Monday, January 31, 2011

Cold Feet

For best effect, this post should really be viewed in black and white...

The longer-term reader may have been wondering to themselves "My, my, but Alf's been very quiet on the progress of her workbench build. She must have practically finished it by now..."

The really long-term reader will be laughing at the idea and just assumed nothing's happened.

Go on, guess who's right.

The vice still waits, the wood is getting really well seasoned, and your less-than-intrepid blogger has got seriously cold feet about the whole thing. In fact I've been thinking more and more that the Emmert would be just the thing to replace the front vice on my existing bench, which is starting to annoy me more and more (now I'm actually using it occasionally...) I have the beech, could do with a little less tool tray to fill with clutter; it's practically destiny.

But this is pathetic behaviour, so I bit the bullet, threw a gift card at that well-known river in South America, and joined the rest of the woodworking world in reading The Schwarz on workbenches.

If that doesn't get me wanting to make a workbench, then it's on to book two. And if that doesn't work, well someone pop over and check my pulse 'cos I might actually be dead.

Of course the real danger is I'll end up wanting to build an entirely unsuitable bench for the Emmert, and then where shall I be? Oh well, at the very least Chris writes well, so it'll all go horribly wrong but with good dialogue... ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Millers Falls, and so do I

If the reader would cast their mind or their browser back to earlier this month and the Rogers Patent Mitre Planer? Well I'd been doing a pretty good job of not thinking about it. I'd looked over the tools I had in a fit condition to sell, and it wasn't ever going to come close to the necessary quantity of lettuce, so not thinking about it was the sensible option.

Then last Friday, TTS drops me an email. Will I be at the car boot on the morrow (Saturday) and shall he bring the chute plane along for a show and tell? Well, yes, okay then. As you're offering...

You know how this goes, right? You see the thing. You fondle the thing. You even get to use the thing with the provided bit of softwood for the purpose. You fall for the thing and sell any passing grandmothers you can scrounge up. This is how it's supposed to go. I talked sternly to myself all the way there about how I wasn't going to do that.

And when it came to it, it was fine. It's a super cool bit of kit, and I'm so glad I've seen one for real, but the love has died. It takes up so much space, I'd be worrying about dropping something terminal on the castings all the time, and it's so effortless you feel a bit like you've taken a step back to using power tools. It's crazy, but it's just not for me. So if anyone's in the market for one of these babies, I can put you in touch with TTS without a pang.

Mind you, I didn't escape entirely. Managed to avoid the free saw this time (Go me!), resisted the rebating shave and the folding drawknife, but came unstuck on the open gear wheel of turn of the century example of a Millers Falls #2 hand drill and - you won't believe it - a Millers Falls #14 jack plane.

Oh dear, I've been doing so well in not buying old bench planes. I mean really well. I'd virtually forgotten how to go about cleaning one up, it's been so long. But I had sort of been on the lookout for a #5 for genuine jack plane work, and wanted something a bit different. I used to have a later USA-made Stanley, but sold it ages ago. It was clean, tidy and did the job, but I never quite warmed to it for some reason. I warmed to this one. Even when I discovered the sawdust of aeons under the frog...

But it wasn't so bad - the quality of finishing on the bits and pieces is sufficiently fine that they shrug the rust off pretty easily. Dunno if M-F bench planes are always so well made though; it's my first.

And my last. Yes, definitely my last. One is more than enough. Yup.

The iron's a bit ho-hum, so I embraced the ruler trick just to get it taking a shaving. Very pleased with it. And the grain on the front knob is just gorgeous. Okay, so a purist might have repaired the chip on the top of the horn of the tote, but it doesn't bother one in use, and a tool should be allowed to show the odd battle scar now and again.

The drill's got all sorts of niggles with it; the brass ferrule on the main handle has split (which apparently they often do), the ferrule on the crank knob is completely gone, and the doodah that bears on the gear wheel to keep it engaged is also MIA. On the other hand, whereas I thought the springs were missing from the chuck, it turns out to be a springless one that uses a grooved system. Very clever.

What I really fell for though, was the egg-shaped side handle. Obviously I need to brush up on my Millers Falls stuff via OldToolHeaven, because this all came newly to me. A total knuckle-mashing nightmare to hold for most users, it appears, but just for once the smaller hands win, and it seems just fine to me.

