October 28, 2011

Oh, Scrap!

Every once in a while I look around and wonder, "when am I going to use that?"  I'm not talking about that Little Orphan Annie decoder ring in my sock drawer.  I use that all the time.  I'm talking about the leftovers and scraps in my shop.

I have all sorts of scrap.  There's the usual rough lumber pieces left after initial project milling.  Then there's the cutoffs from cutting board blanks and a few extra bits or drawer sides and backs.  But then there's the offcuts from tenons and other small pieces nary 1/4" thick and rarely more than 1 1/2" in any dimension.  Not to mention the garbage bag of shavings I have tucked into the corner.  I'm not a total pack rat, but I wonder sometimes how much of it I really will use at some time in the future.

With the holidays approaching you never know what small bits your may need to accent those gift projects.

What's the smallest bit of scrap you've got laying around?  Have any good plans for their use?

P.S.  I switched to a different comment system that provided threaded comments and the ability to directly reply to someone's comment.  Please let me know if you're having any issues.

October 21, 2011

My workholding just got a lot better

My shop is evolving.

The work I've done in the past has been don on the top of a shop made cabinet.  It's a little over 24" deep and 32" tall, a typical cabinet, but not a typical work surface.  The main trouble is there is nothing to hold anything down.  A concoction of wooden handscrew clamps held down with f-clamps or quick clamps has been my vise and any planing has been done on a set of bench hooks to stop the work from sliding back onto the worktop and a scrap of wood thinner than what is being planed wedged against the adjoining wall to act as a planing stop of sorts.  While far from ideal, this setup actually works.  A ton of movement is possible and I really don't like beating up my Bad Axe Toolworks bench hooks like that.  Not to mention there are issues with the stock thickness interfering with all members of the support crew.

The old way, don't mind the mess in the background :)

Now, meet the newest, smallest addition to the workshop.

The Veritas Wonder Pup

This little guy from Veritas is awesome.  A simple little clamping bench dog. (the Wonder Dog is available too, with a longer post to go through thicker work surfaces) With a bench dog (Thanks, TW toolworks!) at one end of the work and the Pup clamping the other, I can now traverse work without issue.  I'm not sure why I waited to get one of these, but the increase in holding ability is fantastic.  I can plane more accurately, more quickly, and with way less stress wondering where things will fly when the work slips, slides, and twists out of the way.

The new way

I plan on using square dogs in my proper bench, whenever that gets built, but this little guy will still have a place along the back row to help out when he can.

Next up in clamping improvements?  The Benchcrafted Moxon Vise!


October 14, 2011

My first real woodworking project

   Now, I'm not exactly a spring chicken.  I framed and trimmed houses for years before trying to make anything out of hardwood.  There's a fair amount of precision involved in trimming a house, and I'm damn handy with a coping saw and crown molding.

   I got my first inspiration, as many others have, from Marc at thewoodwhisperer.com.  He made a great video about making an end grain cutting board.  I thought, "Hey, those look great!  Why not make 4? One for every household on my wife's side of the family.  You know, for Christmas presents."

   I took that inspiration and recalled a copy of Wood magazine from a couple years before on the same subject.  I took both ideas to the (CAD) drawing board to figure out a little bit of board economy.  That seems like a bit of overkill, but I wanted to figure out the best way to use 4 species, Rock Maple, Cherry, Purpleheart and Mahogany, to make 4 different board patterns.  I was set on 3/4" strips, 1 1/4" thick of varying widths from 3/4" to 2".

   I won't go into details, as you can find them on Marc's site.  The technique is fairly simple.  Prepare stock, rip to width, glue. Mill blank to uniform thickness, crosscut, assemble pattern, glue. (Is that glossing over it a bit too much?)  The last part, for me, was the toughest.  Making one at a time wouldn't have been as bad, but having 4 boards in the works at once had me using every clamp in my arsenal and obviously doing 4x the work at once.  When the blanks were dry from their last gluing, I used a card scraper and sander to smooth both sides and all edges.  I routed out recesses on the short sides to act as handles, and rounded over the top edges.  I then sanded to 400 grit and applied a few (4-6) coats of General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish thinned with mineral spirits.

   As my first project with hardwoods, I was pleasantly pleased, and they were well received.  This was the start of  a bit of a tradition with me making hand made presents for the holidays.  My wife is still asking when she'll get one. Someday, Honey.

October 7, 2011

Just the beginning . . .

Hi, I'm Sean.

I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, and have decided to finally start a blog.  I am a hand tool enthusiast in the process of setting up shop in the corner of my basement (hence the title).  This past weekend I attended Woodworking in America for a day, hanging out in the marketplace.  The night before there was a meetup at Keystone Bar of woodworking bloggers and friends that got me really excited about sharing like so many others.  Kari Hultman particularly encouraged me to finally start blogging.  I looked around that room and recognized so many faces that I recognized from their own online workshops tales that I knew I needed to get going.

I, like so many others, grew up watching Norm and St. Roy on PBS on the weekends.  I never really had any thought to try much of my own work.  There was no shop class in school, and, although my Dad is very handy, there just wasn't a lot of hand crafting being done.  Along the way, after High School and some college, I found myself framing houses.  I learned a ton doing that, including the fact that I'm pretty handy with tools.  My Dad has a fairly complete shop with a really all you'd need to work, but that's not my house, and I don't have room in this 1,000 sq.ft. house to have much in the way of a full featured modern shop.

I have a huge list of projects in mind.  Some shop related - a workbench, sawbench, dedicated sharpening station, etc. That will all help me build more and more often, which is a good thing.

Speaking of sawbenches, I'm in the middle of breaking down 2x10's for a Schwarz inspired bench (with handsaws, of course).  Needless to say, I'm very pleased with this: