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Product Video: Tool-less Blade Guide Upgrade Kit for Rikon Bandsaws

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 7:00am

If you have a Rikon 10-324 or 10-325 14″ Bandsaw, and are sick of all of those hex wrenches, you need the Tool-less Blade Guide Upgrade Kit. Install this kit on your bandsaw in minutes and enjoy the simplicity of tool-less spring-loaded guides.

Find out more about the Tool-less Blade Guide Upgrade Kit in this 12 minute video.

The post Product Video: Tool-less Blade Guide Upgrade Kit for Rikon Bandsaws appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Woodturning Project: Turning Offset Candelabras

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 7:00am

In the April issue of The Highland Woodturner, we are featuring Ray Bissonette, a favorite contributor from past issues.

After having his turnings featured in the June 2013 issue of The Highland Woodturner, Ray Bissonette used his earned store credit toward a new Spindle Gouge, which helped him add a new design element to his already “eccentric” woodturned candelabras.

CLICK HERE to see how he made them

The post Woodturning Project: Turning Offset Candelabras appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Show Us Your Shop: 6 Shops from the Recent Archives

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 7:00am

Over the last year, we have featured some dream shops in Wood News. We recently collected a few from the archives, including Randy Cordle’s ‘minimalist shop’, Derik VanVleet’s ‘King in his Castle’ shop and more.

Take a look at these workshops for ideas and inspiration, or just for fun.

And to read about even more shops, click to check out our Shops Gallery.

If you would like to submit your shop, just SEND US PHOTOS of your woodworking shop along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodworking. (Email photos at 800 x 600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit redeemable towards merchandise if we show your shop in a future issue.

The post Show Us Your Shop: 6 Shops from the Recent Archives appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Shop made Sand Paper Tearing Jig

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 7:00am

Most folks will use 9″ x 11″ sandpaper sheets at some point in their sanding endeavors. And most of us typically will cut the sheets down in size to suit some particular sanding pad size, or to make a more appropriately sized piece of sandpaper for hand sanding.

Ways to tear sandpaper paper down in size range from the “fold a crisp crease”, then pull it apart like spreading continental plates method, to folding it over a sharp 90 degree table edge (like on a machine’s cast iron table) and yanking down to tear the sheet. There is also the “use your spouse’s fabric scissors” method to cut sandpaper and is definitely one way I can attest to that should be avoided. Sometimes these methods give a clean “cut” and other times the “tear” ends up being ragged, jagged and anything but straight.

Wise use of a consumable commodity like sandpaper can save money in the long run and the more your sheets can be cut nice and clean, at just the right size, the farther your sandpaper budget is stretched. To that end, take some scrape wood and an old hacksaw blade (or a new one if your budget allows) and make yourself a sandpaper sheet cutting jig for making straight & clean sheet tears, right on your mark, every time.

Sandpaper tearing jigWe used 1/2″ plywood and glued on some 3/4″ scrap at the bottom to give a 1/4″ high lip to be a reference fence. Chisel out a small mortise to “let-in” the blade to the fence, keeping the mortise depth about 1/16″ above the plywood. Square the hacksaw blade to the fence and use a washer under the blade at the top before you screw it down, leaving space between the plywood and the blade for easily sliding your sandpaper underneath the blade. We oriented the teeth on the blade so pulling up the paper goes “into” the rake of the teeth.

Size marks on sandpaper tearing jig

Using a fine line marker, draw witness lines at measured dimensions from the blade’s cutting edge for half a sheet and 1/3 a sheet, in both lengthwise and crosswise measurements. Add any other dimensions you use regularly when cutting sheet paper down to size.

Avoid doing what we did, don’t spray lacquer onto the Sharpie marks to “seal” them. The lacquer made the marks run like the makeup on a crying mime.

How to use the sand paper tearing jig
How to use the sand paper tearing jig

Now go tear up your sandpaper in highly predictable ways!

The post Shop made Sand Paper Tearing Jig appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Why Chip Carving?

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 9:16am

chip carvingChip carving has been around for hundreds of years, has been practiced by men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, and continues to grow in popularity around the world. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. Chip carving has a low startup cost, does not require any special artistic ability, can be done anywhere, and does not take a long time to learn and to achieve good results.

