I've built, rebuilt, and repaired a lot of things over the years. I had one bout with rebuilding an old BMW years ago. But other than that one episode, my inclination has been more towards wood and sawdust than grease and oil (easier to clean up and other reasons). I'd like to think my skills have improved a little over time.
In 1972 we had gone to Michigan on a two-week temporary assignment. The assignment went on and on, two weeks at a time for nearly a year. At some point in there I got incredibly stir crazy and decided to buy a Sears Radial Arm Saw. Back then you could make anything if you had a Radial Arm Saw! The girls were still in cribs but were ready for "big girl beds". I set the saw up in the basement of the apartment, bought some oak stair treads and hacked out little head and foot boards to be used with the springs and mattresses from the girl's cribs.
These littletwin beds were my first woodworking project. I don't remember what kind of finish I used on them, but it would be 20 years before I finally got a finish I liked. Pretty cute, huh? No, the girls, not the beds!
The bulk of my woodworking efforts for the next 10 years or so ran mostly to home improvement or home building. Thischopping block was built quite a while ago. It is maple with a tung oil finish. It has been lightly sanded and re-coated a few times, but has held up fairly well. The top has all-thread rods running through it ostensibly to help hold it together. I don't recommend this. When you tighten the rods on dry wood, the wood will get crushed when it expands in the summer, crushing the wood fibers and then the clamps are loose when it dries out again. Better to properly glue up the top and skip the rods. The tap handle in front of the scale was made for the local pub. I got two free pitchers of beer for it. (That doesn't count as "getting paid", does it?) We found the scale in a junk pile and I rebuilt it. It had been painted green when we got it. I put it in the strip tank and I remember seeing the words "Honest weight, No springs" appear and disappear as the green paint turned to gold and then to bare metal. The scale was fun. Made about 1920 by the Toledo Scale Company, it has nice brass hardware and a bubble vial to level it. It's quite accurate, too. (You should have seen the look on the postmaster's face when I asked him to weigh a bag of piano tuning pins I'd adopted as a weight standard... but that is another story)
Most folks spend time trying to hide stereo equipment and the wiring. This littlechest was my solution. It is made of cherry and finished with one of the early Bartley wipe-on products. Small Aiwa stereo components hang inside. The bottom of the cabinet is a perforated panel for cooling and wiring access.
A while back the travelling Woodworkers Shows were a new and wonderful idea. It was at one of these shows that I became fascinated with the Beall Wood Threader. If you have been to any of these shows you'll know what I mean. The Beall sales area was usually covered with an assortment of wooden nuts and bolts. I remember they had made a big wooden Stilsen wrench one time. Anyway, I bought one of these threading gadgets. I bought the full-up model for both right and left hand threads. With this gadget external threads are cut using a jig and a router, while the internal threads are cut with a large conventional-looking tap. So I get this thing home and I need to make something with it but I don't want to make another handful of nuts and bolts like on the salesman's counter, so I came up with theseturnbuckles. They're made of Walnut and finished with a spray lacquer from a can. The barrels were hollowed out using a horizontal mortiser and then turned on a lathe. The eyebolts were turned on the lathe to get the shape of the eye and the dimension for the threads. They were bored out in the center and finished with a round over bit in a router. These turnbuckles may have been the first of many projects that have absolutely no value whatsoever... except entertainment. (The brace is a Stanley 813G with a 1/2-inch RJ bit and a Stanley #49 nickel-plated depth stop).
This is the first fancyworkbench I made. I thought it would be cool to make a workbench with wooden vises all around since I had the equipment to make 1 inch wood screws. This is the design I came up with. Here's another view. It is made of Maple and finished with Hydrocote lacquer. The lacquer was put on by hand. There are tapped holes all around the bench; sides, ends, and top. Each vise worked with a pair of screws and they could be put most anywhere. About the time I decided to make the bench a friend approached me and said he had a piece of real heavy wood, and since I was a woodworker I might like to have it. He said he'd been using it to block up his car when he changed the oil. Well, it turned out the wood was Rosewood, the first I'd ever seen. I used it for a lot of small projects including the inlay in the vise screw handles on the bench and for the original bench dogs. The basic center tray design was driven by the size of the old Belsaw 12-inch planer I had then. After I glued up the 2 bench sections, I ran them through the planer and then joined them together with the tray and end caps. It is assembled with bolts through the stringers and clamps to hold the top on the leg assembly. Once assembled, all the screw holes were plugged with Rosewood. The bench breaks down quite completely.
The design worked fairly well. You do need a fair amount of time tosecure the work. And, you can really build up your wrists and forearms adjusting the vises. They are certainly not quick release, either! A while back I added a Veritas twin-screw end vise. Adding the new vise was fairly easy since the bench was designed to be taken apart. All I had to do was drill out the rosewood plugs and remove the nuts to free the old bench end cap. Notice the nice nearly-NIB Stanley #703 bench dogs which, very conveniently, fit the 5/8th inch round dog holes.
In 2002 I built my Yuppie Workbench. The Yuppie Workbench replaced this one on the clean side and this first effort got moved into thereal work area. I added a nice German side vise and I gets used a lot more now. The new side vise is one of the few that was big enough to suit my needs yet not so long as to limit closing by the edge of the center tool tray. I changed all the vise handles to make them match. The only thing I don't like about the new side vise is the hole for the handle is kinda puny. Oh well. Quick Index
At some point someone gave me abow saw kit. It came with three blades, a pair of pins to put in the handles, the pattern and a piece of string. Since I almost never make only 1 of anything, I fabricated some more hardware out of stove bolts and was able to come up with four saws. (Hacksaw blade for the fourth one.) I finished one with a wipe on product that I wasn't particularly satisfied with and the others remain unfinished. I haven't thought of a use for these things except as wall ornaments, as you can see. (The brace is a Miller Falls #732 with a 3/8th inch RJ bit and a Stanley #49 japanned depth stop...).
Thissideboard is the biggest piece of furniture I have built. The basic size and shape came from a Bartley catalog. They had something like this in a Queen Anne style. I scaled it from the catalog and gave it more of a shaker flavor. This was made during my "dovetail" period. The shelves are dovetailed into the vertical pieces. The vertical pieces are dovetailed into the carrier blocks and the carrier blocks are dovetailed into the top of the base unit. The legs are dovetailed into the sidepieces where mortise and tenons would normally be used. The front face pieces of the lower cabinet have dovetails connecting the horizontal and vertical pieces. The sideboard is made from Maple and stained, somewhat (big mistake). This was the last of the brush-on Hydrocote projects. Did I tell you the drawers are dovetailed, too? But, of course!
Thisbarrister bookcase was made to complement a file cabinet that was set next to it. Then we rearranged the furniture! Not much to say about it, really. I made it because I wanted this special size. It is oak, with a little stain and finished with Fornby's tung oil. I like Fornby's tung oil, but this project is on the extreme end of large, for a multi-coat wipe-on finish. The old tools are pretty, too, don't you think?
Theselittle totes were made mostly for Christmas presents. They are made of ash with hydrocoate water based stain, no filler. I think this was my first project using the HVLP sprayer. The dovetails are a little tricky here since both sides are angled outwards. The pieces must be tipped a little when they are put into the Leigh Dovetail Jig. Something the jig does not have provision for.
Every woodworker makesjewelry boxes at least once. I made one batch of them, 13 to be exact. There are only a few left. This is probably the only project I've made in multiples where the end result was not expected to be all the same size. The construction details are alike but the dimensions are different based on the best use of the wood I had. The boxes are made of Walnut and the interior trays are Maple. I used Hydrocote Water Based Lacquer for these, too. This may have been my last try with water based finishes. The boxes have mitered and grain-matched corners. The feet are all the same. There are several kinds of hardware (I bought most of what the store had to meet a Christmas deadline). The interior trays have box/finger joint sides and a simple glued on bottom. The trays were flocked with one of those Donjer flocking gadget; works well. In making multiples of small projects like this, there is always one that is smaller than the rest. This might be because of test cuts, or screw-ups, or whatever. I've found the smallest one is usually thought of as 'cute' and the most desirable. I usually keep that one for my wife! Here's another picture of one with a red interior. Note the gadget on the right. Some folks call it a smoke grinder. When you turn the handle it gets rid of smoke in the air. Don't see any do you? Some folks call it a BS grinder for the same reason. The biggest problem with these jewelry boxes is in the lid. It is fairly large on the bigger boxes. As a minimum the lock tends to be difficult in one season or the other and some of the lids will bow a little throughout the year. Got any nice quarter sawn cherry? Maybe I'll make another batch!
When we got a new computer I decided I didn't want to put it in a separate sanctum sanctorum. I made thiscomputer cabinet to be as compact as possible to use in the family room. One side is open for necessary cooling but the other side looks nice! The keyboard can be put inside and the whole thing put up against a wall you want to get it out of the way. The bottom shelf swivels out for access to the drives, and the keyboard shelf slides out and can be used for short sessions (not very comfortable, but it was made more for storage, anyway). I find the small extension will carry the mouse pad and a glass of wine while I run the keyboard from my lap. It is made of ash with a sprayed Deft lacquer finish.