As you see, not a lot of paint left on it, but then it appears to date from somewhere between 1899 and 1906, so I reckon that's not unreasonable. Nice drill, and I can sort of see why it's so well-regarded a model. However, despite my best efforts, all hand drills are judged against the Record 124 now, and I'm afraid are coming up short. So is that the sound of me throwing away all my drills in disgust as a result?

Wadda you think? ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stand and deliver

Allow me, if you will, to remind you of a useful thing to bear in mind when undertaking a project; it will always, but always, take longer than you think.

Then add on twice as much to allow for finishing.

These days I've given up making things for people's birthdays or Christmas. I've actually given up giving, or receiving, anything at all for either event, and rejoice in the freedom and lack of Oscar-winning "Bath Salts! How did you know?" fabrication that was previously necessary. But my mother is about to have a Big Birthday - and when I say "about to", I mean tomorrow - and I wanted to make her something to mark the event. Except I didn't know what, until I saw the William & Mary bookstand in last November's Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Small, unusual, bit of a joinery exercise. Why not?

Why not? Why not?! Because by the time the weather had stopped being abominable and gone away, and the relatives had also stopped being abominable and left after Christmas, and I'd finally got my posterior in gear and the timber acclimatised, I had exactly 10 days to get it done.


The long-term reader will know I don't do speedy project building. I prevaricate. I beat about the bush. I hum and hah. Reader, the nose has veritably been to the grindstone on this one.

I also avoid through mortises, staining (which was going to be necessary given what timber I was working with) and actually following plans, so lots of potential for trouble, and I met nearly all of it. The bulk of the stock prep was done with hand planes and the thicknesser (Planer, 'Murrican folk), and the bandsaw saw plenty of use. But the joinery is all hand cut and no power tools were harmed in the final shaping of the curvy bits.

Of course I was so keyed-up to get the dreaded through mortises right, I managed to make a frightful mess of the dovetails instead, so a certain amount of on-the-job learning on how best to fill gaps in dovetails went on. But before that, I managed to bore the 1/2" holes in the outer frame in exactly the wrong place. Happiness. To add to my joy, when I bought my set of snug plug cutters I was still on a metric kick, so didn't have a cutter big enough. Grrr. So I turned a couple of plugs on the lathe, and had a brilliant idea (if I say so myself) to make a feature of the end grain by stamping the recipient's initials and the Significant Birthday Number on them.

I was also dreading the curvy bits, but actually ended up rather enjoying doing them. Decorative stuff like this is not something I've really had cause to do before, and I may be hooked. Big thumbs up, once again, to my sole Auriou rasp. Yes, they may cost an arm and a leg (and good grief, I've just seen what they cost now - better add another leg), but it's such a joy to use. They may be lying there looking all purposeful, but those other rasps didn't get a look in. A recent post on the Old Tools List suggests I should be ashamed to use rasps and not have done it all with edge tools. Sounds great to me; if anyone feels ashamed about owning any Aurious, I'll take 'em off your hands...

And the finished article. "Finished?" I hear you query. "Haven't you forgotten something?" Well between you and me, I'm not much taken with the feet. More to the point, I'm not sure my mum will be. So I'll give it as-is, and consult on the feet.

I think it looks better than the photograph suggests, but we'll see how it's received tomorrow.

Tools Used (as far as I can recall):

6" & 18" Rule
3" Double square
Low Angle Jack
Mitre saw
Bevel-up smoother
Wheel gauge and mortise wheels
Skew block
Mini sliding bevel
Dovetail Saw
1/8", 1/2" & 3/4" bevel edged chisel
Marking knife
Coping saw
Drill press
1/2" Forstner bit
Letter & number stamps
Pair of compasses
1/4" Sash mortise chisel
12" clamps
Pencil gauge
Rasp (12 grain)
6" half round files (second and smooth cut)
Abrasives, tack cloths, etc to finish

Friday, January 21, 2011

Those little jobs

You know the ones. The little insignificant tasks that have been on the To Do List since the dawn of time but just never seem to get done, except they'd make life fractionally more pleasant if you actually did them? Yeah, those. Well I've actually got a couple of them off the list.