Getting started in chip carving does not necessitate a large investment. Many styles of carving require the need for a wide variety of assorted straight chisels, bent chisels, round nose chisels, gouges, v-tools, skews, parting tools, mallets, vises, carving benches, aprons, gloves, thumb guards, paints, and brushes. This expense can quickly add up to many thousands of dollars. Chip carving appeals to hobbyists/carvers/beginners with any size budget. Complete chip carving kits are economical and include everything needed to get started.

chip carving crossesMany people I interact with who see my chip carved items respond, “I could never do that. I’m not artistic.” The good news is that no artistic ability is needed to become a skilled chip carver. It is all about technique! While some chip carvers enjoy the design aspect of creating patterns, this is not a requirement. A lack of artistic ability is no excuse for anyone wanting to learn how to chip carve.

Chip carving is also ultra-portable! At home you can chip carve indoors, outdoors, on the porch, in the workshop, in the living room while relaxing with your family, in the family room in front of the fireplace, in the kitchen, and in your favorite chair in the den. Pack your knives and project in a bag and bring your project with you on your next camping trip, when you take a road trip, or as a nice way to spend some down time on vacation. All it takes is your set of knives, sharpening kit, and projects and you’re all set. An important reason why chip carving can be done anywhere is because it does not make a big mess. Of the various types of carving, chip carving is probably one of the cleanest because there are fewer chips created. I chip carve regularly on a chair in my family room and simply vacuum up the chips when I’m done. The clean up is quick and easy.

Another reason why chip carving is a great style of carving to learn is because it does not take a long time to learn how to produce nice carvings. Chip carving is really quite easy. If you practice good technique, use beginning patterns, and regularly practice the basic skills, good results can be obtained in a matter of months. When I teach chip carving classes, my beginning students are always impressed with the good results they are able to obtain in just their first day, often in the first hour or two! Most students will have that “Ahhh” moment when their first chip pops out. This is much different than other styles of carving that can take several years and require a natural artistic ability to attain proficiency. This is one of the advantages of chip carving that makes it appealing to so many.

Learning how to chip carve is not difficult. You will quickly find that chip carving is a very enjoyable pastime and rewarding hobby that eventually you will want to pass on to your friends and family.

Marty Leenhouts has 30 years of teaching experience and is the owner of MyChipCarving.com and EZcarving.com. His videos have 2.5+ million views and he is the author of Chip Carving Essentials: A Step-by- Step Guide to Successful Chip Carving.

The post Why Chip Carving? appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

April Woodworking Poll: What tools do you have that you wish you hadn’t bought?

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 7:00am

What tools do you have that you wish you hadn’t bought?

The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo,  says one is his Dremel tool.

I, on the other hand, use my Dremel tool and attachments all the time: cutoffs, buffing small items, engraving/signing my work, routing small areas with the burr, cleaning out knots to ready them for epoxy, the uses are endless.

Requiring no talent and almost no practice, a Dremel motor with a little round burr allows you to sign your work permanently.

A 4-inch or 9-inch grinder will cut off a nail in a hurry, flush or below the surface, if you don’t mind massive burning of the wood, but …

…a Dremel fitted with a cutoff wheel can cut a nail and never mar the surface.

My wife got this 75th Anniversary Dremel set for a birthday gift for me. As Hazel (Shirley Booth) would say, “It’s a doozie!” It also came with two grits of sanding drums, nylon and steel brushes, buffing wheels and compound, and a felt wheel. I added chainsaw sharpening stones, and they will put a super sharpening on a chain in nothing flat. It also features an adjustable speed.

For me, it would definitely be my jointer. I bought the little 6″ Delta because I thought it was sufficient. When Katrina took my first one, I bought another just like it. I really wish I’d stepped up to at least an 8″, possibly with a spiral cutterhead. Regret might be a term too strong, but I really would like to have a better jointer.

This Delta jointer does 90% of what I need it to do, but it’s definitely an entry-level unit.

Now, if someone wants to buy me this jointer, I promise I will never complain! It’s what dreams are made of.

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Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post April Woodworking Poll: What tools do you have that you wish you hadn’t bought? appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – April 2017 – Tip #2– Workshop Cleaning

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 7:58am

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

I got this little vacuum attachment, you guessed it, for free.

I picked up this discarded vacuum on my daily walk, intending to set up the cyclone on a bucket for use with a shop vacuum. I saw a project like that on YouTube.

This little attachment came with my free vacuum at no extra charge!

I’d never used one before, but, when our regular carpet attachment (borrowed from inside the house) wasn’t working, and I needed to clean a rug in the garage, I decided to give it a try on the end of our whole-house vacuum hose.