Thecradles were made for our first grandson. We found an antique cradle in a shop that we liked. I took some basic dimensions from it and noted some of the details and eventually came up with the pattern for these. I made five altogether; optimism perhaps! These were made of oak salvaged from a barn or out-building from Bruceton, West Virginia.
I need to digress here for a moment to tell the wood story. It was January or February of 1996 when we decided to re-decorate the kitchen. We wanted a new cherry cabinet over the stove to carry a microwave and we needed to finally make the louvered doors for the little pantry (kitty's hidey-ho). We also decided to make oak floors to match the random plank floor in the family room. I started watching the classified ads in the newspaper for wood for sale. I found an ad for some and went to see what the fellow had to sell. This young man apparently was a wood worker wannabe, but had decided that his first efforts in pursuit of this goal would be to amass a selection of wood. He had collected about 4000 board feet of oak, cherry, walnut, and birch and had it all nicely stacked, stickered, end-sealed and dated. He also had a garage full of salvage lumber from this building in Bruceton, West Virginia. It may have been that he thought he was leaving town or it may have been that his spouse wanted her garage back, but he had decided to part with his collection. So, after some haggling I wound up buying everything he had. Moving the wood, building a shed to store it and a few other projects put the kitchen re-modeling on hold for another year.
Anyway, thecradles were made from some of this salvaged oak. It was a lot of work to get usable pieces of wood from this pile of mostly trash. I found some 18-inch wide boards, very old, very tight grain. Some boards had three layers of wallpaper with newspaper over that. The newspaper dated from 1922. I figure this stuff must have been growing before Columbus landed. This is me with one of the cleaned-up boards. I modified the design of the cradle in several ways. I used a frame and panel (panel is in the form of slats) arrangement for the bottom so the bottom would not split as the original one-board bottom had done. I dovetailed the corners of the sides and smoothed out the scrollwork some. The sides are simply screwed to the bottom; they should move together ok. The rockers can be removed. They have a tenon that fits a mortise formed by the bottom slats and they are held in place with a screw and fender washer. As with the little totes, the dovetails had to be cut with the pieces oriented slightly away from vertical in the Leigh jig, but I was ready for that this time. The wood for the sides of cradles was originally 1 inch thick barn siding and I planed it down to about 1/2 inch. The rockers were originally floor joists. This old wood is pretty nasty to work with, but instant antiques don't come easy. Of course, they look a lot nicer when occupied by a pretty baby! Quick Index
I did finally get the kitchen redone. I refinished all the original cabinets and put innew counter tops. This is the new cabinet that carries the microwave. When I made the original cabinets, I didn't have a good way to make consistent wide panels for the cabinet doors. I just used a joiner to bevel the edges and made clips to hold the panels in the doors. That scheme worked well enough for 20 years so I made the new ones the same way. Carolyn wanted hardwood flooring in the kitchen to match what we had in the family room. The family room floor was store bought'n Bruce flooring. It is random length 3,5,7-inch width with plugged ends. The area in the kitchen was so small, I made the new flooring from my recently acquired woodpile, and installed it by hand. Since each piece I made was straight and flat, installing the new floor was like laying tile. I simply set the board in place, drilled a few pilot holes and drove in some screw nails. The color match is not perfect even though I used the same 'color' stain. Different material manufacturers and 20 years difference was too much to over come. The seam between the old and new floor is (conveniently) under the kitty.
Some projects are part rebuild and part refinish. Thissewing machine cabinet is mostly new work. The original veneered top was pretty well shot on this sewing cabinet. I kept the drawers and made a new top, flip lid, and sewing machine surround. The cabinet now houses a modern machine. The sewing box in the foreground is a refinish/repair effort.
These littlemachinist's toolboxes were started a long time ago, before the cradles, and before we thought of re-doing the kitchen. But, I finally finished them. Each has five drawers. They are made of ash and finished with sprayed on Chemcraft Pre-catalyzed Lacquer. The basic dimensions were, again, lifted from an antique in a store. I made the back with a raised panel rather than using a nailed-on board as on the original. I had an idea for hardware that would keep the draw from being easily pulled out of the carcass. I was going to put a bullet catch in the back corners of each drawer. When the draw was pulled out the ball would drop into the little divot on the slide. This arrangement worked pretty well, but it was a little stiff. With the hard rubber feet I put on the bottom, the chests tend to walk around as the drawers are pulled out, so I didn't bother installing them. You can see some of the construction details. The front panel is made with three boards. Made like a bread-board end table, the center board is dovetailed into the two end pieces. You can see the dovetailed assembly on the right side of the picture. The dovetails are glued only at the top so the panel can move around. Making the cutouts for the little escutcheon for the lock was a little tricky and each one was ever so slightly different. The most satisfying phase of a project, or at least the time I like my work best, is when all the machine works is done but the project is still unfinished.
Thisshadow box is one of three. They were made to hold a salt shaker collection and Sandra has two of them. I think I've finally gotten rid of most of the ash.
Most recently I've been intrigued with thesesnake and whale puzzles I've come up with. A fellow named Chapman in Virginia has been making them and selling them for years. I first saw them in a gift shop in Williamsburg many years ago. Chapman contributed an article detailing the process and his products to Wood magazine. The article had plans for a little fish key-chain thingy and I made a couple of those out of some rosewood scraps. (Remember my friend's board, I'm still getting projects out of it.) The little fish were not very exciting but I also made a handful out of walnut and maple. The kids like those. (Yes, I know, I need to work on the focus, not much depth of field on this one.)
I ordered a box of scrap exotic woods from a place in Grafton, Vermont. The box contained about 20 pieces of 1 x 1 x 12 inch chunks of mostly cocobolo. I made theselittle snakes out of the cocobolo. They were roughed out on a bandsaw, shaped on drum sander, hand sanded to 320 grit, and then polished on a buffing wheel. After they were polished they were cut out with a scroll saw and then each piece polished up again before being put back together.
I was pretty pleased with these until someone said "Gee, they look more like slugs, than snakes". His comment sort of took the shine off the project; they do look more like slugs! The little 1 x 1 pieces of wood don't allow a lot of detail. Anyway, making these things is a lot of fun. You can take a stick and make it come to life in a few hours. Instant gratification, like lathe work!
After my first efforts were so soundly trounced, I decided to spend some big bucks on real pieces of wood and see what I could do using a bandsawn puzzle rather than the tiny scroll saw. I made these 9big snakes from various woods. They come from a basic 2 x 2 x 30 inch blank. All of them are made from various exotic hardwoods, except the bottom one, which is made from cherry. The exotic wood can be polished to a high shine and doesn't need any kind of finish. The one in cherry has a lacquer finish. The woods are, from top to bottom. Ziricote, Bocote, Comotillo, Granadillo, Cocobolo, Honduran Rosewood, Snakewood, Purpleheart, and Cherry. Oh, one of the whales is Walnut and the other is Purpleheart.
Here are threewalnut whales before they were puzzled out. The walnut whales had to be finished with lacquer and then carefully cut out to prevent damaging the finish. Here's another snake and whale picture. These things were kinda fun to make.
This is aplayer piano roll cabinet. The cabinet is a copy of an original pre-1920's cabinet we have. The original is in Mahogany. It was pretty beat up when I got it but I repaired and refinished it. I had picked up a piano, a bench, a roll cabinet and 200+ plus piano rolls. The piano was a low end unit and in too sad shape to rebuild. I did make it work after a fashion and was able to sell it. I kept the rest of the stuff, hence the need for the additional roll cabinet. The new cabinet is made from some of the hundred-year-old salvage oak I've been fooling with. Here's another unfinished picture. I had a piece of plywood that I thought I would use for the back, but it turned out to be too small. I stretched it a little by making this paneled back. See the little plane on the set-up table? It is a Stanley #278 from about 1920. I figure I'm the youngest part of this project! Here's the finished cabinet. It easily holds 120 rolls, more if you pack them in tight.
I made a pair of thesestack cabinets. They took ten months to complete. They were started in July of 1999. We've taken to calling them 'parts' cabinets. That's a very generic name for something that took so long to complete, eh? We have been fascinated with the various forms of 1930's office furniture. There were many 'stack-it-your-way' manufacturers. You could buy assemblies consisting of the common barrister's bookcase units, legal and letter size file cabinets, card files, invoice drawers, etc. We've seen a lot of different configurations in the antique malls, but they were never in a configuration that was really useable for my purposes. For example, the card file drawers have a big slot cut in the bottom. The invoice drawers were really neat but were actually too thin to use for anything other than paper.
Anyway, my wife and I both liked the design of these old cabinets with all the little drawers and all the brass hardware, so I decided to make something in the 1930s style. Mine would be a little more practical, at least more oriented to my applications. Hence, the "parts" cabinet designation. They are general catch-all cabinets in my shop. They are made from more of the salvage oak, with the drawer parts supplied by various secondary wood. The basic appearance came from a cover on aVeritas hardware catalog.. It was a simple guide that I used to draw my basic plan.
Anyway, each pair has fourstacked 'units', a base, and a top. There are 58 drawers in each stack. They are frame and panel construction; frame and panel on the ends and a modified frame and panel construction in the partitions for the drawers. The drawers have oak faces, and the sides are dovetailed in the front, mortised in the back, with a thin plywood bottom. The hardware was inexpensive. I bought it from Lee Valley. I drilled all the holes in all the drawers in advance. Imagine my disappointment when I found that the Taiwanese hardware I had bought from Lee Valley was so inconsistently manufactured that many of the holes in the hardware did not line up with the holes I had drilled. Oh well! I made some adjustments, and the remaining small misalignments will disappear with time. Right? Here's a picture of the pair.
