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The newest PopWood arrived int he mail recently and it contains my latest article for them. If the topic interests you, I hope you will join me at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking where my workshop on parquetry will revolve around making and using these jigs.
I still have that box and every so often I take it out to look at and compare it to my latest one. I did that tonight. The joints on my first one look like the ones I did tonight. My confidence in myself to whack out a set of dovetails is way higher than then. I saw faster without hesitating and I chop the pin/tail waste out almost nonchalantly now. I'm comfortable doing dovetails whether they are through or half blinds. I still get that feeling now everytime I put a box together off the saw.
|prepping my chisels|
|quick check on the contents fitting|
|one block doing triple duty|
|this is getting better too|
|3 flush and 1 shy on the bottom|
|there was a tiny bit of twist|
|set my distance from the edge and the depth|
|plowed my grooves|
|length for the bottom stick|
|repeat for the short dimension|
What is the country once known as Burma now called?
answer - Myanmar
As we run-up this week to nuptials for Younger Daughter we were blessed with a visit from her last weekend. Much of the time she spent with Mrs. Barn doing wedding-y stuff, but she spent a few hours in the shop with me turning a bowl. The wood for this bowl came from a plum tree in the Maryland house yard that died of natural causes some years ago (she remembers climbing the tree as a tyke), and I harvested the wood and set it aside for something special. This definitely fits the description.
I had in recent months found the faceplate for the lathe and ordered a threaded insert from Woodcraft so it could be put to work. Before she arrived I mounted the piece on the faceplate and roughed it round (she is not yet experienced enough to bring a really rough piece to round comfortably). The lathe is a bit high for her, so in the early stages she was most comfortable with the scraper tucked in the armpit. I will be building a lower base in the coming weeks.
I gave her only a few pointers as she developed the outer shape she wanted.
Before long she had the outer surface defined and embarked on an initial sanding and polishing.
With the base established and the shape determined it was time to remove the faceplate in favor of the small bowl chuck and get started excavating the interior.
Soon she was in pretty deep.
We stopped for the night, but on returning the next day she refined the shape and surface.
To be sure the watchful papa bear was never far from the action. The working height was just plain awkward for her but she hung in there without complaint.
After the final shaping she moved to sanding and then polishing with beeswax melted into the surface, buffed with a linen rag while turning. She particularly liked my method of placing a dry sponge between the hand and the sandpaper, it allows greater vigor with less heat.
And here it is, an heirloom with a priceless memory attached. In all likelihood it was our final private time together with her as Miss Barndaughter until those moments just before I walk her down the aisle, and it was a precious treasure.
Doggone, something must’ve flown into my eye…
|trying a bigger starter hole|
|only got about an extra 1/8" with just my fingers|
|went up to the next sized hole|
|roughly half way but still not deep enough for finger work|
|the 1/4-20 wins|
|this is still a good tap|
|gaps to fill|
|sawing out a filler piece|
|flushed the plywood panels to the bottom|
|sized the filler side to side|
|set the marking gauge off the pencil line on the block of wood|
|ran my gauge line and I'm going to try and split off the waste|
|it worked much better that I expected it|
|planed it down to the gauge lines|
|it fits but it is too snug|
|planed a bit more and glued it in place|
|slight round over on the top|
|finished it with some 100 grit sandpaper|
|much nicer feeling now|
|layout for the 1/4-20 and drilled a pilot hole through both|
|two different sized holes drilled next|
|will they line up?|
|yes they did|
|this is going to work good for this|
|a coat of poly|
|new shelf for the finishing cabinet|
|neither end is square|
|squared up the ends|
|new shelf done|
|sanded and planed the aris off|
|lost the measurements for the box - height redone|
|double check on the width|
|height laid out|
|waste sawn off|
|4 box parts sawn|
|ran into a hiccup|
I ran all the box parts through the tablesaw to get them parallel. I was then able to square the ends and have them all match up and be flush with each other.
|got my continuous grain flow around the box|
|my first one|
|used it to check where the tails and pins go|
|prepping my chisels for the dovetailing|
What is boustrophedon?
answer - writing in alternate directions one line to the next (ie one line R to L and the next L to R)
With the foundation laid for good finishing it was time to move on to undulating surfaces, the kind of finishing that gives many woodworkers fits and nightmares. Fortunately it is no more complicated or straightforward than finishing plain flat surfaces. It’s all about surface prep, varnish prep, and tool selection.