Man! I had no idea!

There is a similar attachment on our vacuum at work, and I’d noticed it only in passing.

For some time I’ve fretted over getting these pads clean. Not any more! The little beater-bar attachment doesn’t grab the rug like the full-size floor attachment does. The difference in the cleaned and uncleaned rugs is more dramatic than the photo depicts.

My new “rug routine” is to gather all of them into one place (on top of an old card table) and put the attachment on the end of my Shop-Vac’s Dust Deputy-filtered hose. Then, I can clean the rest of the workshop, floors and all, separately.

Decades ago, I got this card table for free from the roadside. I use it for all kinds of trashy jobs. I replaced the original cardboard top with some salvaged 3/8″ plywood. It’s stored, folded, with my collapsing sawhorses, within easy reach.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Tips from Sticks in the Mud – April 2017 – Tip #2– Workshop Cleaning appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tips from Sticks in the Mud – April 2017 – Tip #1 – Marking Pros and Cons

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 8:11am

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Recently, I was working on a little stool for an employee’s niece and it was a blast to make! To give it an extra sentimental connection, I chose 150-year-old pine salvaged from our clinic’s old baseboards. It was great material, except for the fact that its age makes it somewhat brittle.

I like the character of this ancient pine, but it has its challenges. However, the beautiful end products make the struggles worthwhile.

To give it plenty of stability (we didn’t want little Kessa taking a tumble!), I mortised the top to accept the legs.

When I make stools, I take the time to mortise all of the parts together for maximum strength. There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to children’s safety. Sometimes I use the stationary mortise chisel, but other times I use the router, followed by cleanup with a sharp chisel.

The two sides were not interchangeable, as the legs were not exactly the same thickness. Frequently, antique lumber isn’t uniform. There wasn’t enough difference for one’s eye to tell, but enough that the mortise fit wasn’t identical.

To keep myself straight, I put chalk marks on all the pieces through the milling process. I’ve seen chalk used by a lot of very talented and successful woodworkers, and it had to be easier to remove than pencil marks, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Chalk is cheap if you get it at the everything’s-a-dollar store. Four huge sticks of chalk and a holder for a buck. A cheapskate’s dream.

As the kids nowadays say, “How’s that working out for you?”

Not so great.

I managed to keep the top on the top and the center section in the middle. Additionally, the center puts its best face forward, which also establishes the front and rear of the stool.

Somehow, though, in the middle of gluing up, I managed to get the big leg in the small mortise, which wasn’t the end of the world because it fit, nothing split, and its mortise for the center section fit, too. But, when the little leg went into the bigger mortise, the slop was immediately evident.

And, the gap around the leg was evident. Not huge, mind you, but evident.

Like a Lego fort, the interlocking parts already installed and glued were too intimate to disassemble, so rearranging was out of the question at this point.

While there might be other projects where chalk is a viable marking option, I’m going with bits of blue shop tape next time.

As long as you’re sure it’s not going to fall off, there’s no down side to blue-tape marking. More robust than chalk and unlikely to be accidentally removed.

As Olive Oyl once said, “All’s well that ends in the well.” I think everyone is happy with this end product.

According to Steven Johnson’s study on adhesion and cohesion, we shouldn’t need to worry about residue interfering with finish after using painter’s tape, because its cohesion exceeds its adhesion. Of course, tape sticks better to smooth wood better than rough, so, it’s not going to be the universal marking answer. I’ll let you know how the tape works out.

And, I won’t be throwing my pencils away. Did you know that acetone is an excellent graphite remover?

  • Be generous when applying the acetone to a rag or paper towel.
  • Work quickly, because acetone evaporates rapidly.
  • Keep moving. By that, I mean, once you’ve removed some or all of a mark with a spot on your paper towel, don’t try to continue using the same spot. Apply more acetone to a clean area and begin again.
  • Remember, acetone is an organic solvent, and, thus, is subject to spontaneous combustion. Allow the vehicle to air-dry in an open area and/or immerse it in water in a plastic bag.
  • Some woodworkers report that mineral spirits are also effective at removing pencil marks.

    Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

The post Tips from Sticks in the Mud – April 2017 – Tip #1 – Marking Pros and Cons appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Follow Friday: Highland Woodworking Class Instructor, Jim Dillon

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 11:18am

Jim Dillon has been involved with Highland Woodworking for quite some time now as both a customer and a class instructor in the Highland Woodworking classroom, where he teaches monthly classes ranging from hand tool skills to building bookcases, and much more!

