Handtool woodworking class

•April 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

Some time ago, I signed up for a handtool-only woodworking class here. So far, it’s been taking place four times, and one more time is to come. (It somehow sweetened the start into the week, since it is on Monday evening)

Please don't note that gap on the top of the right stretcher...

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Greenwood digressions

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m back from a busy week at our weekend home. Today, it’s image-and-comment-only day. (hint: the titles of the images appear when the mouse hovers over it)

update: cool, wordpress now offers slideshows. So, sit back and enjoy.

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Shoulder plane progress

•March 24, 2010 • 2 Comments

Meanwhile, I have started to work on the shoulder plane kit. So far, I haven’t made much progress, and, as you expected already, I don’t have work-in-progress pictures yet. As usual, I promise to deliver soon… In this case, I have a good reason, because I’m not working  in my shop or at home, but at work (after hours, of course), and I didn’t bring a camera with me. Continue reading ‘Shoulder plane progress’

The shoulder plane kit arrived

•March 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

I had a nice surprise today when I came home from work, my infill shoulder plane kit from Aled Dafis has arrived.  That was really quick – thanks Aled! I have seldom seen a kit that has been prepared with so much care. Already in unassembled kit form, this plane looks extremely cute, yet functional:

The kit, as it arrived. Sorry for the poor photography, I didn't have my SLR camera here, so I used the compact one

The instructions that come with it are really detailed, and  with instructive pictures for all critical steps. I looks like it would be entirely my fault if something goes wrong… I really can’t wait to start building. Since I don’t have much experience in metal work, I have talked a metal worker at my job into supervising my build of this kit (that was, in fact, quite easy). Plus the additional bonus that I can use his tools – after work, of course. Stay tuned, I’m going to document the build here on my blog.

Regarding the shoe rack: Obviously, there aren’t many design options for an utility furniture like that. I came up with a design similar to this one,  originally, I had planed to use three thin and long boards for each stretcher. For the short stretchers on the sides, I’d like to shape some curved, well, shapes, and I have already accounted for that with the mortises. But now, in the interest of gaining some skills regarding mortises and tenons, I have modified my plan for the long stretchers and plan follow Brian’s design and create 36 m&t joints. That should help.

So much for tonight, thanks for reading!


Instant lathe

•March 14, 2010 • 14 Comments

I’m back from a weekend in the shop, and I did deviate a little bit from my original plan to finish the shoe rack. However, I managed to finish the mortises and tenons on one side. During marking up, I broke my self-made marking knife, so I had to resort to use sub-optimal tools (i.e. a pencil. at least, it was sharpened…). Most of the joints came out o.k, though not perfect, but one of the six is a little bit twisted.

Happy mortising...

The reason is not the tenon, but probably the mortise, it might have not exactly square sides. I’m not sure what to do about that – if I pare the mortise to be square, the tenon won’t fit tight enough, and if I pare the tenon, I’ll have the same problem. Hm. Maybe with suitable clamping, the problem will go away –

The reason for the deviation of the original plan was a blog post that I recently read – atm, I can’t find the link. Anyway, this blog post described an end-vise pole lathe, and I had a go to construct this ingenious device.

Assembled pole lathe, and work in progress. Note my new chisel in the foreground.

Basically, the two puppets are two somewhat longer benchdogs, they slip into the  dog holes of the workbench and the end vise, and thus, you have an instant, length-adjustable lathe.

The two bench dogs / puppets

For the rope, I used a bungee cord hooked into a clamp on the roof, and that was all I needed to start turning. Since I had never turned before, I had a somewhat steep learning curve, my chisels might not be the ideal turning tools. However, after some hours, I managed to turn a handle for my precision plane adjusting hammer with hexagonal brass head (photo soon, I forgot to shoot one), I used birch, which looks quite pretty. (The handle won’t last forever, some bugs have apparently munched happily in there).

The whole setup. Please note the sophisticated foot pedal.