Switching to the “carver’s model” polissoir the surfaces were burnished in preparation for varnishing.
Then, on to applying the varnish. The true key to success is the right brush, a fine bristle watercolor “Filbert” with a rounded tip.
The Filbert allows for tremendously good “drape” of the bristles around the surface, not sqeegeing off varnish with the resulting runs like you might get with a square tip brush.
A few applications of the shellac varnish to these surfaces and they were ready to set aside, to be burnished with steel wool and waxed later on.
Next we revisited the luan panels we had started the day before, undertaking a light scraping with disposable razor blades followed by a brief but vigorous rubbing with 0000 steel wool. I have found scraping to be not only historically accurate (obviously not with modern disposable razor blades, but the concept and practice are still the same) but now to be an integral component in my finishing process.
Then another inning of shellac application, followed at the end of the day by the third and final inning. By then the surface was beginning to get some sparkle.
One last exercise was to finish a raised panel door. I do not recall where these came from but they have served me well in this regard for many moons. Again, a few applications of shellac followed by rubbing out with steel wool and paste wax yielded a luxuriant surface.
The large panels were rubbed out the third morning with steel wool and wax, and buffed with soft cloth. The result was, as one participant said, “The best looking piece of luan ever!”
By mid-day on Sunday the party started breaking up, but the students left with a new confidence and a sharpened set of skills. Folks may be reluctant to come to The Barn on White Run because of its remote location, but once here they always love it and go home with more knowledge and skill than they arrived with. That’s not a bad outcome.
What do dentil molding and box and knuckle joints have in common? If you look at the opening photo, you’ll get a hint. What do you see?
I’ll tell you what I see. I see a woodworking jig that is super easy to make in the shop, and is extremely accurate when properly constructed. And better yet, this jig is multi-purpose in so far as it is used to produce each of the items mentioned in the post’s title.
|screws to reinforce the brush box hangers|
|no back needed - the cabinet side will be the back|
|planed the door and the box until I got a seamless joint line - this is the hinge side|
|hinge from Ace Hardware - not too crappy for the $$$|
|fairly thick with a big hinge pin|
|I'm getting much better at installing hinges|
|the first of a couple of brain farts|
|brain fart #2 - hinged the door on the wrong side|
|hinges set and I marked the door for the overhang|
|the top and bottom aren't planed flush but the long side was|
|square and about a 32nd proud - this way I won't see the inside frame of the box with it closed|
|got room for a couple of more brushes - I can hang some on the door too|
|one last problem - the bottom hinge is hinge bound - the door won't lay flat|
|drill caddy is next - scrap of ash and it needs 8 holes|
|needed help with the 10mm bit|
|drilled these two again - not enough slop for my liking|
|box slip on cover coming - plowed 1/8" grooves on both edges|
|fence is square to the ledge but the board is off square|
|squared the fence to plane|
|dead nuts square now|
|need a recess for the side to slip over the caddy|
|hand chopped the recess about an 1/8" deep|
|it's a loose fit|
|router got both recesses to the same depth|
|dry fit of the sides|
|slips over the drill caddy easily - there is no bottom on this|
|mitering the top|
|left the lines|
|planed to the same length|
|marking the top a bit long and I'll plane it to fit|
|what I have to plane off|
|dry fit is good and it is square - glued it up and set it aside|
|I will secure the half box on the drill caddy with a 1/4-20 thumbscrew|
|I done threads in wood before with good results|
|comes with a chart|
|chamfered the top edge and the holes|
|#6 used first to get close to the lines|
|switched to the #5 here, then the 4 1/2, and finally the #3|
|the thicknessing herd|
|both boards to thickness - tomorrow I can start to make the box|
|decided to make a practice run on this|
|had to switch drills|
|as far as I can get it with my fingers - about a 1/4"|
|had to use pliers to get in this far and back it out|
|looks a half of an astragal profile|
|back of the iron - pretty clean|
|front of the iron - not very sharp but relatively clean|
|I know this has a quirk but not I'm sure what the name of this profile is|
|back of the iron|
|the front - looks sharp but it isn't|
|this is what matters the most|
|found another plane with the same profile but smaller|
|bottom left and top right|
|burr on the back|
|looks like this side has some kind of bluing on it|
|it looks ratty looking but it is in pretty good shape|
|the boxing on the back of the mouth is loose|
|couldn't get the profile|
|worse looking iron so far|
|back side - ten minutes on the stones and this will look totally different|
|what is stamped on the plane|
|This plane has my attention - how do you plane a profile with it?|
|tried using the bevel on the edge and got nowhere|
What is the only bird that can fly backwards?
