Archive for February, 2012

Boycotting Blogger Comments – CAPTCHAs

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I’ve had enough!!!

My interests take me to a lot of blogs, many of them hosted at Blogger. A LOT of them are yours. From time to time, I comment on the fine work you folks do.

No more!

Read THIS to find out why.


My rant about CAPTCHAs has been answered. This morning, Blogger enabled automatic spam detection. They have finally dome something that should have been done years ago, taken on the spam prevention burden themselves rather than passing it on to their customers. Details on my CAPTCHAs Must Die blog.

So, dear woodworking friends: Those of you who use Blogger can now make things easier for your followers. Go into Settings, and then to the Comments tab, and just say NO to the “Word Verification” option.

Drill Baby Drill

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

This morning’s surfing, along with some memory tingling, produced some time travel I found interesting.

To start it off, “baconj,” The keeper of the Plane Shavings blog wrote “Purty Tools just Plain Work Better.” He writes about refurbishing a Millers Falls #2 eggbeater drill. Millers Falls started making these drills in 1886 and continued well into the 1940s. So, “baconj”‘s drill was likely operating 100 years ago, was operating last month, and is running even better now that he made it pretty again. He did a very nice job.

Along that same line, my own Goodell-Pratt #259, not yet 100 years old, saw lots of service before it came to me, and gets used a few minutes per week these days.

The very next blog entry I read was by Joel Moskowitz lamenting “When Good Tools Go Bad and Other News.” Joel, who now operates the very fine Tools For Working Wood in Brooklyn recalls his time working for Black and Decker when they were building “consumer” grade power tools. The justification for stepping down from higher grade professional tools to consumer grade was that the average homeowner used their drill less than 2 minutes a year. Joel goes on to describe quite a few common problems these tools have and how to fix them. It is a good read if you have a hand tool with one of those problems. It’ll save you some money. At the same time, Joel does put in a suggestion about buying a truly professional quality Festool instead.

photo of old electric drillThat comment about 2 minutes a year fired off a bunch of neurons in my feeble old mind, and I ran downstairs to take a picture of my old reliable power drill. It has definitely see more than 2 minutes a year, probably a lot closer to 2 hours a year averaged over the time I’ve had it. Some years, like the time we built a deck, it saw many many hours. I bought this 1/4 inch electric drill in 1964 or 1965 when I took up a part time job hanging draperies that Anita made. (a seamstress I worked for, not a relative, last name long forgotten) I bought the drill at a discount store in Indiana named T-Way for the grand sum of $9.95. It is branded Shop-Craft and was manufactured by Portable Electric Tools Inc. in Geneva, Illinois. Those folks went out of business in the late 60s, or actually, were bought by another firm, and then bought again by Shopsmith, and eventually discontinued. I’m guessing the Black and Decker descent to consumer grade killed their market. For me, it was one of the best 10 dollars I ever spent.

As an aside, I’ve never had a problem of any sort with that Shop-Craft drill. I did fall to the siren songs of those cordless things and went through 3 generations of them. I found them mostly wimpy and while none of them actually failed mechanically, all 3 fell victim to design obsolescence of their batteries. By the time the batteries would no longer take a charge, replacements cost 3 times as much as the next great (consumer grade) cordless drill. What a great way to stuff the land fill!

Which is the reason I won’t buy a Festool drill. First, my pockets aren’t deep enough to pay 23 times as much as I did for the old reliable drill which I still use today. Secondly, I’m very skeptical about the rapidly changing battery technology. The drill itself might not fail in a reasonable lifetime, but how long will replacement batteries be available? If you’re a pro and really do use these things an hour or more a day, or if you just want to have the same things that Mark and Tommy have, go ahead.

You can’t have my $9.95 drill. I still use it. Yet, you can find really great Millers Falls and Goodell-Pratts on the used market. Augment those with a Stanley brace for the heavier work, and Drill Baby Drill.



Hollows and Rounds Get Their Own Shelf

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

photo of 25 wooden planesMy hollows and rounds are upset. They’re fed up with sitting in a cardboard box on the shop floor. Anytime I go near them, they shudder and rattle, making quite a clamor.  OK, OK, that only happens when I trip over the box.