He became a full-time woodworker in 1998 after he taught writing, which stemmed from his college English degrees. When not teaching at Highland, you can find Jim as the resident cabinetmaker at Fernbank Science Center here in Atlanta.

Jim keeps up a regular blog, The Thousand-Dollar Shop, where he discusses his current projects, new tools, and how he accomplishes woodworking “on a less than infinite budget,” something I’m sure we all strive for.

If you’re in Atlanta anytime soon, sign-up for one of his classes! Below is his upcoming class schedule. All classes are held at Highland Woodworking.

Saturday, April 1st – Build a Tool Storage Box

Tuesday, April 18th – Wednesday, April 19th – Build a Bookcase

Sunday, May 7th – Using Hand Planes

Saturday, May 13th – Hand Cut Dovetails

Tuesday, May 16th – Hand Tool Sharpening

You can follow Jim on Twitter (@jimdillon6) and Instagram (@from_ogema), and make sure to check out his blog!

The post Follow Friday: Highland Woodworking Class Instructor, Jim Dillon appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Life After Sandpaper: A Guide to Sharpening and Using a Wood Scraper

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 7:00am

If there were a ten-dollar finishing tool that worked ten times faster than a sander, made almost no noise, worked on finishes between coats as well as on bare wood, and did the work of abrasives from 60 to 220 grit, you’d know about it, right?

Guess what? There really is such a device: its the humble wood scraper, of course.

Learn how to tune up and use your wood scraper to improve your finishing process with this helpful article from the Highland archives.

Click here to read

The post Life After Sandpaper: A Guide to Sharpening and Using a Wood Scraper appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

A Beginner’s Guide to Spray Finishing

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 7:00am

It can take just one or two successful tries at spray finishing to get why spraying is a great choice everywhere from the home shop to the industrial factory floor. Spray finishing is quite simply a fast, efficient and reliable way to lay down smooth, uniform coatings that adhere well, dry predictably, and require minimal further processing. It also turns out that spraying is easy to learn and not very hard to do well.

Take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Spray Finishing to learn more and then try it out yourself!

Click here to read

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Spray Finishing appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

The Highland Woodturner: Turning a Box

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 7:00am

In the March 2017 issue of The Highland Woodturner, Curtis Turner – yes, that is his real name – shows us how to turn a box with a lid.

A spalted tamarind blank floated around my shop for years waiting for the right project. Last month, it somehow made its way to the top of the stack, where it just happened to catch my eye. I could see a small lidded box hiding in the wood. I knew it was finally time to turn this blank.

Click here to follow along with Curtis and learn how to turn a box.

The post The Highland Woodturner: Turning a Box appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 4: The Tormek System

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 3, The Tormek System.

The final technique covered in class was the Tormek system, specifically we used the T-8. The slow speed wet grinder put a new edge on a worn-out tool while the leather wheel, with abrasive paste added, polished the tool. It can be fitted with a wide array of jigs for different shapes of blades from knives to scissors to chisels to axes. A plastic gauge that rests against the grinding stone sets the angle at which you are removing material. In class I watched the principles of the operation, then put them to good use while in Florida, putting a new edge on my kitchen knives (a couple of them older than me) that had probably never been sharpened in their entire culinary careers.

Even with a jig, the process demands a great deal of attention, especially with long knives or those that end in a curve. In this instance, the use of a Sharpie is vital. By coloring the cutting bevel black, you may see where and where you are not wasting material. Often areas near the heel or the tip are ground away unevenly, because so much depends on consistent movement of the blade across the stone. By paying attention to the markings, the sharpener may check for inconsistency along the edge.

The Tormek system allows you to grind either toward or away from the bevel, toward for most knives and away for small knives. I ground the knives toward the bevel with the universal tool rest set up horizontally, keeping one hand on the jig and the other on the handle, floating the blades back and forth, keeping the jig resting on the tool rest bar.

Due to the shape of the wheel, sharpening on a this surface creates a concave bevel, that is, a slightly hollow shape. This makes for a narrower sharpening edge, and faster sharpening times. Over time, the sharpening bevel gets bigger as the blade gets shorter from sharpening. When sharpening takes too long, it’s time to regrind.