answer - the hummingbird
With everything going on out there, I thought it might be nice to look at a few (slightly) amusing things I found at a recent auction. First up is this chair:
Pair of Venetian Carved Oak Curule Chairs
Description: Mid 20th century, relief carved crest rail with arms terminating in lions heads and rings, raised on ball and claw feet, crest rail detaching to allow chair to fold.
Size: 34 x 24 x 19 in.
Note: Purchased by consignor in Venice.
We’ve all seen various versions of this chair and wondered what’s its story. From Wikipedia:
A curule seat is a design of chair noted for its uses in ancient and Europe through to the 20th century. Its status in early Rome as a symbol of political or military power carried over to other civilizations, as it was also utilized in this regard by Kings in Europe, Napoleon, and others.
My question: Does it fold?
And the lions match:
Next, we have:
Antique English Oak Tantalus
Description: Circa 1900, oak case with silverplate mounts, locking hinged handle releases three cut glass decanters.
Size: 13 x 14 x 5 in.
An attractive and interesting way to carry and display your best liquor. Then you notice the lock on the handle:
Again, from Wikipedia:
A Tantalus is a small wooden cabinet containing two or three decanters. Its defining feature is that it has a lock and key. The aim of that is to stop unauthorised people drinking the contents (in particular, “servants and younger sons getting at the whisky”),while still allowing them to be on show. The name is a reference to the unsatisfied temptations of the Greek mythological character Tantalus.
Not to be confused with Tantalus, a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus.
(Also, not to be confused with the Tantalus Field of the original Star Trek, season 2, episode 4, Mirror, Mirror. Bad Kirk)
And finally, this:
Cast Bronze Figure of a Rabbit
Description: Late 20th century, patinated bronze, possibly Maitland Smith, unmarked.
Size: 16 in.
What was he holding? Could it be a Confederate rabbit? A Federal rabbit?
The first blog entry about my father’s inventing career (September 2011) was titled “Covington, Kentucky, A Family Mystery.” (Click here to read it.) My sister, Sarah Vogt, and I were beginning to document the timeline of his personal and professional life. His scrap book from high school, college, and three years following had recently been sent to me by my (now late) half sister, Emily Postma. There were no clarifying remarks or dates on the photos, and they weren’t necessarily in chronological order. There was a letter of introduction to a bank in England and a photo of him (on the right) sitting with an unknown gentleman.
The post raised a question as to why he was making a transatlantic voyage in 1914- was it specific to his delay detonation device for missiles (click here to read about it), a topic also being researched?
The story has since been filled in and this post is an update. The military patent came later, and this trip was to advance his knowledge of refrigeration, with visits to refrigerating manufacturers (presumably) in France and Germany.
From a publication called “Ice and Refrigeration” under the heading “Frigerous Particulars” (August 1914) was this announcement:
“Clarence W. Vogt, of the Henry Vogt Machine Company, Louisville, KY, sailed July 13 on the S.S. New Amsterdam to visit the various icemaking and refrigerating plants in Europe.”
Little did he know how short- lived his visit would be, and of the earth shaking event whose beginning he would witness first hand.
The following nine pictures are scanned from his scrap book. The first is of an unmarked liner.
The next is of an automobile showroom with the name BENZ. The details are clearer on the actual photograph.
The next four images are from a seaside location where bathhouses on wheels were rolled into the surf.
Cars and women in swimsuits. Welcome, 20th century!