These planes came to me last September. They were made by either William or Edward Crow, of Canterbury England sometime between 1847 and 1880. photo showing markings close upTwo owners thought enough of them to stamp their names into the wooden bodies. And stamp they did, anywhere from 3 to 6 markings per plane. Someone named W.A.P. Chuter was an early owner. Later, someone named R. Woodward stamped his mark over all the Chuter marks. One wonders if this set might have started out as a full set of 36 and “dwindled” (despite all those markings) to the current number, 25. Pilfering from busy workshops? Loans never returned? Owned and lost by other owners who left no stamps? In any case, it would be interesting if these planes really could talk. There’s plenty of evidence of use, hammer dings and such. Yet, they are still in very usable condition. A few days ago, I knocked them all apart, did some rust removal, cleaned up the bodies, and sharpened a few irons … which were already almost sharp enough to use.

For readers interested in acquiring hollows and rounds, there are several superb makers operating today. Those who constantly receive high praise are: Larry Williams and Don McConnell of Old Street Tool, Matt Bickford of M.S. Bickford, and Phil Edwards of Philly Planes in the UK. Or, you can watch the used tool mongers and hope, and wait, and hope, and wait. I did and and had a very fortunate lightning strike!

photo of all the parts for this shelfAlmost all of those shavings in the “Good Day in the Shop” posting are from various parts of making a storage shelf for the planes. They deserve something better than a plain shelf, but I’m not keen on using fancy hardwoods for my shop. So, it’s basswood for the carved brackets and Borg “white wood” for the shelf itself. My design is the result of a few minutes pencil doodling, which I’ve lost or discarded. As nice as it is, Sketchup is too much work, and the fist semester of engineering college (50 years ago) provided me with enough drafting skills to make a decent pencil sketch. The sketch materialized into these parts.

photo of shelf brackets with a wood carved acantus decoration

Earlier posts showed work in progress for the brackets. Acanthus leaves are classic forms, often appearing in all sorts of scrolls. You’ll find them almost anywhere, engraved on firearms, carved into leather saddles and belts, in stone, and in countless wooden decorations. These are my first Acanthus leaves, the first of what I hope are many many more.

My introduction to French cleats was from some woodworker’s blog. I photo collage of making the basecan’t remember which one of you, so I’ll give you all credit. French cleats are sturdy, easy to make, and offer a lot of flexibility. You’ve seen me use them in previous projects. One thing is different with this project. Instead of having an open cleat that lets the shelf be place anywhere along a long wall cleat, I enclosed this one between the brackets. When done, the brackets are the obvious parts, not the cleats. As before, I find it easier to plane the 45 degree bevel than to set up the bandsaw (which currently has the wrong blade installed). Hint (sorry no pictures of this one, but of earlier 45 degree planing): Mark the inboard edge of the bevel along the length of the board used as the cleat. Every foot or so, make a saw crosscut at 45 degrees through the waste material. Plane off the waste until you reach a combination of the line, the opposing corner of the board and the bottoms of the saw cuts. Done!

What is a shelf for hollows and rounds without a molded edge? It has to have a molded edge! So, now we run into a couple of problems. The best “white wood” I could find at the Borg was just a bit narrow to hold the planes. Used as-is, the planes would stick out beyond the edge of the shelf. Second, if I cut moldings into that wood it would further narrow the width, but more importantly would require cutting end grain moldings. Not for my first moldings! Nope, I’m wimping out on that one. Matt Bickford can do it very nicely, but he’s been doing this molding cutting stuff for a long time. I decided to cut the moldings separately from long sticks and then apply them to the board.

photo of three planesA simple ovolo shape was my choice for this very first molding project. A big THANKS to Matt Bickford for publishing a series of how-to articles back in late 2010. This ovolo came directly from the “Where to Begin” article. Matt’s color coded diagrams are perfect for describing the process. One of the most important things learned form his demonstrations is that the hollows and rounds don’t do much of the work. Rabbets and chamfers do the heavy lifting, the brunt of the waste removal. photo showing a rabbet being planedThe hollows and rounds come last, only for the final shaping.

I started by ripping and jointing sticks that were 3/4 inch by 1 and something inches from a 1 by 3. No, actually I started by making a sticking board; didn’t have one. It’s simple, a long board that has as its width the measure from the front edge of my row of dogs to the edge of the bench. Add a fence and some screws for catching the sticks. Raise a few dogs. photo showing a chamfer being planedRaise the bench stop on the end of the bench, and get to sticking.

The only rabbet plane in my shop is an old (maybe 1940) Sargent #79 “moving filletster” plane. It’s really clunky to use, no fine adjustments. Yet, I got two nice rabbets from it. After the rabbets, a Stanley low angle block plane (about 1935) did the chamfers quickly. The work was completed with one of Mssrs Crow’s #9 hollow planes. photo showing use of #9 hollow planeI was very pleasantly surprised at how easily it worked. Clearly, I don’t have the experience to know if the #9 was exactly the right plane for the job, but it looked right, fit well onto the chamfer, and did a very nice job.