I made a bunch of thesepens. I'm not sure how (as in how I got talked into it...) I wound up making these, but I did. I had always looked at these kits thinking it was a shame to spend $4 - 5 for kit parts to make something that can be had 20 for a dollar. Anyway these will be mostly gifts. They are made from the scraps of exotic wood left over from my snake puzzle adventure. There's cocobolo, rosewood, camatillo, bocote, zericote, snakewood, and purpleheart. I think the biggest challenge in making these was figuring out how to accurately turn them on a standard 36-inch lathe... the tolerances need to be within 1 or 2 thousandths of an inch.
I made this unusual littlemusic box for SWMBO. It's cut from a solid block of macassar ebony... pretty hard stuff. .
This is myYuppie Workbench. I got a deal on the fancy vises and made the bench out of cherry, walnut and fancy mahogany crotch veneer. The full story is here.
This is my design for a chute board. This was really built before the workbench above and was part of my display cabinet project.There was a lot of molding to install to keep the glass in place in the display cases I built to house my old tool collection. (Pictures of the cabinets are under Old Tools..) I would usually use a power tool for most miters but there were LOTS of miters here... lots of small precision miters! The old commercial chute boards, like the Stanley #51/52 require you to flip the fence for miters left and right. Plus, you get to pay big money for one today!
My chute board provides two fences, one right and one left, seperately adjustable. Here's a
view of the other side.
Mine is made of cherry. I used some of that reduced friction plastic for the plane to run on. If the solid
cherry base moves any, I can put paper shims under the plastic to level it up. Mr. Lie-Nielsen provided
the #9 to go with it and graciously provided the high gloss matching cherry handles on the plane! I made
a couple of wooden sticks to extend the bases of some plastic
triangles, which can be used to set standard angles. One of the 'features'
of my chute board is that as you swing the back board stops through the available cutting angles, the front
edge of the stop remains aligned with the chute board plane track, right up to the edge. There's
a board on the bottom
that lets me secure the chute board in my bench vise. It can be removed to clamp it in other places with
I made theseroll-around workbenches at the same time as the Yuppie Workbench. The bases are walnut with a cherry top. The back panels are matched walnut burl veneer. I re-jappanned the green Yugoslovian end vises. These get used for more than just woodworking. I have a piece of plexiglass sheet that bolts to a board that can be secured in the vise. It provides removeable protection from oil and other debris from non-woodworking projects.
This is aSchnitzelbank, german for shave horse. I had this super oak plank that was part of the salvage wood I bought. It was about two inches thick and it looked like a shave horse to me. Plans are available here. You can buy them through this site. But, if you are cheap like me, all the info you need is right there on the web site. Many plans call for metal parts for holding it together or for pivots on the arm. Mine has only wood components. Most assembly is with through and wedged dowels. The pivot is a dowel that is friction fit and can be tapped out with a light mallet.
I've been making finger-jointed boxes. I have some turning tools and a set of bench chisel that need storage boxes. Since I rarely make just one of anything (in case something goes wrong) there are ten boxes in progress for the tools. While I am in this box making mode, I asked SWMBO if she wanted any. She offered that a walnut recipe box would be nice. So, there are three of those. She also has these little sets of salt and pepper shakers. There are 6 pairs, so each guest can have a set of their own. There are four boxes for those. Then I had all these scraps of thin wood that were leftovers from the bigger boxes. So there are eleven little boxes for some small wooden puzzles. There are four small boxes with sliding lids that SWMBO will use to give away some pens I made. How many is that? Here is the pile of boxes so far.
There is nothing special about making the boxes. Finger jointed boxes are pretty common. What I think is different and may be of interest to folks is the jig I use for the joints. Most folks have seen the box joint jig that consists of a fence with a little stop projecting near the blade. What you are supposed to do is cut a slot and then move the board so the slot straddles the stop and then you cut another slot, etc. I never built one of these, so I'm not sure of this. But, the design seems rather in-elegant and difficult to adjust.
My finger joint jig will cut perfect joints of any size with almost any blade combination you choose. There! Does that sound like marketing or what! I rely on 16 TPI all-thread rod as the positioning mechanism. I use a carrier which holds all the pieces for one box and cut them all at the same time. There is a dial indicator for precise movement and positioning of the carrier. The carrier holds the pieces to be cut. There is not much special about the design. My only requirement was to be able to clamp the pieces together in a carrier that slides along the fence piece. I think the most important part of the carrier is that it has arms that keep it upright and linked to the fence. This is important since you certainly don't want the assembly falling over into the saw blade while you are making adjustments. The all-thread is supported in two places, one has a nut epoxied into it and the other is simply a support sleeve.
Here are the simple directions for its use. Say you have a 1/4 inch dado blade set up to cut the slots. You would assemble your four box pieces in the jig. Clamp two sides against the stops on the carrier and two sides offset from the first by 1/4 inch. Use a replaceable backer board behind the assembly to prevent chip out. Turn the all-thread to position the carrier so the first cut is 1/4 inch into the clamped up assembly. Make the first cut. Now turn the all-thread 8 turns. 4/16ths for the uncut tab and 4/16ths more to position the assembly for the next cut. Make another cut and add 8 more turns until the whole assembly is complete.
The reality is your dado blade probably does not make a 1/4 inch cut. It can be oversize or undersize, affected by wobble and run out, hence the need for finer adjustment. My jig has a dial indicator on the end that will let you dial up something more accurate than simply 1/16th per turn. This is a little difficult to explain, but here is an example. I found that for these joints I was making with my 1/4 inch dado blade set, I got the best joints when I added 12/16ths to the slot and made the associated tongue 4 turns plus the 4/16ths. Notice that when you make proper division between the slot and the tongue, e.g., for each slot and tongue pair, you will always start the pointer at zero. Note that the dial simply rides on the all-thread and the pointer is secured to the all-thread with a pair of nuts. You can make any size joints with any size blade. Needless to say a flat bottom blade works best.
I only glue the finger joints at the bottom of the slot. I make the joint tight enough so no additional clamps are need after the joint has been securely and squarely pressed together. You need to make the fingers longer than the thickness of the sides. I go a little further in that for these boxes I made the fingers 1/2 long. This makes it easy for me to add 1-inch to inside dimensions to get the box size I'm shooting for. Here are some of the cut pieces and glued sides.
Well, I have finally finished this little exercise. The box building effort seemed more worthwhile when I started, but done is done. This air dried walnut takes on a nice coloration when finished. Some of the boxes are for SWMBO. Here are the boxes for the salt and pepper shakers and a couple of recipe boxes. Some of the boxes hold chisel sets. Another batch hold my lathe turning tools. This walnut wood is pretty wild. Coupled with the sap wood, the boxes are, er... interesting. These left overs are too small too finish effectively. Some are puzzles. There are a series of blocks inside that are somewhat difficult to get back intop the box once removed. The long thin ones are for pens I made. SWMBO gives them away. There's a couple others. I put small turning chisels in one of them.
In 2003 Ben Knebel and Doug Evans had started the Shepherd Plane Company and were selling an assortment of ready made planes and plane kits. † There were rave reviews of the products so I purchased three of their kits. I bought their 1 Ĺ inch shoulder plane, a Spiers No. 1 Panel plane, and a Spiers No. 7 Smoother. † What follows is a description of my experience building the shoulder plane.
Making the Shepherd Shoulder Plane:
The kit consists of three steel plates with rough cut interlocking dovetails.† You get three pieces of wood, the front/toe piece, the blade ramp and the wooden wedge. † You get a metal wedge-wear-plate, and you get the steel rivets to hold the whole thing together. † Hereís a picture of the kinds of parts provided with the three plane kits. These are the side plates and sole piece for the shoulder plane.†The objective is to precisely fit the side plates and sole together with the wooden pieces in between, whack the daylights out of the dovetail joints with a ball-peen hammer until the joints magically disappear, whack the rivets into place, and then polish up the whole grungy assembly. † Along the way the various metal and wood pieces are polished to a fine finish. † The blade is sharpened, and when assembly is complete, fine shavings will be made. This was advertised to take about four hours.
What follows in excrutiating detail is my experience with the shoulder plane. I assembled this first kit over a weekend. Let me say right here, it came out beautiful! † You can skip this section and go down towards the end of this piece for pictures of the completed planes.
I found a scrap of oak, ripped it, kerfed it, cut the 5 and 15 degree guide blocks that are used as guides for the file when fitting the steel dovetails. I drilled a couple more holes for lamps in the bench near the machinists vise; can't have too much light, right? I loaded a new one-edge-safe bastard file into a handle and double checked the instructions. I chaulked up the file and made the first file cuts on the right side plate. dovetails. Elapsed time: 1 hour
The safe edge on the file is not quite safe enough for my liking. † When pushing it at 15 degrees there is some slight marring from the teeth on the other side. † I took it to the grinder and gave that safe edge a small bevel. † I finished filing the sides and sole. The sides mostly dropped into the sole plate. † I had to take two more file passes on one end of one side. † These pieces may be looser than what I should have been aiming for, but I'm not sure. † I'll have to wait and see how the pieces close up when I whack 'em. † I fitted the wedge wear plate in place. † I tapped the provided bolts through the front/toe wood piece to clear out the holes. † Set up the drill press to complete the drilling of the heel/ramp piece; the holes weren't drilled all the way through. †† I dropped the front wood and the rear ramp wood pieces in between the steel side pieces. This is where I encountered the first minor problem.