Beyond a couple false starts involving a flying carving knife (no one was hurt) and a gouge I tried to put into the leather stropping wheel and the part where I ignored Jim’s advice to test a blade on the arm hairs instead of a thumb tip (I wasn’t sure I’d done that good a job. Spoiler–I had) this went off without a hitch. For once, my kitchen is equipped with a selection of sharp and useful knives, and vegetables and meat may be cut down efficiently without gratuitous sawing and strong-arming.

After experimenting (in a supervised environment and then free range) with a variety of methods, I am most satisfied with the Tormek system. Sandpaper, though easy to come by and easy to replace, is absolutely repulsive to me in a tactile sense and will destroy a manicure. Knowing where there are two Tormeks at my disposal certainly helps things, as I can re-grind worn down tools, then keep them sharp at home with a 1000/6000 wet stone.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 4: The Tormek System appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 3: Waterstones

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 2, Using Waterstones.

The next technique we practiced was with Japanese waterstones. Jim recommends Ian Kirby’s book Sharpening With Waterstones, which covers far more material than the title suggests. We began with 800 grit and worked up to 8000. A simple setup for waterstones Jim suggested was to make a wooden rack for the stone that will sit atop a 5-gallon bucket, so that the stone may be rinsed efficiently and the mess contained. In lieu of this in the classroom setting, after the initial soak, we wet ours constantly with a plastic squirt bottle and kept the stones on plastic sheeting.

The Japanese stone (specifically the 1000/6000 combination stone) is a great tool for touching up blades after using them, such as in the kitchen, before they can wear down far enough to warrant grinding a new edge.

Several weeks later, when I had the chance to visit the shop in Florida, I tried Dad’s DMT Duo-Sharp diamond stone. This one also had a plastic base and was reversible, with a grinding grit on one side and a polishing grit on the other (Dad’s is Fine/Extra-Fine). This I simply kept on the counter near the sink to rinse, then thoroughly dried the stone and base after use to protect the nickel from corrosion.

I found this technique to work very well, when I had the angle set by a guide. Without it, I managed to dull a kitchen knife significantly, simply by sharpening at the incorrect–or even an inconsistent–angle. This episode in the kitchen particularly emphasized the importance of careful setup and attention to detail in what risks being considered (by the uninitiated) the least vital of tasks. Meticulous preparation does indeed save you time down the road, as our buddy Young Thomas learned 178 years ago.

Check back tomorrow to read Amy’s thoughts about the last of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 3: Waterstones appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 7:00am

Amy Herschleb attend Jim Dillon’s Hand Tool Sharpening class at Highland and came away with a new appreciation of working with sharp tools. In this series she will go into thoughtful detail on the 3 methods of sharpening Jim Dillon taught. Today she covers Method 1, Sandpaper on Glass.

The first technique we learned was sandpaper on glass, the simplest and cheapest way to get started, though the most expensive method when used over time. The price of sandpaper eventually will exceed the short-term savings of a quick setup. We used wet-dry sandpaper (dry to minimize the mess in the workshop) beginning with 180 grit.

The first directive was to flatten the back of the blade. By drawing the blade at an angle in a single direction, a diagonal hatching is achieved. When the entire back is thus marked, we move on to 220 and change the angle of the blade so that the scratch marks now make a cross-hatching. When the back of the blade is entirely changed to this opposing diagonal, we move up a grade of sandpaper, and so on until we reached 2400 grit.

At 2400 we achieved a mirror-like surface, from which no further refinement was necessary. All that remained was to remove the burr left on the front of the blade by dragging the front of the edge, ever so lightly, against the sandpaper, then gently wiping the back on it. This technique, called “backing off”, prevents the edge from being crushed or otherwise deformed by being pushed against the burr, which is barely detectable.

For the beveled edge we tried two different honing guides: a side clamp honing guide and the Veritas MK II standard honing guide. These guides support the blade at a consistent angle against the sharpening medium and require a simple measurement to set up (side clamp) or have predetermined settings (Veritas). Chris Schwarz recommends sharpening everything to 35° in his blog, Jim Dillon 30°, and both have made a wooden gauge set to their angle of choice.

Check back next Monday to read Amy’s thoughts about the second of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

The post Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 2: Sandpaper on Glass appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Tool Sharpening for a Beginner, Part 1

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 7:00am

With the constant jokes circulating the woodworking workplace, there ought to be an award for who gets to be “the sharpest tool in the shed.” And as a newcomer to the field, until lately I would rank a non-starter.