Other than getting good 90 degree corners, attaching the molding is straightforward. I used liquid hide glue for the long piece. Since it is long grain to long grain, I don’t think it needs any other fasteners. photo showing the shape of the moldingHere again the convenience of a long row of dog holes makes work easy. A couple of hold fasts secure one edge while disassembled clothes pins make great wedges for the other edge. For the end pieces, long grain to short grain, I used abundant glue at the miter joint and only a little along the rest of the joint. Three brads complete the attachment. A bit of finish planing after the glue sets and we have a shelf.

photo of gluing and clamping the long piecesThere is no glue in the final assembly. Knowing the wood is going to move, I’m going to let it. I used a pair of dowels at the joins of the brackets to the cleat. I think it’s enough to keep them working together, and I didn’t want to cut any fancy joints. Two screws through the board into each bracket and three screws through the board into the upper cleat complete the assembly.

photo of attaching the end pieceIf you look closely at a large view (click on the pictures), you’ll see that a few of the planes have visible numbers. That comes from a tip by Richard Darjes who suggested rubbing chalk on the numbers. Thanks Richard! Works great! Fills in the number stampings to be more noticeable and can be easily removed if wanted. Only a few have these “bright numbers.” They are the one whose irons have been sharpened. I add the chalk after honing an iron and testing it. The rest of the irons are down at the photo of several stacks of plane irons beside the sharpening stationsharpening station. I expect them to start clamoring anytime now.

The comptroller took a quick look at the completed shelf and asked why it is so long.

There are two possible answers. I answered that the extra space allows planes to tip over and not cascade off the shelf to the concrete floor. The planes are happy now. Me too.

photo of the completed shelf along with other parts of the tool wall a closer photo of the completed shelf photo of planes on the ocmpleted shelf showing "bright numbers"

Get Woodworking – Tip for New Woodworkers

Monday, February 6th, 2012

logo image

Hey new woodworkers, WELCOME. As you read about “Get Woodworking” this week, follow through by getting out to your workshop (whatever it is) and build something.

photo of pepper shaker and pile of Band-AidsHere’s a quick tip: keep these two simple things in your shop. Yep, Band-Aids and pepper.

Since most of my woodworking is with hand tools, the risk of injury is much lower than the woodworking that uses spinning sharp things. The most important rule with the sorts of tools I use is “Keep both hands behind the cutting edge.” When followed, it is very effective for avoiding all sorts of stabs and slashes. I have NOT YET cut my self with a woodcarving chisel or gouge while carving. The rule works.

However, I do occasionally draw blood while handling the tools … yeah, handling, not using. Typically, it’s just a light swipe or brush of an edge while sharpening or while picking tools up and putting them away. One very good things about surgically sharp tools is that they make very clean cuts which, don’t hurt much, heal very quickly, but sometimes bleed like the dickens. I hate getting blood on my woodworking projects.

Thus, Band-Aids and pepper, both close at hand. Having the Band-Aids is obvious; they stop the blood dripping on that beautiful freshly planed wood. The pepper? One word: coagulant. Being one of those people on a low dose aspirin regimen, my blood clots just a little slower than normal. I found this tip a long time ago at a woodcarving discussion. Lots of powders can be sprinkled on a wound to hasten coagulation. In fact almost any powder will work. Yet, whereas sawdust might contain toxic stuff from some species of wood, pepper is much safer, readily available, and cheap. And…. it does not sting. Sprinkle some on and wrap with a Band-Aid.

Next time you drag a knuckle across a plane iron, pass the pepper.

Grrrrrrrr Resolved

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Long long ago, I made a shooting board. Two features I included were an adjustable fence (can vary the angle), and a “donkey ear” for 45 degree shooting. (Note the wingnut and the slot in the fence that allows adjustment.) I used the shooting board earlier today to square the board I’m wrapping the moldings around. So, now it gets used again to fix these angles.

photo of a shooting board in use photo of fixed corner

Much happier now.


Grrrrrrrr – 93 degree corners

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

What comes after a Good Day in the Shop?

One of the very few “modern” tools I have in my shop is a not-often-used Jorgensen “Precision” Miter saw. Bought decades ago, it did an almost acceptable job of cutting baseboards. Have you ever found a square corner in a house? Making adjustments after a cut is an expected part of the work.

Fast forward to today. I’m cutting molding to wrap around the edges of a board that I have very carefully squared. Using the miter box’s built-in detents, my results are something like a 93 degree corner. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

photo of a metal miter box and saw photo of moldings that don't make a square corner