The front/toe wood piece does not sit flush on the wedge-wear-plate. † This is because the undercut was not made deep enough. † This is the cut out that is supposed to set on the wedge-wear-plate. As you slide the wood into the plane it stays where it should until it hits the wedge-wear-plate.But when pushed all the way in so that the bolts can be inserted, then the cut out in the wood is riding up on the wedge wear plate. It only took a couple minutes to hack out a little more wood to make it fit. With the bolts installed in the side plates, the wedge-wear-plate is now mostly tight and nearly flush all the way across. † There is a .002 or .003 inch gap at one edge above the wear plate. † This will likely 'disappear' during the finishing.
Then I wanted to see how this heel/ramp piece lines up with the ramp in the mouth. † I wanted to do whatever is necessary to minimize working any problems in this area after the planes has been assembled. † Elapsed time: 2 hours
I wanted to check the alignment of the heel/ramp block of wood with the ramp and angle of the mouth in the steel sole. † For starters the bolts would not fit through the holes in the side plates. † With my plastic calipers I could only detect a difference in the order of .001 inch, the difference between the threaded area on the provided bolts and the shank on the bolts. † Since the holes in the side plates need to be chamfered in later steps, I got out my tapered reamer and enlarged the holes just enough for the bolts. † This is kind of important because not only do the bolts not fit, but the rivets don't fit either. † The rivets are a good .005 inch bigger than the bolts but I'll leave the fitting of those until later in the assembly. I reamed the holes out enough to accept the bolts provided.
The heel/ramp piece is chipped at the top outside edge. I used a piece of 100 grit paper from an old sander belt to round off the chipped area. † I then used 150, 220, and then 320 grit on the rounded area and the bearing surface of the ramp until all the marks were gone. † A couple seconds on the buffer makes this piece nicely finished. I inserted the newly polished heel/ramp piece and put the bolts through it. † The angle of the wooden piece aligns quite nicely with the angle of the mouth in the sole, but only if pressure is applied to the mouth end of the heel/ramp wood. † I can't think of anyway to adjust the wood closer to the metal sole (short of enlarging the holes in the wood) so I'm going to assume the wedge will keep the wood tight if the peening doesn't move the pieces closer together. † The gap, though I can't measure it, is in the order of .015 to .020 under the wood at the throat bevel in the sole.
It will likely get scratched again when I cut the metal out of the mouth side plates, but I took this opportunity to finish the wood inside the mouth of the front/toe wood. † Same deal, 150 - 220 - 320 grit and then a pass over the buffer leaves the inside of the mouth looking 'finished'. (This will turn out to be a waste of time as noted below.)
I'm ready to fit the bolts. † I figured now would be a good time to champher the holes for the wedge wear plate so that peening would really lock the plate in place. † This seems to me like a good thing to do, but not called for in the instructions. Elapsed time: 3 Ĺ hours
While I was doing the final fitting I figured I'd better clean up the inside of the side plates where the wedge fits. I wouldn't want to be doing show and tell and have someone see the inside of the rusty side plates.
At this point, before assembling the sides, I changed my mind and decided to drill out the wooden pieces to better fit the rivets. † I used a ľ inch drill and the rivet pins are still very tight in these. † I'll ream the side plates bigger when I get ready to actually install the rivets. † Elapsed time: 5 hours
I'm ready to start peening. With everything bolted up and ready to go, there is a space under the wood between the wood and the sole plate. The space is .015 inch at the front and .018 at the back. † I can't think of anything I can do about it short of re-drilling the wood. † I'm not willing to do that. † If it doesn't close up some during the peening process I'm sure a nice stiff wax crayon will fill the small area. † With the jig plates installed the whole assembly rocks quite a bit on the 'anvil'. † A few taps with a wood block and the peening hammer takes care of most of it. † I wonder what moved? † I wrote the peening sequence on the plane rather than trying to glance back at the booklet.† Here's my 'anvil'. It's a 50# plate balanced on some 4 x 4 cut offs. † It walks around some when I whack it. † Maybe I should screw the legs to the plate, eh? † Maybe for the next project.
I started whacking/peening the side plates. † Itís not hard to hit the side plate dovetails with the flat face of the hammer. † When I got to the tiny pins near the mouth I figured I'd be a little more cautious. † I took the drive rod out of a gadget for driving nails in concrete. † The end is a flat rod about 3/16ths in diameter. † This worked pretty well on the small dovetails at the mouth and later for the finishing strokes where the ball on the peening hammer was supposed to be used. † Elapsed time: 7 hours
peening the sole and the side is finished. † I'm fairly satisfied with the peened joints so far. † There is a space at the mouth I don't like. I can't tell what kind of a problem it is until I get those side doohickies cut out.
Now on to the rivets. The rivets are plenty long enough but rough cut. I chamfered the ends so they would start in the holes better. † I elected to do one rivet at a time, e.g., I took out one bolt and installed the rivet, took out another bolt, put in that rivet, etc. † I used a tapered reamer to chamfer the sides of the holes in the side plates. † On the first couple holes I added a few cuts with an oval file at the top and bottom of the hole. † Doug had suggested this to keep the rivet from turning. † I decided it was too difficult to fully peen into this cut out and only did it on two of the rivets. † As hard as it was to insert these pins I doubt they will ever turn. † I used the reamer until I felt enough metal had been removed. † I used scotch tape to hold a couple of the provided washers over the hole and then used the machinist's vise to press fit the rivets into place.
After the rivets were installed I started grinding off some of the banged up sole and side plate munge with my belt sander. † I wanted to see if these joints were really going to disappear. † I fooled around on the belt sander long enough to watch some of the rivet joints and some of the dovetail joints disappear. † I'm thinking this thing may come out pretty good! I didn't take it down to fully finished side or sole. † I figured I'd wait till all the metal is cut out. † Besides the whole assembly was getting too danged hot to hang on to, even with leather gloves on. Elapsed time: 8 hours, 45 minutes
I Started cutting out the little triangular support doohickeys at the mouth. † I should have bought better quality hacksaw blades! †† But, still, it didn't take long. Elapsed time: 9 hours and 15 minutes
There is a space between the sole plate and the side plate at the mouth. † I cleaned it out using feeler gauges and compressed air. † The space is more than .008 inch on the worse side, less on the other side. After making sure the space was clean as I could get it, I clamped the plane to my anvil plate and used my punch thingy to drift the side plate into the sole plate. The joint won't likely disappear like the rivets and the dovetails but it may be ok. † Elapsed time: 9 hours and 35 minutes
When the blade is inserted it sits above the machined ramp in the sole. I started filing the wooden heel/ramp piece and the ramp opening in the sides of the plane. † Three hours later I've changed the pitch of the heel/ramp and the ramp in the side plate to match the ramp (mouth bevel) in the sole. † I used a 4 inch flat bastard file and a stick with 100 grit sand paper on it, then 150 grit paper to change the angle of the ramp.
I've cleaned the blade to remove the manufacturer's marks. † (No, not the Shepherd marks, the raw steel manufacturer's marks.) † I've re-ground the blade to get a bevel on the pointy end. † As provided the blade is more blunt than a butter knife! † Elapsed time: 12 hours and 20 minutes
Iím not certain what to do next. † The mouth is already .037 after starting to flatten the sole. † (I remember it was about .020 + when I started putting it together.) † When I started to flatten the sole I was hitting the mouth almost immediately. † I smoothed an edge on a piece of scrap aluminum. † I clamped the plane on my bench with the sole up in the air. I positioned the aluminum over the cutter-side of the mouth opening, raised the other end of the aluminum with a small metal rule, and whacked the mouth area with the ball-peen hammer. † My thinking is that by hammering the mouth a little lower it will be the last area to get flattened when I do the sole and this will minimize making the mouth opening larger. It should also help with the bearing surface for the cutter. † This metal does seem awfully soft and movable.
I started finishing the opening in the side of the plane. Needless to say my efforts at pre-finishing the wood parts before installing them was a waste of time. † Now I'm starting to work the metal and the wood in the mouth area so that they are all in alignment. † Lots of filing and sanding to do here. Elapsed time: 13 hours and 20 minutes
The wood and metal all around the side opening in the plane is pretty smooth and level. † Not fully finished yet but ok for now. Next, back to the belt sander to flatten the sides and sole. † Elapsed time: 15 hours and 35 minutes
The sides and sole are flat. † The sides are square to the sole. † I think the joints are ok. † I can see a small line here and there. † About like other planes of this type that I've seen. † The mouth is pretty big at nearly .050; this is a little disappointing. † But, given the opening I started with I doubt it could have turned out much better. †
I couldn't resist the urge to try to take a shaving or two. † Even though the iron has not been sharpened (honed) it looks like the plane will at least 'work'. How well remains to be seen. By the way, here is what the mouth looks like after drifting the metal closed, right side, and left side Elapsed time: 16 hours and 15 minutes.
