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We had a heck of a time deciding on the Editors’ Choice winners – and the Grand Prize winner – in the 2017 PWM Excellence Awards. There was so much outstanding work from which to choose. But we had to pick…so here they are: The Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice winners in each of the five categories, led off by the stunning work of Al Spicer – recipient of the Grand […]
The post Congratulations to Al Spicer – Grand-Prize Winner, 2017 Excellence Awards appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.
|quiet time work - road testing Myles's block plane|
|even shavings from the right and left side|
|end grain - mostly dust|
|advanced the iron and better shavings - end grain test ok|
|this is what I wanted to do yesterday and today - I started these a few weeks ago|
|lost a side somewhere - I'll saw this one in half|
|epoxy set up on the doo-dad end caps|
|everything still fits|
|good fit and it is secure|
|flushed the ends and the tops|
|planed a chamfer on the side facing the interior of the box|
|about 1/2 way just in case I add a wooden auxiliary fence|
|enough room to take it out and put it back|
|pocket for the iron box|
|this will keep the box in place so it doesn't flop around in the box|
|a spacer to set the board for wiggle room|
|Stanley 71 parts out of the Evaporust, rinsed and blown dry|
|spear point iron|
|got some pitting where I don't want it|
|Wally World run|
|I use them and toss them|
|made glue sticks with the T77 spray adhesive|
|I sawed each one into thirds without ripping or shredding the sandpaper|
|the 1/2" iron has pitting too|
|80 grit runway - I tried to sand the pits out|
|got lucky and I was able to sand out all the pits|
|tried sanding this as is and it was way to difficult to do -very hard to hold and push at the same time|
|put it together and this way was much better|
|had the runway set up so I worked on the 71 base|
|120 grit after a couple of minutes work - dropped down to 80 grit and started over|
|completed with a sanding block with 400 and then 600 grit - raised a good shine|
|orange cleaner got some of the stains|
|tried WD-40 next - not sure if it did anything|
|this seemed to work - most of the stains are gone now|
|sharpened, honed, and stropped|
|Stanley 71 is done|
|test dado - sawed the walls and chiseled out most of the waste|
|works very well|
|done - I like the action and feel of this better than my LN router|
|brush box needs a latch|
|going to make one out of a brass mending plate|
|checked this one but it is too wide for 1/2" stock|
|sawed the notch and filed it smooth|
|no problems working the latch blind|
|metric drill caddy box glamour shot|
|8 out of 10 stayed home|
|I put this by the drill press|
|I need a box for Myles's Stanley #71|
|found a toolbox|
|french fitted for a lot of tools I don't know what, where, or how they fit now|
|bottom laid out for planes but no saws|
|I like that it has a lock|
|Myles's new toolbox|
|I can fit a lot more tools (saws too) in this one|
|the back - I think this was Chris S inspiration build|
|bottom has replaceable ship lapped boards nailed on|
|needs a till or maybe two|
|some tools for Myles besides the planes|
|made the box for Myles's #71|
|tried to make this one as small as possible|
|flushing the bottom - knocking this corner down is first|
|now the plane will turn the corner|
|bottom has no twist|
|top has no twist too|
|plow plane box (still no finish)|
What was the highest rated TV show of all time?
answer - the final episode of MASH in February of 1983
Recently, I got a question from a customer regarding a crack forming in his solid wood countertop. He built the top out of flat sawn white oak lumber and he wanted to figure out what caused the crack and hopefully, how he could repair it. Luckily, the repair is simple (just some glue and clamps), but he really needed to address the cause of the problem or the countertop would most likely crack again.
When he sent me photos of the crack, he also sent me photos of the how he attached it to the cabinets, which was very helpful. The vintage metal cabinets have a bracket in each corner with a hole just large enough for a screw, but not large enough to allow for any movement in the top. In this case, the wood was stuck in place and had no choice but to split when it shrunk in width.
I recommended to simply make the holes in the metal bracket bigger and to add a washer or use a large-headed screw to allow the top to move side to side while still being held down. The secret is to tighten the screws just enough to hold the top in place, but loose enough to allow it to move if the wood starts to pull.
This particular solution was pretty simple, but only because I have seen it many times before, and I knew what caused it. Without understanding how wood moves, the diagnosis wouldn’t be so apparent. Even though most people don’t worry about wood movement as much as I do, I always try to get them to understand the most basic premise, which is that wood moves more in width than it does in length, and you need to allow for that movement.
In woodworking in general, this disparity in movement is referred to as a “cross-grain situation”, when two pieces of wood come together with grain perpendicular to each other, then they want to pull in opposite directions. It happens all of the time in furniture construction, and it must be addressed to avoid catastrophic failures. In the example above, the setup was the same as a cross grain situation because the metal cabinet will not change in any dimension, while the wood moves in width.
