The Day in Shavings – 31 March 2010

I haven’t been able to get much time in the garage lately, so I’ve only made a little progress on those candle holders.

Yesterday I put the chamfer on the tops of all the sides of the holders using a bit in my router table. I have a 45′ chamfer bit, but only one.  I came to realize why a woodworker needs so many sizes/variants of the same tool. The candle holders call for a chamfer on the inside of the top edge, which gives the top a nice reveal. The plans have that chamfer extending half the thickness of the side – but mine won’t quite be that “deep” because my chamfer bit isn’t that big.  I realize I could go to my hand planes to finish the chamfer, but my desire to adhere to the plans isn’t great enough for me to figure out the proper work holding to do so [/benchless guy].

These candle holders have a shelf that supports the candle inside them, about half way up the stand. I made up for the lack of a stacked dado set by using a simple stop block and my normal table saw blade to make the dado. I set the saw fence at the proper distance so the blade would cut a kerf at the bottom of the dado. I then lined up the top of the dado and clamped a stop block in place on the auxiliary fence I made for my mitre gauge. I cut those two reference kerfs, then make several passes to chip away the rest, in a similar fashion to how Norm Abram makes his tenon shoulder cuts.

I also cut the mitres for assembling the holders on both edges of each side. This is significant in that previously I had never made an angled cut on my tablesaw; the blade had always been perpendicular to the table top. Happily the “preset” on the angle adjuster was pretty good, so I didn’t have to do fiddle much to get a 45′ cut.  The fence took a little more time to adjust, as I was getting used to figuring out the distance between where the fence was and where the blade would exit the top of the piece.

The most difficult part of the setup was safety. As I was cutting one of the test pieces, I noticed the wood wanted to ride up the blade, off the table.  After immediately stopping the blade, I went to work affixing a couple of homemade featherboards to the fence to hold the piece flat. Because my finished dimensions are only 4″ wide, the featherboards now presented a pushing problem. I was very nervous using a push stick because now there wasn’t any room to the right (the featherboards) and putting my hands to the left would put them closer to the blade.  I eventually (albeit slowly) pushed the pieces through with a skinny push stick, with only the featherboards providing downward force. There was some burning, but nothing the card scraper won’t be able to handle.

I know I’ve been behind on posting new designs/drawings. Rest assured, I have several ideas I want to sketch up, I just haven’t gotten around to spending time with the paper and pencil.  What little I’ve done is to start thinking about the layout of a low entertainment center I need to build for my basement. That design will definitely get built.

Wow – I didn’t expect to write all that. Maybe it should have been a “full” post with some pictures…

Laziness and Hand Tools?

A couple of nights ago I was out in the garage to work on the trim that would top the rails and footboard of Briana’s crib. One of the lessons (out of many) I’ve learned during the process of building this crib is not to cut everything ahead of time. The pieces I had cut a while ago were a few sixteenths of an inch short – all three pieces. So I ripped two new pieces for the long pieces and used one of the old long pieces to shorten for the cross piece.

Once I had the pieces ripped and cut to proper length, I realized that these would be pieces that Briana would be grabbing eventually.  I decided to I wanted to round over the edges, but had no desire to setup my router table. As seen before, my router table is one of those 15″x30″ prefab tables from Craftsman. When not it use, it gets piled up in a corner in the garage; this is especially the case when I have a huge project (such as this crib) taking up space.  I really didn’t feel like getting it out, clamping it to my bench table saw, and setting up the roundover bit.  As it turns out, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Instead I clamped each piece of trim in my quad screw vise and grabbed my block plane:

This isn’t one of the pieces from my recent purchase, but a block plane I’ve had for some time. I just wanted a simple roundover, nothing too dramatic or deep, something to keep a sharp edge away from the baby.  I ran several passes across each edge, varying my angle slightly to keep a smooth surface. Even though it was stringy shavings, instead of wispy ones:

…there was still a simple peace in working the wood this way. A little sanding and this trim was ready for glue-up. With pieces that were covering such a long and wide space, I setup my clamps before applying any glue:

Turns out that was a great idea, because I would have been scrmabling quite a bit to get all these clamps in place:

Here’s a couple of close ups of the corner of these assemblies:

You can almost see the roundover detail on the trim in those shots.  Next step, I have similar trim pieces that wrap around the cabinet, rails, and footboard – holding those pieces to the base.  After that all that is left to make the crib habitable is a couple of coats of shellac. I should probably get back into the garage right now…

Hand Plane Gloat

On a pretty regular basis (while my wife isn’t watching) I comb through my local Craigslist ads looking for various things for the garage, tools and wood mostly.  In fact my drill press and the southern yellow pine that will end up as a workbench were both found on Craigslist. It doesn’t hurt that I’m willing to drive quite a ways for a good deal; each of those purchases was ~40 miles each way. Monday night I was doing my trolling through the Craigslist search engine and came across an ad for a set of hand planes – mostly Stanley Baileys, from #3 to #6, 30 planes and some extra parts – $300!