So, what's left?
Level the wood on the outside of the plane flush to the side plates.
Sand out the planer marks on the wedge.
Sand and polish the whole business.
Scary sharpen the iron.
I covered the sides and sole with two layers of masking tape. This will provide protection from dings while I grind down the wedge wear plate and form the wood to the contour of the side plates.
I ground most of the metal off the wedge wear plate with a disk sander. I then started on the wood and side plates with a reciprocating drum sander. † This wasn't working too well. † For one I was getting a lot of chatter and two, I couldn't get inside the small radii. † I chucked a small dowel in the drill press and wrapped some stik-it paper around it. † I started with 150 grit and worked through 220 and 320. † The dowel fit the radius and since the paper only stuck to the dowel and not to itself I wound up with a small flat sander. † This worked well to make a smooth finish especially in the finer grit. Elapsed time: 19 hours and 15 minutes.
The wood and side edges are done to 320 grit. † I took the masking tape off and did some hand work on the sides to remove some minor scratches. The metal is really soft and easily marred. † I don't know if this is a good thing or not. † Harder metal would not be so inclined to flow in the dovetails, eh? †† I didn't do anything to the chamfered edge on the side plates. † They have tooling chatter marks but I couldn't think of a way I could readily improved on them.. besides I'm running out of patience. Elapsed time: 21 hours and 15 minutes.
All that is left is to finish sanding and final fit the wedge and then buff the whole plane. † Buffing brings up a pretty good size check on the inside of the front 'knob'. † I filled it with a black finishing crayon after making certain it wasn't radiating from one of the rivet holes.
The buffing is done. † There are a couple places I could have sanded a little more (ain't that always true?) † I've honed the iron and I'm finally done. † Sure looks nice and purty! ...and it actually works well, too. Elapsed time: 22 hours
Here's another glamour shot .
Well, needless to say it took me a tad over the four hours the Shepherd folks were advertising to complete this plane. † I don't like the check in the front knob, though it is small. † I was expecting a smaller mouth than what I wound up with. † I'm not much of a hand plane user per se, so I can't say with any authority if the mouth size is a big deal or not. The only other shoulder plane I own is the LN-73 and it has an adjustable mouth. † I'm certain every set of problems encountered with a kit will be somewhat different. † I was able to find satisfactory solutions (perhaps compromises) to the problems I encountered. † This plane is not going to compare to a Holtey but it didn't cost anywhere near what a Holtey costs. † It's very pretty and it works. † I'm pretty pleased with it. No, very pleased with it. †
Here are some pictures of the other two plane kits parts. pic1, pic2, pic3, and pic4.
I went on to complete the Smoother and then the Panel Plane. There were a lot of quality control problems with these kits, quality and delivery problems that eventually, IMO, led to the demise of the company. For example, the mouth on the shoulder plane was chipped and the wood had checks in many places. The wood had rough lower edges and chips that had to be filled with lacquer on both the Panel Plane and the Smoother. For the Panel Plane, the instructions were wrong, with a mix of instructions for different planes. The holes were drilled improperly for the lever cap on the Panel Plane. The handle was too thin for the cut out on the Panel Plane. The wood was all different color and texture, one piece looked like It had the remnants of a rough sawing operation, e.g., tear out. The lever cap for the Smoother had no logo on it, and on the replacement cap the logo was not centered. The mouth block was missing on the Panel Plane kit. One shoulder kit had no bolts (3/4 inch).
Anyway, I completed the Smoother (pic1, pic2, and pic3) , and then the Panel Plane (pic1, pic2). I guess for the price and the entertainment value, I'm still pretty satisfied in spite of the many problems. Before I got bored with the whole process I built a couple more of the Shoulder planes. Here are pictures of my fleet of Shepherd Planes, pic1, pic2, and pic3.
I'm sure the folks who paid for kits never received feel less kindly than I do, but it is really a shame the Shepherd folks went out of business. They had a great idea and nearly a great product. They were not great business men and had some other set backs along the way. I wish them well...
After the Shepherd plane making efforts, I decided to try my hand at making spokeshaves. A lot of folks had made then from instructions on John Gunterman's "Teach Shave" page. There are quite a few suppliers of blades. I liked the three different blade sizes, and the pricing, offered by Kevin Brennan of Kansas City Windsor Tool Works . I made my pattern by taking a photograph of a suitable manufactured wooden shave and then scaling the picture up and down to create three different sizes. I made 15 spokeshaves in all. They all have brass wear plates. The plates are glued and screwed in place and then the heads of the screws were polished off flush with the brass plate. I made some in Cherry, Cocobolo, and Granadillo. These are Cherry and Cococolo. These are Granadillo. These are Cocobollo. I didn't try to use anything fancy for blade adjustment. I found a few paper shims inserted between the blade and the body gave me all the adjustment I needed. As is usually recommended, I set one end of the blade very tight for a fine cut and the other end a little looser for a more coarse cut. This is one of the big ones in use. This is one of the smaller ones. And, here is a picture of the whole lot.
The Pennsylvania built-in project consists of building a paneled wall, a built-in bookcase and a new fireplace mantle and surround.There's a little detour to paint the front rooms and put in a floor where the two story foyer was.
The floor plan for the new place is really nice. It is generally very open and very bright. But, the living room and family room run together with no seperation of function. This picture shows the problem. The living room and family room are joined by a 6-foot framed opening. I'm going to close up the opening and panel the wall on the family room side. I'll do a built-in on the Living Room side. We don't much like the fireplace and the slate surround so we plan on replacing that also. Notice in the picture there is a column standing there by itself. We don't like that very much either, so that will be made part of the foyer wall.
I started by framing in the wall from the errant post. When the dry wall work was finished, I framed in the opening between the two rooms. I have quite a bit of wood stashed in the shed (If you are interested in the "wood story", look under Woodworking Prjoects, then Cradles). I have a lot of Black Walnut, but it is generally poor quality, lots of knots, nothing very clear for any length or width. This is the design I came up with to make maximum utilization of the wood at hand. The paneled wall will provide a darkish background for the TV and stereo equipment planned for the room.
I thought I would be able to re-saw the boards I have and glue up book-matched pieces to make the panels. But, the wood just is not quite thick enough for that to work. I tried out my new MiniMax shaper, a stile and rail set, and a raised panel cutter. They seem to work well. I made the test-cut stiles and rails 4-inches wide. I do not know if that bodes well for the project as my sketch calls for 3-inch stiles. I tried making a simple flat panel but that design was pretty unexciting. I found I can get a pretty good looking panel as long as I edge glue two pieces from the same board. The color and grain match well enough to be acceptable. I glued up 55 blanks. That is 5 more than I need, but I expect some mistakes and test cuts along the way. The glued up panels are 0.90 thick. I expect them to move a little as the wood decides where it wants to go after the first rough planning. The finished thickness for the panels will be 0.70 thick.
I still wasn't certain how to approach building and installing the paneling. Should I do just one row at a time? Should I just go ahead and make all the pieces? I settled on just making the first row. The first row gets 12 x 24 inch panels whereas the panels in the rows above are 12 x 12. I made the 10 panels , the horizontal rails, and the vertical stiles. I kept these clamped and watched the humidity until I was able to spray on the pre-cat lacquer.
Along the way I rigged up a spray booth of sorts out in the shed. A couple of attic fans mounted in a sheet of plywood and wedged under the roll-up door work for ventilation. A piece of peg board screwed to some 2 x 4's and my strip tank work as a drying rack Some plastic, a roll-around box with a lazy suzan on top complete the spray area.
I was concerned about how difficult it would be to keep the stiles aligned perfectly vertical while tapping the panels into place. As it turned out the stiles grabbed and held pretty well with no appreciable movement, though I did check them after each panel was installed. I installed all the panels and their stiles for the first row, and then put on the top rail. The top rail was the most exciting part! But, I got it hammered in place without moving any of the stiles. As one would expect, only the stiles and rails are glued. The panels are tight but free to move around. The biscuit slots in the top rail will let me mount a chair rail without visible nails or screws. The top rail is screwed to the studs in both the old and new framing
I decided it would take way too long to get this job done if I only finished on one row at a time. I made up all the rest of the panels, stiles , and rails. It was a tiresome two days to spray all these pieces. IIRC, it was about two hours to spray and three hours to sand them between coats. So, something over 15 hours.
I laid all the pieces out. I made sure the panels. were random in color, no groups of light or dark panels. I made up a story board with the panel locations marked on it. Installation of the panels and stiles was as straightforward as before. I used wedges to lock each top rail down untill the glue set up a little. Getting the very top rail in place was a bit of a challenge. I couldn't swing the hammer to tap the rail in place becasue I was too close to the ceiling. I panicked a little before I grabbed a stack of shim shingles and used them as wedges between the ceiling and the rail. Whew, all's well that ends well! Here's a test-look without the trim pieces. Glue blocks connect most of the stiles to the framing.
The remaining trim pieces were mostly pretty straight forward. I needed to make multiple passes on the shaper for the chair rail. It got away from me at one point and I thought I'd need to trash it and start over. But, a few hours with some old hollows and rounds and I was able to recover enough to make it useable. The profile is a little different than planned, but who's to know?