I have been catching up on my reading, and being drawn to the attractively-bound volume, recently picked up The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, reissued and expanded by Lost Art Press. It contains not only the original 1839 text, but also an historical analysis of the techniques and tools, and then the process of building the three projects contained in the text by the apprentice cabinet maker “Young Thomas.” In one passage, the young apprentice is tasked with making a packing box, and finds the tools common to the apprentices to be in poor shape, befouled by shavings, edges dulled and dinged by nails, and the hone dry and hollowed. Instead of regrinding all three planes he needs, he is helped by his journeyman friend Robert, who lends him a hone to sharpen one plane and a second plane of his own to complete the commission. The protagonist immediately recognizes the necessity of beginning a task with tools prepared to do their job, rather than risking the outcome with poorly cared for tools.

I am not the person to teach you to sharpen. I am perhaps more an object lesson for the maxim “anyone may learn to sharpen,” just as Katy, age 8, is in Schwarz’s reworking of the Joiner and Cabinet Maker. Katy can sharpen, I can sharpen, you can sharpen.

Unlike Katy, I spend my childhood rigorously sheltered from the shop where straightforward carpentry and house-building occurred, and sharp objects in general. At the age of 13, my grandad gifted me a buck knife, I imagine, to the horror of my parents. But I grew up in the grip of that horror, and never did anything interesting with the knife, or anything else sharp, beyond slicing open my knuckle and never telling anyone (… oh).

And so I have carried on into adulthood. I never attempted nor considered it within the realm of possibility that I could sharpen until recently, when I took Jim Dillon’s sharpening class.

As I was not in the habit of bringing an assortment of tools to work every day, I chose a couple bench chisels from our workshop that needed a little TLC (tender loving care, not the 90s girl group. Though woodworking would definitely benefit from an infusion of feminist R&B).

Jim’s philosophy on sharpening grew out of taking classes with Drew Langsner at Country Workshops (or, we could say, was honed by). Langsner proved to be so particular in his sharpening that he would prepare all the tools himself before the class began, but when asked about the angle of a particular tool would answer, “oh… about 30 degrees.” Jim’s takeaway was that “sharpness is crucial, and the way you get there matters, but the precise angle (within a certain range) isn’t nearly important as the edge formed by two highly polished surfaces intersecting.”

In Jim’s class we covered three basic systems of sharpening, from low-tech to high-tech, on which I’ll elaborate: sandpaper, water stones, and the Tormek grinder. I had the opportunity to both learn about these in the classroom, and later, to try them out in the wild, unsupervised and at my own peril. The good news is everyone survived. The better news is that my forays into woodworking are safer and more effective because of learning this vital skill.

Check back tomorrow to read Amy’s thoughts about the first of the three basic systems of sharpening she learned.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the staff writer at Highland Woodworking. In 2015 she and her dad co-founded Coywolf Woodworks, their hobby shop in North Florida.

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Categories: General Woodworking

3 “Rules” To Joyous Woodworking and Life

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 7:00am

RULE 1 – Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I have heard this saying over and over throughout my life. It always made a kind of sense to me, but had never become real to me until I stitched it together with the next two “Rules” .

Not sweating the small stuff could be taken as a polar opposite to what constitutes craftsmanship. The taking of the time and the effort to “sweat the details”. This is NOT how I choose to use the phrase here. I insist that a craftsman deliver their own, best effort, at all times and in all their projects. No corner cutting.

Rather, by embracing rule 1, it sets the stage for a woodworker to free themselves from fear. What I mean here is that in woodworking, and in life too for that matter, Fear is often times the major stumbling block to those good and satisfying things we wish to have in our lives. Fear is a barrier to attaining what we want in our heart, to accomplish.

Fear of failing, fear of embarrassment, fear of not measuring up to our peers. There seems to be no end to the number of things that we as people, let alone craftspersons, can convince ourselves to be afraid of.

By adopting a philosophy of “not sweating the small stuff”, we open ourselves to possibility.

Sure, all those things we convince ourselves to be afraid of don’t just go away. The chance that we might fail or be embarrassed surely do exist and may indeed come to pass.

The difference is, if we adhere to these three rules, and do so with genuine and honest effort, we can reach a place of Madcap Nirvana. That is to say, we just don’t care if we fail, we just don’t care if we do something embarrassing. We embrace the failure, we embrace the embarrassment.