The final three are taken at an outdoor market. As I woodworker, I am drawn to the crates, boxes, and wine cart.
We have no specific information as to his initial travels once he reached Southampton, or his proposed itinerary. We do know, from oral history, where he was on August 4, 1914:
“One evening when I was a child, Daddy told me many stories about experiences he’d had in wartime Europe. His stories were so vivid that I have remembered the details very clearly (even though I wasn’t old enough then to have any real understanding). Here’s one. Daddy told me that he’d gone to Europe to study advances in refrigeration. One night, when he was attending a ‘dance hall’ in Belgium, the music stopped. And over the PA system came the announcement that the Germans were invading their country at that very moment!! The questions that I have for him now!” – Sarah Vogt.
The Rape of Belgium was soon to follow.
He then joined the mad scramble of thousands of Americans fleeing the continent. The Louisville Journal, Sunday August 16th, had front page stories of accounts of:
“The Plights of Louisvillians Stranded in Europe by the Invasion 2 Aug’14.”
“Escape Russia On Last Train” “Harrowing Journey Across The Frontier To Berlin” “Miss Ada Lewis Hart Writes of Race For Safety” “Louisville Feminine Party Arrives In London” “Hasty Departure. Letter Gives Experience Of Louisville Party In Paris.”
Among the listings is “Three Arrive From Europe. Miss McGill, Miss Maloney and Clarence Vogt Now In New York.”
“Clarence W. Vogt, who was touring abroad, arrived Wednesday night on the Philadelphia, according to a communication received from him yesterday. Mr. Vogt stated he had been forced to travel in the steerage of the liner for a part of the voyage from Southampton, from which port the Philadelphia sailed August 6th. He said that he managed, however, to get into the first cabin on the second day out. He is now stopping at the Knickerbocker, in New York, but will leave to-day for a short visit to his mother in Bay View, Mich., after which he will return home.”
A few things to note about the above. My father’s personal force and drive were such that the poor steward on the ship Philadelphia had no chance- place my father in steerage? He was lucky not to have been tossed to the waves.
My father’s youngest brother, Alvin, was a fraternity brother at Princeton University of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s and they gambled together at the Knickerbocker Hotel.
My grandfather, Adam Vogt, had built a home in Bay View, Michigan, renowned for the freshest air in America, as a summer residence at the Chautauqua retreat for my grandmother in particular, to escape the brutal Louisville summer heat and humidity.
Clarence’s arrival in Michigan was confirmed by this telegram announcement:
He returned to life with his young wife, Ruth (née Duncan) in Louisville and continued work for the HVMC. When the US went to war, he was called up in the first draft, by-passed boot camp, and went directly as vice-lieutenant to the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia where he solved the technical issues on the delay detonation device for missiles. From there he went to serve in France as a captain in the in 4th Ordnance Heavy Artillery. More on this in a later post.
|24" x 30" 9mm (3/8") plywood|
I got asked why plywood for the bottom and not solid wood. After all I'm a wanna be hand tool woodworker? I plan on gluing blocks in the box to hold the plane and the two fences. With plywood I can ignore expansion and contraction issues. I can also ignore any potential problems with any cross grain gluing. Plywood gives me freedom to position gluing blocks wherever I need them. I think the plywood bottom will be stronger too.
|from last night|
|I got lucky|
|plenty of room|
|it's eventual home|
|it isn't laying flat anymore|
|this confirmed the twist|
|halved the twist check|
|checked the long sides too|
|sawing out the top one|
|the twisted board from the plow plane box|
|it makes a difference which face is up|
|gap here and at the bottom short edge|
|opposite face up|
|my hinge choices are a bit slim|
What is a gyne?
answer - A female social insect (bee, wasp,ant,etc) that has the potential to become a reproductive queen.
I recently hosted and taught a “Historic Finishes” workshop at the barn, with five attendees from around the country and my long-time friend DaveR as a teaching collaborator. The objectives were to help the students overcome any hesitancy about finishing by learning new habits and techniques, and the results of the exercises indicate success.
