding for hand tool operations, which led to Chris Schwarz's workbench book.

As often happens when you're part of a family raising young children, I did more dreaming than doing. Some of that is my own fault, for not seizing opportunities. Some of that is just the definition of raising a family.

Recently, I finished my Roubo-style workbench as described by Chris, and with vises by Benchcrafted. And now the transformation has begun.

I decided to build a kindling holder. We have a high efficiency wood insert in our fireplace and it's become tedious to remember the bits of kindling to get the fire started properly. A friend recently gifted me with some pine removed while redoing a room in their house. So I decided to throw together a simple rectangular box to hold kindling by the fireplace.

After practicing some hand tool flattening (the boards would end up about 10 inches wide and it seemed a shame to rip them down to fit my 6" jointer), I nailed and glued up the main carcass. When I went to make the bottom, I wanted it rabbeted to provide a cleaner look and stronger joint. But my glue-up was not quite perfect and the box, which looked completely square, was off a bit.

I could have trashed the piece and started over. But it looks square (it's off by less than a degree) and the wood is beautiful. And it's a kindling holder for pity's sake.

That's when I realized my new workbench offered an answer. With the wagon vise, a holdfast, a clamp, and scrap piece, I had a perfect jig for a backsaw to saw the edges of the rabbet. It took literally a minute to set up, including planing the edge of the guide scrap flat.

Once the edges were sawn, a router plane and shoulder plane finished the work quickly and with no dust or noise.

In less than fifteen minutes from idea to finish, I'd rabbeted all the edges of the bottom and router-planed them to fit. Trying to find a solution with power tools would have taken me at least an hour, a lot of noise and dust, and a nervous moment or two.

Chris Schwarz was incredibly kind during my bench build. I suspect he's so tired of workbench questions he would like to just scream when he gets another email about it. When I had almost finished my bench and sent him proud pictures, he nonetheless responded kindly, complimenting my bench and stating he thought it would transform my work.

I am happy to report he was right. Tonight was just the latest in a series of wonderful moments when I needed to hold my work and found a quick and reliable way with this workbench.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just shy a coat of finish

All it needs now is a coat of finish.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Almost there

Almost ready to join the base and the top of my workbench. 

Now is the time to be patient. Rushing will ruin many, many hours of work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Measure of a Life

I've said it before, but the passing of someone I wish I'd known prompts me to say it again.

The measure of a life is not so much about the things we 'accomplish', as it is the company we keep.

-- Brian

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Better Late Than Never

I'm not going to say how long these savings boxes have been in the works. Happily, they are finally done.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's not dead yet...

Not like anyone is waiting with baited breath, but I hope to resume writing about woodworking soon. Ebb, and flow, ebb and flow...

[Obligatory Monty Python reference...]