Apr82014

Great Wall of Easton – in progress

No, it’s not woodworking … nor woodcarving … nor (especially not) DIY.
Updated after wall construction was completed.

wall-done-1-1600

wall-done-1-1600

wall-done-2-1600

wall-done-2-1600

wall-done-3-1600

wall-done-3-1600

wall-done-4-1600

wall-done-4-1600

wall-done-5-1600

wall-done-5-1600

wall-done-6-1600

wall-done-6-1600

That last picture is from asking the masons to “Sign Your Work.”
The back story of why it’s been “in progress” for 6 months will come later.

 


Mar172014

Small Storage Box – Radiata Pine – and a Carving

Card scraper box - finger notch was cut with a #6 gougeShe said, “It turned out pretty well for being chintzy wood.”

Pines are native to most of the northern hemisphere. So, why is it when I go to nearest home center, the pine they have is the Radiata species grown in New Zealand? I wonder what the market dynamics are that brings the stuff nearly 9000 miles to get to the big orange box store near us. I do have to admit that it is generally very free of knots and usually straight, flat, and straight grained … much better than some of the other stuff in the store.

Card scraper box - room for moreThis little flip-lid box is intended as storage for a growing collection of card scrapers. Being a shop accessory, I decided to use some of the radiata pine I have left from other projects and save the hardwood for other times.

The box needs dividers and I’ve never made them before. I worked out the simple scheme of three dividers and two end pieces to hold them. Another quick wood decision. … photo of dividers, end piece with dadoes and toolsThere’s a lot of cedar left from boatbuilding days and it can be cut down to 1/8 inch thickness very quickly. It’s the nature of cedar to crush more easily than cut, so when it came to routing the dadoes, a knife and slicing motions worked better than a chisel. A shop made router rounded out the tools needed for these joints. These are very small dadoes, 1/8 inch wide and only 1/16 inch deep. It turns out that they need exactly as many steps as any of their larger brothers.

As the box neared completion, regrets about wood choice began to loom. All of the boxes I’ve made recently have been made as much for having something to decorate with carvings as much as having a practical storage box. Carving wasn’t in the original plan, but why not? …. Because it’s stringy pine, that’s why not.

Then, along came Rob Porcaro (Heartwood blog) with “It’s always something.Read it!

A simple three leaf embellishment, a recent carving lesson from Mary May, originally meant for corner decorations, turned out to be just complicated enough to be satisfying and just simple enough for the pine. Taking shallower cuts to avoid unwanted splitting resulted in more facets than I like in the background, but adding yet more facets even things out.

All in all, she’s right. It turned out to be a satisfying project with a purpose.

Dimensions: 6 3/4 inches (L), 3 3/4 inches (W), 3 inches (H)
Finish: Shellac.

Card scraper box - carving on my new bench-on-bench

Card scraper box - carving on my new bench-on-bench

Dadoes are 1/8 inch wide and 1/16 inch deep to accept haunched dividers.

Dadoes are 1/8 inch wide and 1/16 inch deep to accept haunched dividers.

Like all good dadoes, they fit perfectly.

Like all good dadoes, they fit perfectly.

Card scraper box - ready to finish - waiting for shop to be warm enough - dividers are cedar

Card scraper box - ready to finish - waiting for shop to be warm enough - dividers are cedar

Card scraper box - body pieces are 1/4 inch thick Radiata pine - dividers are 1/8 inch thick cedar - bottom is 1/8 inch thick pine

Card scraper box - body pieces are 1/4 inch thick Radiata pine - dividers are 1/8 inch thick cedar - bottom is 1/8 inch thick pine

Card scraper box - end view shows lid pivot pin

Card scraper box - end view shows lid pivot pin

Card scraper box - finger notch was cut with a #6 gouge

Card scraper box - finger notch was cut with a #6 gouge

Card scraper box - room for more

Card scraper box - room for more

Card scraper box - bottom is only 1/8 inch thick, captured in grooves

Card scraper box - bottom is only 1/8 inch thick, captured in grooves

 


Mar92014

Fun with Small Dadoes

photo of dividers, end piece with dadoes and toolsA small box I’m making wants interior dividers. This is the first time I’ve tried making them, so it is a learning experience. The idea is 3 lengthwise dividers organized by two end pieces. The end pieces need dadoes. The scale of the project is such that the interior pieces are only 1/8 inch thick. I don’t have a 1/8 inch chisel and didn’t want to order one and wait. I do have an “Old Woman’s Tooth” router. So, off to the scrounge bin of Allen keys … some time with the hand cranked grinder … and some more time with the stones. The result is a 1/8″ router made in about a half hour.

photo of divider gripped in a good dadoThe material shown here is a sub-optimal choice, but it will do. It is cedar which is quite soft and crumbles in fear when a chisel comes near. Slicing is the key to success, and that little knife is kept razor sharp for marking, and now for slicing cedar.

Haunched dividers and stopped dadoes: a success, and fun learning how to make snug. (Yes, each fits snugly enough to support the end piece.)