Our first exercise was the one that was most time sensitive in that it required three inning of finishing over two days, which was pushing the technology a tad. Fortunately the weather was cooperative. The task at hand was to take an essentially unprepared 24″ x 48″ panel of luan from Lowes to see what could be done with it, some well-prepared shellac varnish, and good brush. After a brief scuff sanding with 220 they began to lay down the 1-1/2 pound shellac as I have taught multitudes before them. The purpose is of exercise to overcome the trepidation in applying shellac spirit varnish.
Next came the grain-filling of some solid mahogany panels with molten beeswax as the foundation for pad polishing. This was how they did it in the old days, and it is still my preferred technique. The wax was melted in using a tacking iron (I cannot believe I did not get any more of this on camera), then scraping off the excess and buffing it out with linen.
Even at this point the results are impressive and in some circumstances the finishing would be called complete.
DaveR came on stage next to introduce pad spirit-varnish polishing, sometimes known as “French” polishing,
All eyes were glued to Dave as he walked through the process of this technique which has garnered much (undeserved?) mystical reverence.
He demonstrated the process of making a good pad, or “rubber,” which can last a finisher for decades, and before long they all set to making their own.
And the padding began.
Before long we were seeing some mighty fine sheen.
It was time to introduce the newest tool in the contemporary finisher’s kit, the polissoir. Everyone got their own brand new one that needed to be tuned up on a piece of fine sandpaper.
And out to work, first over bare scraped wood, then in concert with beeswax that had been scrubbed on to the surface.
Again, the final results were immediate and gratifying.
Up next, brushing carvings and other undulating surfaces.
|out of the way|
|they will fit in this spot on a nail|
|this would work (box not to scale)|
|the et al.....|
|gave in a bought a metric set|
|having no luck with this|
|dead nuts straight|
|could use some help|
|my miter box awaits it somewhere underneath the wood|
|the last et al......|
|the big iron is sharp but grungy looking|
|nickel plated instead of brass|
|depth rod is sticky|
|two problems on the spear point iron|
|breaking it down to parade rest|
|stock for the brush box|
|sawed the one tail on both sides together|
|pins chopped out|
|glued and setting up|
|I saved it from the garbage|
I got the new stock gauged for thickness at 9/16". 5/8 was awfully close and there were a few spots where the knife wasn't biting on any wood. I need a continuous line 360 to guide me when planing to thickness. I'll do the thicknessing tomorrow after work.
Which US President had the oath of office administered to him by his father?
answer - Calvin Coolidge was sworn in by his justice of the peace father in 1923
PS Made a mistake on the Timeless Tools and Treasure blurb. I was not (I forgot the not) paid for that nor would I accept one. I want this blog to be ad free and solely of my opinions.
In earlier posts, I used CAD software to create the 2D design for the BARN Workbench vise chop and the I built a pin registration board for two-sided machining on my CNC. Rather than a square and blocky shape for the vise, I used 3D drawing tools in Rhino3D to give it a gently curved shape. Now, for the fun part: creating 3D textures and patterns that are applied to […]
The post CAD to CAM to CNC: Part Four — Creating a 3D Surface appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Let’s face it, a lot of woodworking is really box building. The good news is that a little bit of simple joinery and a little extra effort can make any box look incredible! The perfect example is a jewelry box, or other small-box build. By adding feet to the box it quickly becomes more than a box. The type of feet can define a fairly plain box design by style. Make […]
Before the cabinet was made I had a bazillion cans of finish and other ancillary finishing crap scattered over this corner of the shop. A real eye sore and a PITA at times trying to find something. This was the second driving force for the cabinet. Making it would free up a lot of horizontal storage real estate that I can fill up with other shop crappola. Of which I seem to be able to generate an over abundance of.
|was cleared off and now slowly filling back up|
That entailed putting on the workbench all the cans, brushes, jars, boxes, etc that I wanted to put in the cabinet. Moving things around, spreading them out, and stacking them on each other gave me a visual for how tall, wide, and deep to make the cabinet. I played with this until the measurements I got were to my liking and fit the stuff I wanted in the cabinet.