First, the frightfully exciting replacement of a short (and subsequently broken) post on the base of the adjustable bench light. Okay, so it may possibly have been sold as a desk light and wasn't supposed to suffer quite so many slings and arrows, but that's by-the-by... Had to bore out the remains of the plastic uselessness and replaced it with a length of 10mm steel rod that I happened to have lying around. Also used up an end of JB Weld that's been hanging about, getting in the way, so that was two things dealt with.

A bit of beech was fashioned into a rudimentary bench dog with a hole in the top for the steel rod, and behold. One easily moveable bench light again. At some point I may find another Tuit and make another dog to go in a 3/4" hole too.

While finding the steel rod, I finally stumbled on the old rosewood plane knob I knew I had somewhere (there's an awful lot of that going on in the workshop at the moment). Some time ago I replaced the stained beech rear tote of my oldish UK Stanley #7 with a shapely rosewood version I seemed to have spare, but I was without a front knob to go with it. The stained beech was starting to annoy me, but my available rosewood stock wasn't able to stretch to the required thickness to fashion a replacement, so I was pleased to find the perfect replacement. Well perfect except for the large chip out of the base, anyway. Ah, so that's why I didn't fit it in the first place...

I won't say it's a great match, 'cos it ain't, but as a first attempt at such a repair, I'm pleased it's at least functional.

And the result is a rather nicer-looking Frankenplane than it was before. One of these days I may even treat it to a better iron and cap iron, but to be honest, the existing ones are doing such a decent job there's really not much incentive to do so. Incidentally, quite by coincidence, it's another one of the patternmaker's tools.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Miniature redux

Been a bit busy during the last week. So busy, in fact, that step-by-step pics have fallen by the wayside. I know, the horror. The idea was if I didn't do them it'd speed things up and I'd be able to focus more. Yeah, well, all I can say is I've never made this many mistakes in so little cubic inches of timber, so maybe stopping to take photographs is a better idea. On the other hand, the main focus of my hopelessness may never be fit for public viewing and thus no public record may be a blessing... I've been doing a few other odds and ends as well, so some of them may yet venture into the spotlight.

Meanwhile, I fell over a plane that should have featured in the earlier round of Miniature Madness that engulfed this blog not long since. Except I couldn't find it. Although when I say fell over it, a leprechaun would be hard-pressed to stub his toe on this one.

It's a small round plane with top escapement, made by the patternmaker who was the source of my Mother Lode of tools some years ago. The one with the artistic tool handles. Due in no small part, I believe, to the fact that my eye lit on this little gem and exclaimed over it, he ended up depositing about half his entire hand tool kit into my care.

Constructed in two halves, basic wedge and an iron made from goodness knows what scrap of blade or whathaveyou. Simples. Works a treat too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Following on from yesterday's entry, the inevitable. After a closer inspection, it seemed to me that the Disston, at least, might be salvageable. So I had to try, didn't I? Apparently yes, I did.

First up, remove the nuts and handle. Look! Once upon a time it really was shiny steel. Who'd have believed it?

Tools of torture: scraper, wet'n'dry wrapped round a block, some white spirit (mineral spirits, North Americans) and paper towels (not shown). Newspaper or other bench top protection is essential - it gets messy.

First scrape off the worst of the rust.

Then work along the length of the saw with the wet'n'dry wrapped round the block, lubricated with some white spirit. I used 320g but really could have done with something a bit coarser for this one, if I'd had it.

Give it a wipe with the paper towel, and ye gads! Is that the hint of an etch I see before me? God bless Henry and his super deep etches. Any British saw's etch would be a distant memory by now.

Some more abrading - about 40 minutes all together - a whizz of non-woven abrasive over the nuts, white spirit to clean up the handle, a quick buff of beeswax polish on the handle and Renaissance wax on the plate and behold; the before and after shot:

I cheated like crazy with the nuts and chucked them in the cordless drill to speed things up.

The etch is almost completely legible. The bulk of Disstons that have swum into my ken have been Canadian. Of course the whole point of Canadian production was to get round import taxes into Commonwealth countries (previously known as the British Empire), so it makes sense to find them here. I gather the actual saws are identical to the US-made ones.