I glued the chair rail in place using an improvised clamp system. The wall wasn't quite as straight as I would have liked but the joints get covered by the television. The top trim is just a couple boards with round-over edges, but it looks OK and was a lot easier, less risky than crown molding. . There's a one-screw screw-up there but I plugged it. The baseboard finishes the installation. And here's the overall shot. So, the family room side is done!
The fireplace mantle and surround in the Living Room is, well...let's just say it leaves something to be desired! There is really no other way to put it. It is mostly particle board with the few pieces of wood looking like they were cut by hand with a kitchen knife. The slate is dull and stained, too. I found a design for a fireplace surround in the December 1997 issue of Wood Magazine. I used the basic idea to design a built-in and a new fireplace surround. The built-in goes in the living room on the back side of the paneled wall.
The built-in starts off as a basic MDF box with a face frame. Notice the knots! It's tough to find good long boards in my stash. Fortunately only about an inch of the bottom board is exposed. In this picture I have temporarily set the box in place in the living room. I need to tailor the wrap-around corners and the two outside vertical shelf supports to the depth and contour of the wall. Then I can finish building it in the shop. Once the locations are all marked and everything is back downstairs, I need to secure the bookshelf columns to the cabinet top. The unit is a little too big for my set-up table. Notice the one column setting setting on a drawer on the cabinet behind. The columns are secured to the cabinet top with screws and dowels. I have made the doors for the bottom cabinet. I don't have a lot of room for assembly much less for taking pictures but I did stand all the piece together to get a test-look.
The plan calls for quite a bit of large cove molding on both the built-in and the fireplace surround. The molding will be made by pushing the pieces across an angled tablesaw blade. A cumbersome and nasty effort, but necessary since I can't afford a shaper cutter that large. These are the glue-ups for the cove moldings. Here are some of the molding pieces as they come off the tablesaw. They require lots of sanding!
There are a lot of molding pieces on this thing! The little pieces that bridge the step around the columns are particularly difficult. They are too small to hang onto to fit by hand with a chute board. Once I figured out the exact dimension I used the tablesaw. I had to tape up the board to prevent tear out. Then I had to hook more tape to the cut off piece so it wouldn't fall back into the saw and go sailing across the shop. Hey, it is supposed to be a challenge! Here is the top section with all the molding installed.
Molding for the bottom part of the cabinet was a little easier to install. Plus I could get the cabinet back in the shop closer to the tools. These flash pictures make the wood look a little strange, plus the cabinet is laying on its back. Re-orienting the pictures doesn't always help. Here are details of the base cabinet moldings: pic1, pic2, and pic3. Here is the whole thing put back together for another test-look. I still need to make the shelves and buy something veneered for the back and top. I'm going to take a little break from all this woodworking and do something fun. I'm going to put up Crown Molding in the Living Room and Dining Room!
The crown molding is installed; caulking is your friend! Anyway, time to start on the fireplace mantle and surround. Here is what it looked like at the beginning. The first thing was to pull the old surround off the wall. It was only held in place with four nails and a lot of caulking. I made some cuts into the drywall to get access to the framing so I could install a couple of wall sconce light fixtures. I taped up the drywall cuts to ensure no drafts and installed the new granite. The granite is simply glued up there. The cross pieces will hold it until the glue dries. The pieces are essentially stacked, with all the weight being transferred straight down to the hearth. Not much force pulling away from the wall. Having said that I think I'll leave the cross pieces in place until the surround is fully installed. I found a really nice piece of wood for the mantle top, and a nice piece for the front horizontal piece. I found two pieces for the fronts of the columns but one had some nasty rotten knots on one side and I couldn't tell how far they went into the board. I glued up the pair of 3-piece columns and cut the flutes in them. Here is the router table lash-up to cut the flutes. All the clamps simply make stops to control the length of the flutes. Here's the nasty knot I mentioned. The front side of the knot doesn't look too bad, and the routed flutes didn't cut into anything bad. With the hoizontal board keeping the column square, the columns had to be fitted to the wall. A hand plane was the only way to fit the wood to the wavy wall. Once the columns were fitted to the wall, they were screwed and glued to the hoizontal board. This will be somewhat of an exercise in wood movement. That is an 8-inch horizontal board cross-grain glued to a 6-inch vertical column board. There could be some splits, or moldings popping off, somewhere down the road.
Happy New Year! Here is the first picture of the new year. I was getting nervous installing the molding without test fitting it so I carried the whole assembly back up to the living room. While it was there I figured I might as well install the top mantle board since it had to be fitted to the wall.
I finished the moldings for the bottom of the mantle. I'm pretty pleased with the way this coming out so far. It should be pretty sharp if I can get it finished properly. I just love all this molding on these things. I made the rest of the odds and ends. I made the shelves for the top and bottom sections of the built-in. I'm going to do walnut baseboards on two walls, the walls with the mantle and the built-in. I made these little doobers to go in the corners. They will make the transition from the walnut baseboard to the existing white baseboard on the other two wall. It is difficult to add nicely finished natural wood trim to this place that uses all white fiberboard trim and white plastic windows. I hope my idea for the walnut to white transition looks OK.
You didn't think we would keep the really red walls, did you? I added crown molding to the two rooms, the living room and the dining room. There are some funny steps in the walls in the dining room. They probably hide some sort of duct work. The trim looks a little strange going around these corners. The chair rail had to be routed back where it butts the window trim, and then it had to be coped where it ends on the wall. The freshly painted room is quite a change. We have been looking at those red walls long enough!
Well, it is March and too early to set up the spray equipment. It will be April or May before it is warm enough in the shed to start spraying the mantle and built-in. We have, or had, one of those two story foyers that seem to be so popular these days. Some of those are very nice, with stairs entering, nice railings, fancy upstairs windows, etc. Ours was not that way. Ours was simply a two story white box with a big hanging light. We decided to add a cailing/floor and make a second floor sewing room. I made some measurements, did some checking with the stud finder and cut some exploratory holes. These holes mostly confirmed what I thought was there, so I set out to remove the necessary dry wall. There was nearly a 100 kinear feet of cuts to make to remove the dry wall. I wasn't about to do that with a knife! I knew it would make some mess but I decided to use my circular saw. I marked the area to be removed with pencil lines. I put up plastic sheeting to try to contain the dust. Then, with repirator and safety goggles I started cutting. It went pretty quickly; saw a little, shake off the dust, saw a little.... When it was all done I stepped outside of my tented area, removed the respirator and googles, and looked upstairs. The dust hanging upstairs made it look like the house was on fire! I hadn't planned on so much of the dust rising up. Anyway, there was a really stiff breeze blowing outside so opening a couple windows on either side of the house cleared the air pretty quickly. After the drywall was removed, everything was pretty much as I expected. I could see the header above the door but it looked like a board laying flat so I couldn't really tell how it was made. If I didn't know exactly what was there, it would worry me the rest of my life, so I took down the dry wall over the door. That is a really nice 12 x 6 inch beam! That will certainly hold the floor joists. Anyway, after the initial mess, the rest of the work went quickly and predictably. The I-joist were hung on hangers at one end, and set on the built-up header at the other end. I added tight bloacking over the door to make certain the I-joists could not twist. Drywall installation was uneventful. All of the trim, painting and lighting is now done for the living room, dining room and foyer. Now to just wait for the weather to warm up enough to start spraying finish.
It took four weekends to spray on the finish for all these pieces. I did all the doors, shelves and baseboard trim pieces one weekend, then the mantle, then the built-in base, and the top part of the built-in last. I put a little stain in the lacquer for these pieces, so starting with the shelves and things made sense. These pieces are heavy and pretty awkward to handle. Once I got things rigged up they went fairly quickly. Here is the mantle propped up. The top of the built-in was difficult to spray at the transition from the vertical sides to the horizontal base. I made a little baffle that helped there. Here is the mantle installed, and here is the built-in. This is how the corner 'doobers' worked out. Her is the corner transition to the white painted molding. I thought I would have some trouble securing the built-in to the wall, but I guess we all luck out sometimes. It sits tight against the wall, not needing any additional fasteners. This project is done!
This is about finishing off the second floor area created by putting in a ceiling that changed the two story first floor foyer into a single story. Some folks ask why I would do that. Some new homes have nice two story foyers. They generally feature a fancy stairway and a nicely finished balcony of some sort. Ours was simply a two story box with a big light hanging in the middle. We didnít see a lot of value in it.
The upstairs area under discussion was carpeted and had some really ugly railings made of framed drywall and particle board. Here are some pictures of the upstairs. Hereís the railing design. This is the OSB subfloor and part of the cut up railing. The new subfloor lined up well with the old floor and rests securely on a large beam.
It made sense to put a hardwood floor in this area. This makes maintaining the carpeting in the bedrooms a little easier and breaks the monotony of all carpet. The installation of the hardwood floor was pretty straightforward. The new-room area and the old area tied together nicely. The only tricky parts were trimming out the stairway opening (read, not square) and making up a new top tread for the stairs. The new railing was assembled from standard big box components. They match the components used downstairs.
This was supposed to be about a window box. This was another fit-and-fiddle job, shaping and fitting it to the uneven walls.
Hereís an in progress overall picture and a detail
picture. The inside is particle board. The bottom is the hardwood floor. The multiple partitions will carry the surround that
will support the lids. Here is the test-fit of the whole thing.