Feb282014

Bob Builds Another BOB – the whole story

The first Bench On Bench worked well and taught me what improvements it needed.My first Bench On Bench was delightful. It brought carving and joinery tasks to a very comfortable height. Two and a half years later, I still appreciate it, but know of ways to improve it. The most wanted improvement is better work holding capability for carving work. Pinching stuff between dogs in the front vise and the “floating planing stops” just wasn’t working well enough. Shims of various sizes were almost always needed. The front vise itself grew to be a bit floppy, the result of installing the vise screw nuts loosely in softwood sockets. As they floated and wiggled around, they also wallowed the sockets. The best part about the bench was the vise screws, 1/2 inch veneer press screws that were available several years ago from Tools for Working Wood, but are not to be found anywhere today. The handles on those screws can be pulled out and rotated, very convenient for moving them when “tight” leaves them sticking up in the way. Those are keepers! Lastly, the excellent Gramercy holdfasts were rarely useful due to the smaller size of most of my work pieces.

Along comes Chris Schwarz with the “Milkman’s Workbench.” Intended as a portable bench, it has a few features I like and thought would be useful. In the end, I borrowed a few ideas from that bench. The first was lamination from maple instead of fir. This is the last workbench I’m going to build; I might as well use hardwood. The next feature was the wagon vise. However, I’ll use another veneer press screw instead of the wooden screws. I can’t justify the tooling cost for making just one of those wooden screws, and for what it costs to buy one ready made, I can buy a couple of top of the line carving gouges. The last feature was square dogs and their recessed self-storage. I’ll keep the full width front vise and the excellent screws with adjustable handles. I find that vise better suited for the way I work.

Start with 3 boards 1x6 by 8 feet. Rip each into thirds. Then, crosscut into thirds. The color streaks are from spalting.One of the nearby home centers actually carries maple. It’s “mystery maple” since the specific variety isn’t identified. There was some minor spalting in two of the three best boards. My right thumbnail Janka gauge determined the stuff was OK. That’s the discoloration seen in a few spots. Even though the specific type is unknown, it was straight, free of knots and a joy to work.

Plowing 1/2 inch grooves used more than one tool, and a good bit of patience. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. Maple is hard.Yes, it is a lot harder than most stuff I work with, and yes the Record 044 didn’t want to plow a 1/2 inch groove without a bit of help, and yes, cranking a 1 inch auger through it with an 8 inch brace was a bit of work. Yet, it is remarkably predictable and finish planing leaves a glass like surface.

All parts catalogs say this is a 1 inch force fit. Yeah right! Asymmetrical, winged, and tapered. Lots of fussing... The Auriou rasp is superb!The new veneer press screw doesn’t deserve nearly as much praise. It is advertised at most all woodworking supply sources and out of stock in almost all. Once acquired, the threaded socket that is advertised as a “1 inch press fit” is found to be an elliptical shape with ribs on the side and must have been the seventieth son of the seventieth son to be so asymmetrical. There’s enough play in the threads to never have to worry about them seizing, but maybe that’s why they hold a setting so well. Fitting something like this is when one learns to really appreciate how well Michel Auriou’s rasps perform  (the one on the right, not the rat tail).

Plan A - Traditional, with wagon vise on the right.About 3/4 of the way through gluing up the pairs of strips that accommodate dog holes, I remembered that some of my working methods really want clear space on the right end of the bench. Actually, I find myself doing several operations that overhang the right side. Oooops, that vise screw is going to be in the way. OK — Plan B! Just flip it over … and smooth finish the bottom side … and make some more dog recesses.

The rest is a matter of careful assembly, lots of gluing and clamping, lots of planing, a bit of drilling and fitting. By the way, the entire project was done with only hand tools. No electrons murdered. No sandpaper martyred. Very sharp plane blades, and well groomed card scrapers gave excellent results. There’s only one area not completely finished. I did not glue the end block for the vise. It is temporarily fixed with press fit Miller Dowels. It is the dry season now, about 25% humidity. In late summer humidity goes to 90%. I’ve left this area free of glue in case it needs to be disassembled and adjusted.

Update: I forgot to mention dimensions in the original post. The bench top measures 31.5 inches by 18.5 inches. The top surface is 8.5 inches above whatever it sits on. It weighs 32 pounds.

The work holding capability is better than I aimed for, and the fit and finish is a big step above the previous version. All of the methods I practice can now be done easier and more reliably with this bench. There’s a slideshow below this last group of photos. It has a few more photos with explanations. As always, click on any photo to see a larger version.

Work holding - a typical relief carving Work holding - a larger and scarier relief carving - space for much larger... Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings. Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability. Work holding - on the bench surface - plenty of capability for my scale of box making Work holding - Needed a slight overhang. Easy. Drop the left end of the front chop and use the wagon vise. Easiest grooving ever.

The first Bench On Bench worked well and taught me what improvements it needed.

The first Bench On Bench worked well and taught me what improvements it needed.

Start with 3 boards 1x6 by 8 feet. Rip each into thirds. Then, crosscut into thirds. The color streaks are from spalting.