Clean and mainly shiny, yes. Sharp? Not even close. A run over with a file to top the teeth demonstrates the sort of problem teeth I'm up against here. Below that, just making a start.

It took two passes and several hours to get it at least sharp enough for a test run. In fact enough time passed that the light has gone, so we've gone to arty black and white again. Really it needs another go, but that can wait for its next re-sharpening. Besides which, I'd managed to generate a blister on my finger where it was bearing on the saw file, so saw filing is the last thing I want to do any more of just now, thank you...

The proof of a successful rescue is in the cutting. Just fine and dandy, slight curve to the plate not withstanding.

So now I'm thinking the TTS should probably have it back again; maybe I can provide tool rehabilitation in exchange for down payments on the Rogers Patent Mitre Planer? Yeah, should only take me about 20-30 years of rust removal... ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tool talk

Enough of this workshop productivity; time for frivolity. Dunno about the rest of the country, but Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and the mood came upon me to go out into the big wide world.

Okay, so to be strictly accurate, it came upon me to go and look at some rust that wasn't mine.

The tool gods apparently thought this was a Good Idea and smiled upon me, for barely had I reluctantly passed on a nearly new Stanley pin hammer and a unremarkable but crispy bradawl, but who should I then stumble upon? After a long, long gap, none other than The Tall Scotsman. (Yes, okay, so these days I know TTS's real name and need no longer describe him thus, but where's the fun in that?) We exchanged pleasantries, the dire state of tool dealing at the moment, and I was barely warmed up before he revealed he had recently tried, and failed, to sell a Rogers Patent Mitre Planer.

Kids! A Rogers Patent Mitre Planer! Anyone with a passing familiarity with my forum postings will be aware I have a something of a jones for this wondrous device. Where two woodworkers gather together to mutter about the Stanley #51/52, there will be Alf saying "Ah, yes, but what about the Rogers Patent Mitre Planer, eh?" To know there's one in the county at all, and for sale? Sheesh. So consider this a For Sale notice on a kidney. Your choice of left or right... Anyway, it seems the heathen still think the Stanley #52 is the dog's wotsits so at least I was able to bring enthusiasm and knowledge of the RPMP's existence to the party. And envy. Lots and lots of envy.

While still reeling from this information, I was lured in my weakened state to go and look through a couple of boxes of moulding planes, amongst which were some really nice examples. Some old ones too, including a Madox round, and a Nelson (but whether of London or the much earlier York, I couldn't make out), and some really nicely done repairs on well-worn side beads and whathaveyou. Some of them had as many as four or five previous owners names stamped upon them. Yes, I was desperately tempted, but the financial gods had seen fit to have my card ripped off last week, and until the new one comes I can't get any cash out. So I was pretty safe with only a fiver in my pocket. How else could I consider myself safe to step out to look at other people's rust? Anyway, it's early January. You don't expect to see anything worth having in early January.

So anyway, this lack of funds also luckily saved me from a crispy and complete Marples bow saw (with spare blades) and other goodies. Lucky, lucky me... But the conversation made up for it; it's rare to get a chance to talk tools face to face with someone who's eyes don't immediately glaze over. Alas, my time was, unfortunately tight (plus it was too perishing freezing to be standing about, nattering) and I had yet to visit my regular stop inside the market. But before I could get away, TTS, continuing the setting out of his wares, dragged a couple of saws out of his trailer, looked at them (they looked back, rustily), looked at me, and said "Here you go" or words to that effect.

I tried to give them back. I really did. Nope, he'd only bin them - take them. But he could at least sell the saw nuts, I pointed out. Nah, he'll just chuck them. And herein lies the problem. Like me, TTS, likes the tools as tools. The feel of them, the clever touches in design, or the way a previous owner has made it his. Breaking up tools to sell the bits does not really seem to be his thing. This is why I'm certainly never going to make my fortune from tools, and why I tried to give those saws back. Because while every fibre of sense in my being screams "Salvage the nuts and any of the plate that's worth having as scrapers and bin the rest", what actually happens if someone hands me a tool that's "had it", if there's even a glimmer of hope for that tool, I will try and rescue it. I will hate myself for doing it; I will swear and curse whoever let the poor thing get like that, but I will be compelled. And I need another tool to rescue like Chris Schwarz needs a another workbench...