Upon seeing the pictures and the price, I proceeded to run (don’t walk) to my nearest e-mail client and send the seller a note asking if the lot was still available and if so, when could we arrange to meet for the transaction.  A half-dozen e-mails later, we had settled on Tuesday evening.  The kicker was the seller lived on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay. I live and work near Dulles International Airport.  For those of you not familiar with the Washington, DC metro area, here’s my driving path for the trip:

An almost complete circle around the DC Beltway in the late afternoon/early evening would be enough of a deterrent for most people, but I decided to duck out of work a little early to see if I could beat the beltway. I left right around 3 PM and started my trek east.  Other than a couple of cars stopped on the inside shoulder near Bethesda, I seemed to have beat the beginning of the evening rush and the drive was smooth.  Knowing I was plenty early (the seller wouldn’t be home until after 5:30), I stopped at the Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple of books to read to pass the time.

I started reading Ron Hock‘s The Perfect Edge:

I also picked up (too be read later) Tom Fidgen‘s Made By Hand:

Once I was able to meet up with the buyer, I had no problem paying the asking price.  The lot of hand planes contained these planes in good condition:

Stanley Bailey #6 (2):

Stanley #5 1/4:

Stanley #5 (4):

Stanley #4 (3):

Stanley #3:

Defiance by Stanley #4, Millers Fall #8, Fulton #4C (2):

Stanley Handyman H1204 (2):

Stanley #378 w/ most of the fence:

Stanley #78 (3):

Sargent #198:

Unknown #78:

Stanley #110:

Stanley #118 (2)

Stanley #220 (3):

The purchase also contained these planes in not so good condition:

Stanley Bailey #6:

Unknown #5 – one and a half of them:

Stanley Bailey #4, Shelton Standard #4, Unknown #4:

Stanley Bailey #3

All in all, I’m ecstatic with the find.  The next step will be to start tuning them up. Other than sharpening the blade, I’ve never attempted any major tuning or repair of a plane.  I found these instructions documenting one person’s steps.  Does anyone have any other tips and/or links?

The plan is to tune them all up, keep some of them to round out my collection, then sell the remaining hand planes to help recoup some of my initial investment.  I’ll make sure to document the steps I follow here in the blog.

Here’s to some whispy shavings!

The Plane, Boss, the Plane!

Despite the electron smashing power of most of my shop, I think I fall into Rob’s Category #2, The Power Tool Woodworker Who Uses Hand Tools. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on building up my hand tools in the plane department. I certainly don’t have the kind of money to be splurging triple-digit dollars on brand new Lee Neilson planes, so I went where any frugal, computer-savvy shopper goes these days – eBay & Craigslist.

Over the last six weeks or so I’ve discovered that if you are patient enough, you can find what you’re looking for on a tight budget.  My first forray into a “serious” hand tool purchase was this Stanley #190 Rabbet plane, which I scored for $25 after shipping:


To be honest, this was a bit of an impluse buy. I don’t know that I really need a rabbet plane and I’m pretty sure it didn’t need to be my first plane purchased.  But the auction was ending that first night I was looking and you’d be hard pressed to beat the price.  This one is the plane that (so far) needs the most clean-up work.  There’s some rust and dirt to clean off and the japanning (which I think is just a fancy word for black paint, but I’m not sure) is mostly gone. I imagine that this will come in handy once I start using some “real” joinery, like rabbets, mortise & tenons, or the occasional  1 1/4″ dado!

My second winning bid was for a set of two Stanley #110 Block planes. I think these were the big steal, coming in at $18 for the pair, including shipping:


Unlike my rabbet plane, I know I’ll get immediate use out of at least one of these guys. The first task will be paring some end grain off a few boards that were cut just a little longer than their mating pieces in Briana’s crib. There are an endless number edges I’ll be chamfering on that project as well, I’m sure.

My latest plane pickup (arrived just this week) is the big dog, a Stanley #7 Jointer plane:


This one came in at a cool $72 after shipping, but that’s a great pound-for-pound value (and this thing is heavy).  Once I get around to building a laminate-top workbench (somewhere down around 4 or 5 on the project list), I’m sure this guy will be a huge help.

Despite the shoddy appearance of the rabbet plane, all of these tools actually have very flat soles. There’s hardly any light that peeks beneath a straight edge held against the soles, so just a little TLC is in order to get them dead-on.  For the blades, I have a combination wet stone to do the sharpening:


I sharpened my first blade tonight, one of the block plane blades.  I figured that they were a decent size to work with (fit easily in my hand); plus I have two of them, so if  I screwed up I wouldn’t be in too big of a bind. I think that it turned out alright, but if anyone has any techniques they’d like to share – please leave a comment; I’m sure there’s plenty I have to learn in this arena.  The satisfying part about laboring with the blade and the stone is the result – a whole new way to create “sawdust” in my shop:


These are my first shavings ever, from the end grain of a 3/4″ red oak board that was lying in my scrap pile. It didn’t take much effort to create an incredibly smooth surface.  Between that and the curls, I’m definitely hooked on planing, something Mrs. ShopOwner is undoubtedly pleased with, given my recent flurry of spending…