Start with 3 boards 1x6 by 8 feet. Rip each into thirds. Then, crosscut into thirds. The color streaks are from spalting.

Plowing 1/2 inch grooves used more than one tool, and a good bit of patience. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. Maple is hard.

Plowing 1/2 inch grooves used more than one tool, and a good bit of patience. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. Maple is hard.

Checking the layout. Yep, that'll work.

Checking the layout. Yep, that'll work.

Turning a 1 inch auger, in maple, with an 8 inch brace is near insanity. My 10, 12, and 14 inch braces are still on the 'buy someday' list.

Turning a 1 inch auger, in maple, with an 8 inch brace is near insanity. My 10, 12, and 14 inch braces are still on the 'buy someday' list.

All parts catalogs say this is a 1 inch force fit. Yeah right! Asymmetrical, winged, and tapered. Lots of fussing... The Auriou rasp is superb!

All parts catalogs say this is a 1 inch force fit. Yeah right! Asymmetrical, winged, and tapered. Lots of fussing... The Auriou rasp is superb!

Vise dry fit #1

Vise dry fit #1

Ahhhh. Vise dry fit #2. Now, it looks like a vice. Those walnut pins are the garter, temporary for now.

Ahhhh. Vise dry fit #2. Now, it looks like a vice. Those walnut pins are the garter, temporary for now.

All the parts ready for assembly ... in 'Plan A' configuration.

All the parts ready for assembly ... in 'Plan A' configuration.

Do this 6 times over the next few days, or go buy 50 more clamps. :)

Do this 6 times over the next few days, or go buy 50 more clamps. :)

Nuts for the front vise screws are mortised in very snugly, and then epoxied to prevent any wiggle.

Nuts for the front vise screws are mortised in very snugly, and then epoxied to prevent any wiggle.

Plan A - Traditional, with wagon vise on the right.

Plan A - Traditional, with wagon vise on the right.

Plan B - Flip it over. Wagon vise on the left and better use of the right end of the bench.

Plan B - Flip it over. Wagon vise on the left and better use of the right end of the bench.

Scrub baby, scrub!  I have an alternate curved iron for the #5. Maple is hard, but predictable, and finishes very nicely.

Scrub baby, scrub! I have an alternate curved iron for the #5. Maple is hard, but predictable, and finishes very nicely.

Miller dowels through the bridle joints make the vise strong enough. Nothing here was glued for now. It's the dry season and may need disassembly when the humid season arrives.

Miller dowels through the bridle joints make the vise strong enough. Nothing here was glued for now. It's the dry season and may need disassembly when the humid season arrives.

Work holding - a typical relief carving

Work holding - a typical relief carving

Work holding - a larger and scarier relief carving - space for much larger...

Work holding - a larger and scarier relief carving - space for much larger...

Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings.

Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings.

Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability.

Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability.

Work holding - on the bench surface - plenty of capability for my scale of box making

Work holding - on the bench surface - plenty of capability for my scale of box making

Work holding - Needed a slight overhang. Easy. Drop the left end of the front chop and use the wagon vise. Easiest grooving ever.

Work holding - Needed a slight overhang. Easy. Drop the left end of the front chop and use the wagon vise. Easiest grooving ever.

 


Feb242014

A Better Glue Bottle

Glue is something that I try to avoid as much as possible. Carving rarely needs glue, but box making does and so does the most recent project (more on that in another post). For most work, I use Titebond glues. The glues work well, but I really dislike the bottles. How does this work for you? Pick up the bottle, turn over and shake 1, 2, 3 times to get some glue near the tip. Then, pull open the tip … or most likely wrestle with opening the tip. After two good yanks, the tip is still stuck. So go find pliers. Then, find the slot in the nozzle blocked. Scrape it out; danged stuff really sticks on the cap almost as well as the wood. Phew, finally open. Squeeze and use. Clean the tip off this time before closing. One big PITA, and that’s NOT pita bread.

photo of honey bottle filled with glueBeing the cook, and grocery shopper, I’m seeing more and more products being sold in bottles meant to be stored inverted. SOME of those bottles actually have valves built into the lids. Two notable examples are Wallmart’s Great Value brand honey, and Heinz’s tomato ketchup. Wondering how well that valve handles glue, I cleaned out the last empty honey bottle and refilled it with Titebond glue.

photo of bottle valveWonderful!!! Pick up the bottle, flip the lid, squeeze and spread. Set the bottle back down closing the lid all in one motion.  No, it doesn’t have a long pointy nozzle, but how often do you really need that type of nozzle? Tilt this bottle a bit and there’s plenty of control. It works a bazillion times better than Titebond’s bottle. What’s more, the lid’s plastic surface is super slick and doesn’t hold on to spillover glue the way Titebond’s nozzles do. What little glue gets left on the lid slides right off.

Goodbye Titebond bottles; I’m sticking with the sweet ones now.

 


Feb172014

Bob Builds Another BOB

just one photo for now…

bob-2-parts