This cabinet is just a big box. If you can make a small box then making this shouldn't be a problem. You can dovetail the corners, use butt joints with nails or screws, rabbet joints, finger joints, through mortise and tenons, or in my case, a rabbeted tongue joint. I have made a lot of cabinets with this joint and this time I made them by hand.
|scraped off a blob of paint and I can't seem to remember to paint it again - this is want I call a rabbeted tongue joint|
I am not a fan of adjustable shelving because I don't like the multiple holes that you see. Shelf standards aren't much better. With either one, you don't get that invisible look as to how is the shelf holding itself up? But fixed shelving would have locked me into something I wouldn't be able to change down the road. I put in two adjustable shelves with the necessary pin holes that will allow me put a shelf within 6" of the top and 8" of the bottom. One shelf is not as wide as the other to allow easier eyeballing of what is beneath it. I don't want anything to die in some dark corner of the bottom shelf because I couldn't see it.
|my offset shelves|
Now that I knew what size to make the cabinet it was time to do the joinery. I had already decided on a rabbeted tongue joint. But it doesn't matter and don't let the size of it intimidate you. It is just a big box. Again, if you can make a small one, you can make a big one.
If you are having problems visualizing what 21" W x 28" T x 11 1/2" D looks like hanging on the wall, make one out cardboard boxes. Duct tape pieces together until you get the size and tape it to the wall where you want to put it. Look for anything that may be in way of the door swing? Don't forget to look above for catch points. Look too to see how you have the cabinet positioned in relation to the overhead and what is beneath it.
In my case I had a floor cabinet there and my first placement left only 5" between the two. I wanted at least at foot so I had to raise the cabinet up. With raising the cabinet up, I lost the space on top of it to put my radio on. My cabinet ended up within a couple of inches of the floor joists. I had to make another shelf to hold the radio but that wasn't too bad of an issue to deal with.
Carcass figured out and now it was time to work on the door. I decided on a two panel, frame and panel door. You can put the panels in horizontally but on a door like this I think that would look funny. And I'm not a fan of ladder style doors neither. I used two vertical panels with a center stile.
Due to the width of the door I nixed using a single panel, be it a single board or a glued up one. From an aesthetic point (mine) I thought a single panel would look awkward and out of place. Then there is the strength issue. Would the frame be able to hold the panel flat over time and not distort.
I make my stiles, top rail, and center stiles, all the same size. The bottom rail I make at least a 1/2" wider the others. This is something that is open to a lot interpretation based on personal tastes. I make the stile width over twice the length of the tenon going into it as a minimum. I usually make blind mortises and I don't use stub tenons. I think that they are too small and aren't anywhere near as strong as the former.
On my door I used 1x4 stock so I based my stiles and rails off of that. The door is a fairly large one so the scale of stiles fit the scale of the door. I used through tenons on the rails and the center stile. I used through tenons because I chopped them by hand because I thought those would be easier to do than a blind mortise (my first chopping of mortises by hand). I used through tenons on the center stile for strength and to help keep the door frame flat.
I made my door a 1/4" wider than the width and 1 1/4" longer than the top to bottom length. The width was planed off flush after the door was hung. I left the overhang on the bottom because that is my 'handle'. I didn't use a knob or handle on the front of this door. If I hadn't done this, then I would have made the door over sized the same as the width. That would have allowed wiggle room for fitting the door to the actual opening.
|my door 'handle'|
The width of the stile and riles vary with me according to the size of the opening the door will cover. I do it strictly by eye. I don't use any Fibonacci ratios or Pythagorean formulas. If it looks good and I mean not too skinny nor too fat (wide), I'm good. There are lot of design books available on line and most are based on ancient design forms. They have lots of rules and regulations on stiles and rails and the sizing of most other things. I say that is nice but if it looks good to you, go with it. Why should someone else tell me what I think looks good?
The last decision I made on the door were the panels. There are a lot of different choices that can be made here. First one I thought of was a flat panel of solid wood sized to fit the grooves. Another choice is a 3/4" thick solid wood panel with a rabbet that fits the groove (plywood would also work too). The rabbet could face in or out depending upon your preference. Of the two, I think the rabbeted panel is a better choice. It is thicker and stronger than a 1/4" thick panel.