Finished and close-up. The
finished railing looks better, too.
Shoulder Plane Project
I enjoyed making the Shepherd plane kits I described a little further back. As described there, the company has gone belly-up and the kits are no longer available. For some time now Iíve been toying with the idea of trying to make some of these infill planes from scratch. There is a quite a lot written about how to make them. In theory they are not all that difficult. Some would have you simply take a hack saw and file to your metal to produce the product. Iím certain it can be done that way but the outcome that way is too risky for me. Some folks do their basic metal work on a milling machine and that is the way I decided to go. I acquired a milling machine, bought some end mills and a sturdy vise. I did enough experimentation to understand the machining sequence. and off I went. I didn't have any metal working experience other than the Shepherd plane kits I made. I don't know if that qualifies as experience. This project contained plenty of opportunity to simply crash and burn. When I started I really had no idea whether they would ever get finished.
These are the Shepherd infill shoulder planes I made and these are what I was trying to copy. I started out thinking Iíd make a set of four planes. I thought Iíd try for ĺ, 1, 1 ľ, and 1 Ĺ sizes. I could cut the various size sole pieces out of one piece of metal or I could buy the correct widths for the sole size I need. The metal I bought for the sole comes in 24-inch pieces, enough for three planes. Well, one thing lead to another and I wound up making three sets of four or 12 planes. When I start something like this I always try to make more than I need or want. This allows for screw ups and the fact that Iím not ever likely to set up to make the same things twice.
One of the problems with the Shepherd shoulder plane, for me anyway, is the fact that the metal around the mouth opening cannot be held in compression as it can be with the dovetails that are not near the mouth. Here is a picture of one of the shepherd planes partially through the clean-up phase. Notice that the locked dovetails fore and aft of the mouth are very tight and the joints have essentially disappeard. However, the dovetails at the mouth cannot be tightened sufficiently to make them disappear. They can be adjusted enough to make a satisfactory appearance but I wasn't able to make the joint disappear. It is not a huge problem and the finished Shepherd planes came out pretty nice. I still find that small dovetail line at the mouth to be distracting. Anyway, For these new ones I used brass for the sides instead of steel. One, I thought I'd like the brass contrast with the various wood infill choices I had, and secondly I thought the small problem with the dovetails around the mouth would be less apparent. The steel planes with steel rivets are quite nice when done properly such that the riviets and dovetails esentially disappear. This is not too difficult to do but a small mistake here or there will show the position of the rivet or dovetail, detracting from the overall quality perception. By using brass sides, the dovetails and through rivets become accents and I got a more consistent appearance. The following is the log of my efforts
March 8, 2011
To make the side plates with their dovetails I figured I needed to secure the side plates as close to where I would be cutting as possible. The vise I have for the milling machine has vise jaws that are only 1 Ĺ inches high and 4-inches wide. The metal for the sides starts out at 3-inches so I figured I'd get better results with vise jaws 2 5/8 inches high. Also to avoid repositioning the work as I made the dovetails, I figured 8-inch wide jaws would also be good to have. One of the first things I did was to make two pair of new vise jaws. One set is 2 5/8 inches high by 8-inches wide as just described. The other is 1 Ĺ inches high by 8-inches wide. The second set to be used to hold the 8-inch sole pieces while cutting the pins. Here is a picture of the new jaw sets and here is a picture of the tall set installed on the vise.
Since I had already a fair investment in time and materials I thought Iíd slap something together and see how this brittleness phenomenon would actually manifest. I lashed together a steel sole and a C360 brass side piece. They werenít well secured. I hit the pieces with the ball end of a ball peen hammer. The objective was to see how fragile this brass really is. Some of the brass did, in fact, break off. Hereís a close-up. I ground off the excess metal on the pins and tails. The biggest real problem is the brass didnít flow into the corners and actually broke off where it should have flowed. Where I hammered the steel to bond with the brass the metal flowed nicely and looks pretty good.
Iím very grateful to Peter for being so observant. There are a lot of steps between cutting the brass and actually hammering these things together. If I had cut the mouth, shaped the outer edges of the sides, cut out the holes for the blade access, made and fitted all the wood pieces, and then tried to hammer these things together I would have had a major disaster on my hands. It would have been a ďfill the trash can and donít look backĒ kind of moment. Anyway, the initial news was somewhat discouraging, but Iíve made plans to return some of the C360 brass I bought. What Iíve cut up so far Iíll put on Ebay. Iíll be ordering some C464 Brass momentarily, and then I'll start again.March 23rd
I started cutting the blade openings, the mouths. (How often do you get to use the plural of mouth?) This is a bit problematic. First I didn't know what size opening I should aim for. I know that the mouth will open some when I polish and flatten the sole. However, I donít want it too tight such that when it opens it is still not large enough to get a file into. Plus, I wanted to minimize the hand work needed to adjust the mouth later on. Anyway, I cut all the mouths. The first ones I made too large. I had a problem when I did my practice cuts and then I forgot the lesson I learned. The milling cutter does not punch through cleanly. Instead, when it is close to cutting through it deforms the metal and then breaks through bigger than intended. Anyway, I have four that are obviously too big and the rest I think are OK. What I wound up doing was just sneaking up on the final dimension until I could just push the tip of an exacto knife through the remaining metal. That translates to a 10 or 15 thousandths of an inch opening. For the four that are too big I'll need to complete the cut-through on the sole and then close the mouth up as I cut the dovetails in the side plates. That will require a little more attention when I get to the peening part. Anyway, here's the milling lashup to cut the mouth. This one is a little closer. Here's the bunch of them. Here's a couple pictures of the mouth cut-outs, mouth-too-big on the left, inside, and outside.March 25th
Iím a guy used to doing wood working out of my pile of $1bf lumber. If I make a mistake with that kind of wood I just go grab another piece. Anyway, taking a saw to a $160 piece of brass was kind of a new experience for me. ! actually got a little belly twinge before I applied the power. I got the 12 x 36 inch chunk of brass cut into 8 x 3+ inch pieces without any problems. Iím using this old Dewalt radial arm saw as my metal saw. This little saw is as tight as a band box though a little under powered for most wood working. It has only a ĺ hp motor. Tomorrow I can start fitting the sides again.April 4th
I finally made a decision on the wood for the infill. I chose Macassar Ebony (black with yellowish streaks, Gabon Ebony (nearly solid black), and Honduran Rosewood similar to cocobolo). The Rosewood came with some small end checks that I hope do not go too deep. The Rosewood seems to take a polish well. I know the ebony polishes well, also. I cut the wood into blanks for the three necessary wooden pieces; the blade ramp, the infill and the wedge. I cut the chunks to the approximate thickness using the bandsaw. I used a belt sander to flatten one side and then used the milling machine to obtain the desired finish thickness It was a little messy but I managed to keep most of the sawdust out of the table ways.
After thicknessing the wood I made the blade ramps. I made a jig for the sander using a 20 degree gage block. Then it was simply a matter of sanding the ramp to the proper angle. The infill blocks were inserted, outlined with a pencil and then rough cut on the bandsaw. I flattend the wedge bearing surface of the infill then cut a flat for the brass wear plate. The wear plate is epoxied to the infill. A piece of plastic electrical tape works to hold the brass in place until the glue sets up. After the epoxy was dry I used the milling machine to make the brass flush with the wood. This is what they look like so far: all of them and a few.
With the wood for the blade ramp and infill installed, I was anxious to see how the riveting would go. I grabbed one plane and drilled the holes for the rivets. Because of the small shift in the hole alignment during the peening, I drilled the holes half way through from each side. The rivets seem to fit OK. I got a little chatter around one hole. Hard to tell right now if, or how badly, it will show. I chamfered, or tapered, the edge of the rivet holes a little. I used a hand held reamer. It doesn't produce much of a taper but it is all I could come up with. (I did try to find a reamer with more taper, but no luck. For the Shepherd planes, the recommendation was to use a file. With the steel rivets being so apparent I didn't want to risk that the holes might not remain symmetrical if I used a file.) I taped some washers to the rivets on one side of the plane body (to maintain the rivet spacing) and started pounding. It takes a lot of heavy blows to flare these steel rivets properly. It was also difficult to tell if the rivets were properly seated. I guess you just get to a point where you hope they are 'good enough'. I used the milling machine to carefully remove excess metal from the rivets and the side dovetails. Anxious to see what I would wind up with I went to work on the belt sander. I used a 120 grit belt to take the sides down smooth. I'm figuring a more coarse grit would be too rough and anything finer would take too long. I haven't yet decided whether to go to something like 220 grit on the belt sander or go to hand sanding from this point on. There's risk in using the belt sander because it is difficult to set the piece down flat. Every time you set it down you risk slight contact with the edges rather than setting it down perfectly flat. Anyway, this is what I wound up with. It seems to be pretty satisfactory. Close up here. The next step will be to shape the wood and brass on the top and ends of the plane. But, for the moment I have more riveting and sanding to do. I'm going to install all the rivets then work the assemblies on the belt sander. For this first one, I had to spend a lot of time cooling the piece as it gets too hot to handle. If I work the remaining 11 pieces on the belt sander at the same time maybe they will air cool enough to handle as I rotate through them. I should be able to work faster.June 20th, 2011
I made a batch of blades. They were fairly easy to make and fully believing that, I impatiently made enough mistakes that now I don't like the lot of them and I plan to make another set. One problem I had was chatter in this very low-end vise. I've made new jaws for it and flattened the ways to be ready for the next batch.
