November 11, 2011

Boxes, a lesson learned

It was holiday gift time again, and I wanted to make spline mitered boxes.  Simple form, shouldn't be too hard to make.  I went to my lumber supplier and picked up some shorts of curly and birdseye maple.  I had some cherry left over and plenty of thin scraps for the splines.

The original idea was for a roughly 6"x4" lidded box with recessed hinges.  All the stock was milled to 3/4" and away I went, cutting the sides to length and then the miters using a slightly modified crosscut sled.  It wasn't until I had them all cut and dry fit the boxes together before cutting the keyways for the splines that I realized the error of my haste.

All the time I spent drawing things up, devising what species to mix to make the splines stand out, I never considered how small the inside of the box would be considering the stock thickness.  You see, a 6"x4" box with sides this thick left inside dimensions of roughly 4 1/2"x2 1/2"  Severely smaller than I had envisioned, but I pressed on anyway.  In the end, they're not even big enough to hold recipe cards.

I delivered them to the family holiday party filled with cinnamon mints and they were well received.

Tiny boxes in a row

Lids up!

So, what's the lesson learned?  Think it through, all the way.  I was really upset with myself when I realized what I had done.  I spend a little more time before each cut now and try to have a complete idea of what I'm making in mind.  Working without a plan of any sort, this type of thing can happen.

November 5, 2011

The [drill] doctor will see you now

I've been on the hunt lately for hand drills.  I've never owned one, first used a brace and bit at WIA 2010.  I did pretty well and really think it's a good skill to have in a hand tool shop.  I'll likely fall back on my corded friends purely because they're so much more convenient, but I love to learn new skills.

I shopped around for a while and pulled the trigger on a Millers Falls No. 5.

While I don't want to spend too much of my time and money rehabbing old, rusty tools, I'm not sure you can find a quality hand drill anymore.  I  picked one up off of Ebay for less than $30.

It was a little tough to turn when I got it and, after taking the easy-to-remove bits off, I discovered a decent layer of schmootz on it.

I took out some WD-40, paper towels, a flat head screwdriver and an abrasive pad and spent the next half hour or so scouring what I could out of the nooks and crannies.

I dripped a bit of oil in the lubricating holes and behind the upper pinion to loosen things up.  A little really does go along way.  I wasn't brave enough to bang out the pins to totally disassemble the drive shaft, gears, and handle.  When I get my hand on some ball bearing grease, I may take on that task to really make it a smooth mover.  The only problem I have with it is that it predates a spring assisted chuck.  Upon advancing the jaws, they hold plenty tight, but releasing said pressure doesn't always let go.  I actually have to manually push a pin or 2 back a bit to release the bit.  Not a biggy, I really don't think I'll be doing any major drilling with this.  The 3/16" max opening limits is use a bit.

While it's nothing like what wktools produces, It'll work just fine in my shop.