So torn between gratitude and foreboding, I walked away with two saws. The top one's a straight-backed 6pt rip, nib all present and correct, that looks like it was never used. But the plate is fairly pitted and bent to boot. The other is a 22" Canadian Disston D8, 10tpi.

Yes, of course the handle of the rip has woodworm. It's a basket case.

But see how the saw nuts have never been tampered with? A fairly shapely handle too, just to rub salt into the wound.

The etch was lost to human sight on both, but I could just about make out "Disston" and "Canada" on the saw nut on the other one, under the rust. From looking at the Disstonian Institute, I reckon it dates from the mid- late-50s. Hah, modern crap. Only 50 years old... Previous owner didn't want to lose it and marked it with a diamond. Badly.

Probably the same guy who did the sharpening job on it. A more classic case of cows and calves you've never seen. Plate's all rusty, pitting front and back in one area and a slight curve along it too.

Yeah, they've "had it" all right. Bugger.

But in the meantime I popped into the inside market to check out the dealer in there. First up what do I see? The tidiest, cutest, most impractical workbench you've ever laid eyes on. A Sjobergs of the continental design, with a shoulder vice and tail vice. With wooden screws! But only about 3ft long all told. Threatened to tip over backwards if you breathed heavily on it, but an enterprising previous owner had braced the legs with ply and it actually resisted wracking pretty well.

Reader, I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Thank goodness for that luck of mine. Not only couldn't I afford it, but it would neither fit in the car to bring it home, or fit in the workshop. But if I could have found somewhere to put it, boy, I would have. It was just... cute. And yes, I'm sorry, I've come over a bit girlie about this. I wouldn't have painted it pink, if that helps at all.

Dragging myself away from that, I looked further and in quick succession fell over a tasty little metalworking lathe, two user-made infills of utter hideousness but strangely appealing, and a Footprint hand drill in beautiful nick but no chuck key (I believe Footprint were unique in offering keyed chucks on their hand drills. Can be very handy, as you'll appreciate if you've ever had one of those "Pull the drill away, leave the bit behind" moments). All remained where they were, and I reckoned I was getting away pretty lightly - until I had the Stanley Odd Jobs put in my hand.

On the plus side I don't have a jones for the Stanley #1 Odd Jobs. But I mean honestly, were the tool gods extracting the Michael here, or what? Was I doomed to fall over rarely seen tools in all directions, but only as long as I was strapped for actual cash? Possibly. Anyway, should you be unfamiliar with it, the Odd Jobs was supposed to be the device to fulfil all a carpenter's needs. With a hammer, a saw and an Odd Jobs you could build a house, or something like that. See? It did everything. There's a reproduction in production, if you're grabbed. I notice that PDF of the instructions show it with a four fold rule instead of the type Axminster supply; makes it rather more useful and ups the gizmocity levels a bit. This one was missing its rule, but I was able to supply a few pointers on finding the very information I've linked to above.

Anyway, at this point I'd had about as much as I could take, gave a low scream and beat a retreat, dragging the basket case saws behind me. Tomorrow I'll tell you what I did on Sunday.

Go on, guess.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Peters Principle

A couple of times in recent weeks, the subject of shooting boards has cropped up across the various fora. It often does. In particular the discomfort of using a regular Bailey pattern bench plane for the task. Now I confess I don't actually use a regular Bailey pattern bench plane for the task; I'm bevel-up/low angle plane rich and use one of them. Mainly the L-N low angle smoother, funnily enough - the least recommended for the job. No, I don't know why either.

But despite that, the problem has long intrigued me. L-N now offer "hotdogs" for their #9 mitre plane and their low angle jack and Derek Cohen has a step-by-step on fashioning you're own here. Which I hadn't actually read 'til now... Why? Because I never liked the look of a sausage sitting on the side of the plane, and wasn't that keen on the set screw either. But then I watched "The Alan Peters Approach" DVD.

Now in many ways this is a difficult DVD to watch, because Alan Peters was pretty frail by the time it was filmed. But if you can get past that, his skill and woodworking nous is still all there and there's plenty to glean from it. One of which is his attachment for a #7 when used for shooting. Essentially it's a shaped piece of wood that slips over the cheek of the plane, but it doesn't need a set screw to keep it where you want it, so it can slip off again equally easily. There's no close-up of it, which is fairly frustrating, but I was able to grab enough screencaps to give me something to work from.

Yes, dear reader, curiosity had got the better of me again, and I wanted to try to make my own. So I dived into the scraps box, came up with some likely-looking prototype materials and set to work. The sandwich technique seemed the obvious route, so I first traced the side profile of the plane onto the thin sandwich filling and bandsawed it out. The inner layer of sandwich is in two pieces - one to allow room in front of the blade and lever cap to remove same without having to take off the shooting grip, and the other shaped to fit against the rear of the frog.

I elected to glue the outer and middle layers together first.

Then the idea was to screw the inner cheeks on so I could adjust the thickness of the middle layer with a plane as required after trying it. As it turned out it fit just right straight off the bat, but the screws seem like a good idea anyway, and the danger of splitting apart the sandwich is obvious. Watch where you put them though - one of mine got dangerously close to the edge and, indeed, the point is just visible after the shaping stage. When fitting the rear inner layer, take some care in making sure it bears on the rear of the frog. It helps to put a bit of double-sided tape on it, offering up the outer and middle part of the sandwich to the plane cheek and then stick the inner layer in place to make sure its right.

As you can see, I went back to the bandsaw to curve the profile, then used chisel, spokeshave, and abrasives to refine the shape a little. Again, trial and error to get the best fit for your hand and shooting grip is inevitable. I did little more than round the corners and make a small depression for my thumb and the improvement in comfort was remarkable. If I was going to use it more, I'd probably do a little more work to create a relief for the heel of my hand too.

A wipe of finish just to make it tidy, and she's done. Overall dimensions are 7" long, 1 5/8" deep and 1" thick. You could make it a little deeper with advantage I think, but it's rock solid as it stands.

Well it sort of looks like the inspiration, anyway.

From the inside you can get a slightly better of idea of bearing points. The side profile of a Bailey pattern plane is actually pretty slippery, so important work is done by the rear inner layer bearing on the back of the frog and stopping the whole thing sliding forward. If it was a little deeper you could add an additional bearing point over the rib in front of the mouth, but it doesn't seem to need it.

Anyway, there we are. Might be useful to someone and my curiosity is assuaged. Oh, one word of warning though - I've tried this on all my other Bailey pattern planes, and it doesn't fit a single one. A combination of profile shape and casting thickness makes these a custom job for each individual plane.

And the Tools Used:

#7 jointer plane
2" G-clamp
3" G-clamp
Sliding bevel
Double-sided tape
Drill press
4mm brad point bit
2.5mm brad point bit
Slot head screwdriver
1 1/2" chisel
#63 spokeshave
Assorted abrasive papers

Edited to add Lee Valley Newsletter article, for another take on thing.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Second completed project of the year?!

Quite obviously I can't, and won't, keep up this relentless pace, but for some reason w'shop activity has hit a bit of a high at the moment. It's not a conscious new year resolution of anything - I wouldn't be so daft; they never work. It's just happened. Long may it continue.

So a bit of background to this one. Way back in 2006, somehow or other, Mike Wenzloff and I got into an exchange of tools. I gathered together a selection of things; Preston shave, Madox plane, callipers, 5" sweep brace, coupla bits I made - and Mike, funnily enough, sent me a saw (curly bubinga, styled after a Moulson, custom fit, absolutely gorgeous in all respects). But also, unexpectedly, the blade and screw assembly for a sliding bevel.

Now maybe I got carried away with all the beautiful tools recently posted on various fora's Secret Santa threads and the Old Tools List "Galootaclause", but when I rediscovered the blade over Christmas the momentum to actually make the body for it came upon me all of a sudden. Electrons were sacrificed, and there's no WIP because I was, quite honestly, winging it.