A raised panel is a traditional choice and it was what I used. I have a molding plane to make raised panels and that is what I used. There are a lot of hand or machine made panel making options to pick and choose from. One panel choice at the top of my to do list is a oval or circular panel in place of flat bevels. I like this one much more than the beveled panels and I have made them in the past with a horizontal router table with a special panel raising bit. And the circular ones can be made to fit the grooves exactly with out having to rabbet the back.
With all the decisions made on what and how, I went to the shop and made it. Although making it was spread out over a week or two, I don't think the total time to make it was much more than 14-16 hours.
Who was the first president to have the oath of office administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
answer - our second president, John Adams
In this episode of 360 with 360WoodWorking, Bradley McCalister is back to talk about his favorite woods to work with on the lathe, and we discuss various tools used when turning, including scroll chucks, traditional turning tools and turning tools that have interchangeable cutters.
Join 360 Woodworking every Thursday for a lively discussion on everything from tools to techniques to wood selection (and more). Glen talks with various guests about all things woodworking and some things that are slightly off topic.
I am a woodworker, and as a woodworker I live by a certain set of norms which dictate that I be accurate, but not ridiculously accurate. After all, wood changes size all of the time, so there is a limit to how accurate we can be and how much we should really worry about it. For most of us, a few measurements in a job are critical and the rest of the pieces are fit to look good. We may use measurements as a jumping off point, but it isn’t uncommon to trim a bit here and plane a bit there.
When I am in the shop, I always have a tape measure hanging off of my pocket for anything that needs to be measured. I use it a lot, but mostly for rough measurements, like making sure a piece of wood will be big enough for what I have in mind. I also use it for more critical measurements, but I try my best to find ways to not use measurements when things start to get critical. For example, instead of measuring, I will use a scrap piece of wood as a spacer. That way I don’t need to worry every time about reading the tape measure wrong, and I know that all of my spacing will be very consistent.
As much as I try to avoid being fussy about my measurements, sometimes they need to be a little more accurate. One of the tools where accuracy is important is the planer. If I want 1″ thick wood, I want to know that it is 1″. Now, more engineery people might reach for their calipers, but for those of you like me, with only a tape measures on your belt, I have a very accurate way to make perfectly sized parts – just stack them up.
Here’s the logic. If your measurements are just slightly off, you may not notice it in just one piece, but as you add up the pieces you also add up the differences and they become much more obvious. Just run a scrap piece of wood through the planer, chop it into 3, 4 or 5 pieces, stack them up and measure them. 5 pieces of wood that are 1″ thick should measure 5″ – simple de dimple. If your 1″ thick board isn’t exactly 1″ thick, you will see it, even without calipers, and then you can adjust the thickness.
The beauty of this system is two-fold. First off, you don’t need to worry about having calipers (after all, those are for kids that work at Boeing and have really clean floors). Second, it gives you a more accurate real-world reading of what is coming out of your machine. We all know that a board coming out of the planer has dips and doodles in the wood and can range in thickness depending on the spot that you measure. Adding up several pieces of wood gives you not only a measurement that is accurate, but it is also closer to the average. We are only talking small amounts here, but if you are setting up to plane a bunch of lumber, it is great to know what the bulk of it is going to measure.
I use this system to double-check measurements on other tools as well. It works great on the table saw to make sure that your 3″ wide board is really 3″. Instead of cutting just one sample board 3″ wide and determining that it looks really close, cut 3 or more and add them up. Assuming that you can do a little simple math, you will be able to tell if the 3″ mark is consistently spitting out 3″ boards and not 2-63/64″ boards.
When using my fancy measuring shortcut, there is one important rule to follow. Make sure the tongue on your tape measure is accurate or don’t use the tongue at all. If you don’t trust the tongue on your tape measure then take a reading starting at the 1″ mark to check the distance and then just subtract 1″ from your reading (and then hope that a holiday is quickly approaching that might lend itself to the arrival of a new tape measure).
I find myself needing a lot of small circles for use on wooden toys. When I cut those disks out with a circle-cutting jig on the band saw, the edge is a little too rough, so I’ve made a fixture for the disk sander that makes quick work of sanding the wheels perfectly round and smooth. A ledger strip on the bottom plate of the fixture fits into the sander’s […]
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