A key element of Madcap Nirvana is redefining failure or embarrassment or other negative, fear driven outcome, as an outcome other than what we initially had hoped for. In embracing the possibility of outcomes other than what we initially had hoped for, we open ourselves to what is, rather than what should be.

Taking this a step further, it is in the acceptance and willingness to embrace what is, over what should be, that we can find avenues of creativity and discovery that would otherwise have been unavailable to us were we to remain fixed in the focus of what should be. Learning to operate in acceptance of what is creates an environment that allows the artisan savor each moment in the creative process fearlessly.

RULE 2 – It’s ALL Small Stuff

It’s all small stuff, and I can prove it…If you woke this morning, were able to open your eyes, see the dawn, wiggle your toes, stretch, feel the sun on your face, smell the lilac, walk to the kitchen and make fresh coffee… those things, are BIG STUFF.

Everything, and I want to emphasize this, EVERYTHING else is small stuff. The rest of your day is icing on the cake. Just realizing that having the ability to do those things I mentioned above, is reason enough to take the rest of the day as something to be grateful for, enjoy, and hypothetically would make the rest of the day something of a vacation day.

That is in spite of having to go to a job we dislike, or having to interact with people that leave us with a bitter taste in our mouth. We are ALIVE, and…and this is another big one… we are alive and have the ability to go out to our shop and make shavings or make sawdust.

What an amazing gift that is!

So if those dovetail joints don’t fit just right, or that board is not as square as you had hoped it would be….so what? So what if it looks like a failure?

It isn’t.

It’s a demonstration of effort. It is a celebration of our ability to take advantage of having opposable thumbs. It’s an example of a creative soul attempting something different. That alone makes the attempt worthy and worth doing. Everything else, just as in the example above, is gravy.

RULE 3 – NEVER FORGET RULE 1 & 2

This rule sounds almost flippant, or as something said as a joke or tag line, but is actually the most important rule of the three.

I try every day to remember not to sweat the small stuff. I try every day to remember that it is ALL small stuff.

Am I successful? Sometimes yes…and…sometimes no…and that’s just fine.

Sometimes I forget that it is amazing that I woke up in the morning. Sometimes I forget to wiggle my toes. Sometimes I forget that each day is remarkable simply because I am alive to experience it. It’s natural. It is part of the human experience to live some days with less than monastic meditation and gratitude each and every moment.

However, on those days when I remember rules 1 and 2, I find that I enjoy, even the smallest victory, more vividly. I find that things seem to flow more smoothly. In those times when the inevitable mistakes are made, I try to remember to embrace them, and look for the lesson in them. Or look for the discovery in them. Or look for the creative method to manage, or even fix the mistake. If i’m faithful in this, I nearly always find what I am looking for.

Remembering these rules has absolutely changed the way I experience the world. I would be willing to wager that it may be a game changer for others as well.

I would say this though, take the three rules and make them uniquely your own. Don’t take my word for it. It is through the prism of an individual’s experience that these rules should be applied. Apply them to your own experience in a way that makes the “rules” yours.

Or not.

I submit them as an example of my own experience, and fodder for contemplation and consideration, not as gospel. It would be presumptuous of me to make the assumption that these three rules are universally applicable. They may very well not be. They are truth in my own experience of life, and it is my hope that they are in someone else’s as well.

John McBride is a professional woodwright, blogger, and writer, living and working joyfully and with abandon in Denver, Colorado.

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Categories: General Woodworking

Which Festool Track Saw is Right for You?

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 7:00am

In Issue #6 of Festool Heaven, Our Sticks In The Mud (SITM) tipster Jim Randolph and our Down To Earth Woodworker (DTEW) Steve Johnson got into a discussion over which is the best Festool Track Saw, the TS-55 or the TS-75. We’re not sure who won the argument, but they both scored some pretty good shots. We just hope they’re still friends after this!

So which Track Saw is better? Click here to see what Jim and Steve had to say about it!

 

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Categories: General Woodworking

Caliper Comparison: Fraction Dial vs. Digital

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 7:00am

 

In the March 2017 issue of Wood News, Jeff Fleisher changes up his normal review process and does a comparison review of two of our most popular selling calipers, the 6 inch Fractional Dial Caliper and the 6 inch Fractional Digital Caliper.
This will not be a typical review of each tool but rather a listing of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision when purchasing one, or both, of the calipers.

Click here to read more of Jeff’s article

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Categories: General Woodworking

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