The sides of the planes were chamfered with a woodworking router bit. I had a 45ļ bit but the bearing was loose and too far away from the cutters to guide on the 1/8th inch thick side plates. I had decided to make a new pilot that would be closer to the cutters when I discovered I could do a little machine work on the cutter. I removed a shoulder on the bit that allowed butting the bearing right up to the carbide cutting surface. This let the bearing ride securely on the thin brass. As before, using a woodworking router on brass at low speed is effective and only a little bit exciting.
Much of this is very tedious and time consuming hand work and I'm easily losing patience trying to plow ahead. I said this set is mostly complete. They have not yet been made to 'work'. I opened the mouth of each plane just enough to check for square and assure myself they can be made to work properly. Since the blades I made have not been hardened or tempered, they cannot be sharpened properly to fettle the blade and clearance properly.As with most of these fitting, fiddling operations, working the blade ramp and plane sides coplanar was quite time consuming. After using an assortment of files for rough fitting, I put adhesive backed sand paper on the blades and worked it back and forth on the blade ramp to get everything smooth. With little available movement, this was really slow work; time consuming for sure, but low risk.
October, 19, 2011
I made the new set of blades. The O1 steel I bought comes in 36-inch lengths. The blades are a little less than 8-inches long. I couldn't think of any other use for the left over piece if I had only made the 3 sets I needed, so I made 4 sets. I used a radial arm saw with a metal cutting blade to cut the rough lengths. A belt sander was used to square the rough cut ends. Here's the milling operation for the primary bevel and the vise set-up for the side bevels. Note I did make new vise jaws and leveled the bed on the cheap vise that came with the milling machine. It works better now than before. The rough milling was done on 8 blades at a time and then the finish-cuts were made one at a time. The radius ends were made using a rotary table. The final shape for the main bevel was made on the belt sander using a Veritas sharpening jig. Here's the finished set before going to Ron Hock for hardening and tempering (Rc62). This set took nearly 40 hours to make; way longer than necessary. I'm certainly paying a price in using the milling cutters without coolant flow. I can only take small cuts of around .015 inches and even then the import cutters don't last a long time. Back from the heat treating, the blades look better than when they went out. I sharpened a first set of blades. That took about 2 hours including finding the supplies and remembering how to do it. It only took about an hour and a half to fettle the planes to get them working. I opened the plane mouths only enough to get them to 'work'. I'll leave any additional tuning for when they actually get used.
Now I only need to finish the remaining 8 planes.
December, 13, 2011
Well, they are all done! Here are the pic, pic, pictures to prove it!
They all work. I opened the mouths just enough to pass a thin shaving. They can be made to work better but I'll leave that until some later time. They are mostly pretty, but close inspection will reveal defects in each and every one. The defects will be less noticeable after awhile; my projects generally look better after some time has passed. I learned a lot.Some Statistics:
What next, jointers? smoothers? No where to go but up!Quick Index
Another Display Case
January 2015 With the purchase of a copy of Duncan Phyphe's tool chest and other tools I was in need of another display case. I bought a used display case with an eye towards refinishing it for my use. I knew the display case was in really rough shape . I thought there would likely be need to remake some of the parts. The price I paid for the display case was less than the cost of the glass it contained so I wasn't too concerned about the repair/rework outcome.
The old display case came apart easily enough. The more I got into it, the more problems I found. There were some broken parts, some were rotted and sun damaged, others had large amounts of epoxy forced in and around loose joints. In the end I decided to simply re-make the display case, keeping only the glass.
Re-making the case was not too difficult. I changed the design a little to provide additional strength where the original was a little skimpy. I couldn't change the basic design too much because the old glass pretty much dictated major dimensions. I had the usual problems building a large cabinet in my too-crowded shop space. Fitting the cabinet to the glass rather than the glass to the cabinet required lots of care.
The new case, like the original, is made of red oak. I spent extra money to buy quarter sawn material, but I didn't get much of the figure I was hoping for. I finished the cabinet with the usual pre-cat lacquer and some light stain. The new cabinet has a solid base rather than the four short legs of the original. The trim on the base is a little heavier, more elegant. The display case looks pretty nice with some old tools inside.Quick Index
Cherry display/Coffee Table
March 2015 While visiting Roger Smith, MLW was admiring a combination coffee table and display case Roger has in his living room. I took some dimensions from it and promised MLW to build something similar. My design evolved and turned out to be quite different but LOML seems pleased with it. The top part is a single drawer used to display stuff. I thought my design was a little risky. I'd never built a drawer assembly without guides or runners on the sides of the drawers. This design has guides on the outside of the 3-drawer group but no runners between the drawers. Seems to work OK and looks OK, too. The natural finish on the cherry wood has already taken on a nice warm patina. The outside panel assemblies support flat frames to support the drawers. The frames are mortised into the corner posts and then secured with glue blocks to the frame of the end panels. Each drawer is custom fitted to the case. The top frame was adjusted to the glass. Here's a slightly different angle of the completed tableQuick Index
Lambertville Wall Clock
October 2015 For years I had wanted to build a grandfather clock. I bought a set of plans some 30 years ago and another set perhaps 15 years ago. Eventually SWMBO got the point across that she really didn't care for the grandfather clock idea and after 30 years of occasional interest, I, too, was tired of the pursuit. SWMBO took a fancy to this old rail road clock we saw while on an outing. When she said 'why don't you make something like that', I thought I'd give it a shot. After the work of scaling a 6-foot clock down to something that will fit an 8-foot wall, adjusting the design to something I thought I could build, and choosing from the very few clock movements available today, I was able to build this clock case which bears only passing similarity to the original. I got to use a lathe chuck I had purchased many years ago. It didn't work to well, but I finally got the finials turned. I made mock ups of the top and bottom moldings. When I got the movement, I mounted it on the wall. I needed to make sure it worked properly and I needed precise measurements. The decorator parts on the bottom took a little while to figure out. The rosettes were turned and the little design thing was cut with a scroll saw. The inexpensive locks are humidor locks. They would have been pretty easy to install if they hadn't been a little bigger than their advertised 3/8ths inch. A small aside, I've set up my spray booth again, in the garage out back. I use a couple attic fans set under the door and whatever tables and benches I need to spray the pieces. Here are some pic, pic, pic, pic, pic, pictures. The back for the clock is screwed on and carries the chime block. The movement mounts on a removable mounting board. Finished pictures, closed and open.Quick Index
January 2016 It was 15 - 20 years ago that I bought a pile of various veneers at a yard sale. The pile has been kicking around since then, being moved from place to place, and suffering additional damage with each move. The pile contains mostly walnut veneer. My next project is going to be a Hammacher Schlemmer style tool box and workbench combination. It will be made with walnut and walnut veneers. That will still leave the rest of the assortment of really interesting veneers for me to continue to move around. I figured I should stop moving the stuff, use it somehow, or get rid of it. I decided to make some boxes and try my hand at veneering them.
Some of the veneers were fairly easy to identify, others only guessed at. In the picture, number 1 is rosewood of some kind, number 2 is birdseye maple, 3 might be lacewood, 4 might be olive burl, 5 is maple, 6 is mahogany, 7 is cedar crotch, 8 is birch, 9 may be curly ribbon sycamore, 10 and 11 are walnut crotch. Number 12 shows some of the odd pieces in the veneer pile I bought.
So what to make? I decided on 3 recipe boxes and 6 wine boxes. The plan was to use up scrap walnut and cherry lumber from previous projects to make simple boxes that I would cover with veneer when assembled. The sides would be mitered and the top and bottom simply glued on. The first thing I did was cut all the pieces. The first screw-up was making the tops and bottoms the same size as the sides; now I have 12 wine boxes working! For the recipe boxes, the inside shelf was mitered into place and the top simply glued on. You can never have enough clamps! The wine boxes before adding the veneer, 6 in walnut and 6 in cherry. The veneer was glued on with clamps and pads, sanded flush after each of the pieces was dry. I used a router to put a decorative edge on the tops. Here's the whole batch ready to be cut open. They were cut open with a bandsaw, sanded, and the hinges installed. I bought inexpensive Chinese hinges and locks for the wine boxes. The hinges were a real pain to install but at $1/pair, the price was right. Spray finish, as usual, required a unique but simple fixture. Here's how it works. Gotta love the way the grain, pattern, and color pops out when the finish is applied.
Here are a couple pic, pic, pictures of the finished and assembled boxes. I still have some veneer left.
A new local brewery, Victory Brewing Company, will fill and seal a 32 ounce can of any of their on-tap brews. Some of my friends prefer beer to wine, so I used up some more veneer with these beer, beer, beer boxes.
These were really time consuming, much more than I expected. Most of the veneer had to be flattened. I used a commercial flattening product. It was about the same price as the various products for homebrew flatteners. Flattening means soaking the veneer and pressing and drying it. They were kind of fun to make. Some of the veneer is really interesting Some has a texture like old leather; pretty neat! And best of all, the only veneer I have left is a few pieces of maple and the walnut for the tool box/work bench combination! Coming soon...Quick Index