Oh, and next weekend, a large birch will be taken down on the estate – what do you think, should I secure some logs and dry them? Or is that a useless idea?

So much for now, have a good start in the week,


Shoulder plane kit

•March 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

Surfing through the web, I found this great-looking plane in kit form:

(the picture is shamelessly linked from the original website, http://www.infillplane.co.uk/)

After some contemplation, I found that I don’t own a shoulder plane, and I remembered that I really messed up some tenon shoulders  last time when I tried to pare them with a chisel. And I consulted the metalworker at my job, and he got quite excited about those dovetails, and he agreed that he would not only supervise (and teach me basic metalworking) me when building this, but that I also could use his tools. After work, of course.

After having reached this point, I dropped Aled an email and ordered the kit. Now I’m waiting for the kit to arrive… Oh, and my plan is to document my catastrophic failure in metal working here on this blog.

This weekend, it’s shop time again. The plan is to finish the side pieces of the previously mentioned shoe rack, by shaping the stretchers with a draw knife (I came up with a hopefully pretty design idea) and m&t-joining them to legs.

Oh, and by the way, if you plan to build a rack with three boards, each separated from the other by 20cm, the resulting total heigth (and length of the side pieces) is not 60cm. Stupid me (but it could have been worse – I could have shortened the legs to 40cm, and later find out that I’d have needed 60..)

And, in the evenings, when the daylight is gone (I still don’t have electric light in the shop), I’ll try to sharpen those moulding planes, as suggested by Dan here.

So long, thanks for reading.

Lessons learnt

•March 8, 2010 • 3 Comments

I’m back from a busy weekend in the shop. Lessons learnt so far:

  • The jointer at work. See those fine endgrain shavings?

    The jointer is a massive beast, and a great plane, useful for almost any purpose. And it outperforms all my other planes on the shooting board, probably because it’s so heavy. And also, because my sharpening improves with every iron, and the last iron that I sharpened is the jointer blade.

  • A single bench dog works great as planing stop. But make sure to retract it below board height, and don’t hit it with the jointer. You’ll regret it, and furthermore, you spend half an hour of valuable shop time with recovering from this mistake using a water stone.
  • When sawing tenons with a Ryoba, splitting the line on your side on the board works quite well. That, however, does not mean that you split the line on the back side as well, and, if your saw wanders off, it won’t wander into the waste side, but into the other side. Note: This only happens on those sides of the joint which will be visible on the finished piece (the plus side: splitting the line on the invisible parts means also, that it is possible to saw accurately)

    My first hand-sawn tenon. This is the inside of the tenon - by the way, on this piece, the scribe lines were sawn accurately on the other side as well, which rendered me high spirited and a bit careless for the subsequent tenons...

  • Paring tenon cheeks with a 12 mm chisel (roughly 1/2 in) is suboptimal. Someone buy me a larger chisel.

    Not too bad. Note to self: don't overdo it with paring the tenon shoulder. You'll regret it. On the bottom right, you can see the previously mentioned self-made marking knife.

  • Believe it or not, it is possible to cut yourself with the Veritas marking gauge, that one with the cutting wheel.
  • Clamping a jack plane upside down in the bench vise is great for controlled shaping of irregularly shaped stock (I tried to shape a hammer handle from a piece of birch). It is also suitable for uncontrolled removing of skin shavings.

All in all, this was really an enjoyable and encouraging weekend in the shop. The sawing turned out much better then I thought, I was actually a bit afraid of it. Considering saws: I have a Dozuki and a Ryoba, and I am quite happy with both of them. However, since I try a traditional approach on woodworking, and since  I am based in Germay, I should probably get a bow saw. As far as I know (and also as my woodworking bible from Tage Frid says), the bowsaw is the traditional all-purpose workhorse saw in German woodworking shops. I don’t think that we have those fine, large back saws in Germany, at least not traditionally. Pedder, what is your opinion on that?

So much for now, thanks for reading!