Materials are imbuya, from my stash of handle-making exotics, and three layers of veneer to make up the "gap". That took considerable trial and error to get right and needed a second attempt. Turns out it worked best to make the spacer slightly wedge-shaped.

A certain amount of trial and error getting the clamping screw/bolt/brass lever assembly set up so the lever doesn't stick out when clamped.

The relief in the body for the lever to sit in, by comparison, went really easily.

My stamping technique could use some work (doesn't get much practice...), but at the very least there's something out there that I made this year, and has the date on to prove it.

It'll probably be all down here from now on...

And because I think it might end up being instructive, I shall continue the Tools Used listing:

#3 plane
3" double square
18" rule
Thicknesser (Planer, if the reader dwells in North America)
Vernier callipers
Drill press
3/8" and 1/2" Forstner bits
7mm brad point bit
Craft knife
6" rule
3" G-clamp
1 1/8" firmer chisel
3/16" bevel edge chisel
3/8" in-canel gouge
6" fine cut half-round file
Mitre saw
Assorted abrasive papers, 180g and finer
Letter and number stamps
Sticking plaster (when the automatic punch device went critical)
Hammer (safer than automatic punch!)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A New Year

So, 2011, and my relentless pursuit for woodworking excellence continues on apace.

What? What's that? Are you laughing, gentle reader?

Yeah, me too... And so it is that my first completed project of the year is not something impressive in mahogany or walnut, but rather the long overdue refurbishment of the "interim" parrot perch. By "interim" I mean "In daily use for the past 10 or so years and I'll be making a nicer looking one any year now". That kind of "interim". For the first 9 years, it went pretty much unmolested, but then beaks discovered what jolly fun it was to excavate brass screws and incidentally isn't softwood nice and easy to chew? The result:

It's not what it was, dear reader, not that what it was was ever much. But at least it used to be slightly more dependable a target to land on. Not something held on by one screw and available for playing see-saws with...

I laid in a suitable broom handle some months ago, and finally decided that as a prelude to rediscovering the workbench top it'd help if the broom handle was part of the perch rather than skulling about in the tool tray. So into the w'shop with this offence to aesthetic sensibilities and out with the saw to lop off the haggard top.

Not bad, considering circumstances meant I had to do the sawing horizontally. I cleaned up some of the worst chewed corners with a large chisel and chamfered the top edges. Next, the new hole for the broom handle.

I elected to opt for a 1 1/8" or #18 Irwin or solid centre bit from my roll o' bits. One of my rolls of bits. We'll say nothing about the boxes and trays. Hardly a duplicate amongst them, I'll have you know... Anyway, for the uninitiated, the 18 refers to the number of sixteenths of an inch that make up the bit size. Thus a 1/4" bit might well be numbered "4" rather than "1/4", a 3/4" would be 12 and so forth. Very confusing when you first come across this and don't know the answer.

Now a #18 bit is fairly hefty and not much fun to drive with a 10" brace, so I bethought me this was an admirable chance to try out the Jolly Green Giant's Favourite Brace. So I did. Aside from the side effect of making the user of the brace invisible to human eye, it's a winner at boring big holes too. I did not so much as break sweat.

See? A doddle. And straightish too, which was a wonder.

Never being happy with the screws, I decided a couple of pegs would be preferable and less eye-catching to the psittacine mind. They were deliberately angled for a firmer hold.

Then sawn off flush. Figured I might as well replace the lower perches too, so it's looking almost respectable. Kind of.

The feathered critics seem happy at least, and that's the main thing. And no danger now of an indignant squawk when someone comes into land and ends up taking the perch with them all the way into a surprise visit with the window pane.

Simple job, but needed doing and at least it was w'shop time. No electrons used, but the "tools used" count is impressive enough:

Slot headed screwdriver
3" double square
Panel saw
1 1/2" chisel
1 1/8" Irwin bit
16" sweep brace
2nd cut half round file to tidy up the hole edges
Folding rule
Tenon saw
1/4" drill bit
Hand drill
Dowel plate
Flush cut saw
Abrasive papers, various to clean up, chamfer ends, etc

Anyway, actually completing something - anything - is a bit of a miracle start to the year. With luck, the standard of project will improve a bit though. Maybe something that isn't destined to be chewed...