When attaching wood tops of any kind, whether it be a wood countertop to a cabinet or a table top to a table base, you need to allow the top to move or it can split. The good news is that there is more than one way to attach a top and still make allowances for this movement.
The first and most common way, as mentioned earlier, is to make an oversized or elongated hole and to make up any differences with a washer or large-headed screw. Assume that any problems will be caused by excessive shrinkage and make sure that your holes are big enough and that your screws are placed in the holes so that the top has room to shrink.
Another method, which I like to use on tables, is to make blocks to fit into dados on the insides of the aprons. They don’t take too long to make and can easily be added wherever necessary. The blocks should be made so that tightening up the screws will just pull the top snug, like a perfect fitting tongue and groove joint and placed with a little separation to make sure nothing binds. They work great, and I think they look great too.
When attaching a top with a propensity to move, understand that all of your attachment points don’t have to have play in them. For example, you can firmly attach a countertop to the front of a cabinet as long as you allow the top to move in the back. Or, on table tops, you might choose to firmly attached the top in the middle of the width and allow the outside edges to move. This is perfectly acceptable and keeps the top centered on the base.
The main point to remember through all of this is to allow the wood to move. You can only really cause a problem if you don’t allow it to move. And remember , if you find that it is moving too much for your liking you can always go back and firm things up once you understand the potential problems.
For a more thorough description of wood movement click on these two earlier posts Have Your Heard About Shrinkage? or Why Quartersawn Lumber is so Stable: The 0-1-2 Rule In Action, to read a link on the subject. I think it is probably the most important subject for any woodworker to fully understand.
Last week I wrote about how you could use a simple jig setup to begin the steps to make a knuckle joint for a Pembroke table – same jig used to make box joints and moldings. After you have your knuckle joint constructed, what do you do your the “fly” rail to make it work? The rail should swing out to support your table leaf. And while not at work, it conceals the the fixed apron set behind it.
|Stanley block plane|
|another potential problem area|
|my 1/2" skew rabbet plane|
|owned by someone with an F|
|no problems making a cross grain rabbet|
|plane iron update|
|this one still feels like it is sharp|
|drill caddy bottom closed up|
|the epoxy has set|
|end caps epoxied and taped until tomorrow|
|my grandson's plane herd|
|the next batter|
|this was a PITA to get off|
|the brass is nice and shiny|
|worked the iron next|
|had to regrind the angle to 25°|
|hit a big hiccup here|
|an hour later|
|12" precision straight edge|
|my grandson's #71|
|no more burrs|
|had to use heat|
I meant to go to Pepin Lumber today but I forgot it. They have 1" thick x 12" wide pine, rough one side and smooth on the other, that I want to use for my grandson's toolbox. Maybe next week end I'll get it.
What is Hansen's disease?
answer - leprosy
|drilled a practice one first|
|fits the fence rods|
|clamped it to the doo-dad|
|everything fits with room to spare|
|I had to thin the holder for the plane|
|the doo-dads aren't quite done|
|using the good stuff|
|sized the ends|
|metric drill caddy box|
|it's almost 1700|
What was the only state (colony) not invaded by the British during the Revolutionary War?
answer - New Hampshire
24 hours has passed since I edge glued a test piece with Lee Valley’s Cod fish glue.
I must admit I was nervous that it would fail because I thinned it. I tried squeezing it in my vice and I think I may have buggered my vice, it’s now making some clicking sound. I changed the strategy and placed the panel flat in the vice and got some multi grips. Finally I managed to break it and it was no where near the glue line as you can see in the picture below. Also notice in the second picture that it’s virtually impossible to spot the glue line.
I think the results speak for itself. Fish glue is truly as good as any PVA on the market strength wise however, it does take a full 24 hours to fully cure and I don’t think that in truth is any different to any other PVA on the market.
I am also of the opinion that instrument makers who have not had much success with it either, used an inferior version or didn’t thin it and therefore the glue had lumps. Lumps will not allow a join to completely seat itself and also the glue won’t be absorbed by the timber.
I recently spent a great day with our friend Marie Pelletier up in Newbury, Massachusetts at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, aka Plum Island. She got great shots of many of the birds we saw… maybe this will take you to her shots – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213122359110858&set=pcb.10213122371511168&type=3&theater
It was not the best light for me, my camera shoots kinda dark. But here’s some of what I got that day:
Egrets were the bird of the day; both snowy (Egretta thula) and great (Ardea alba) – here’s one of the great egrets:
a bunch of the snowies:
They weren’t the only long-legged waders around though – we saw Great Blue Herons now and then (Ardea herodias)
A juvenile Northern Harrier – (Circus cyaneus )
The swallows were really the most impressive sight. Their numbers were out of this world. They’re “staging” – stopping here to feed and gather in huge flocks for migration. Many (most/all?) of these are tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) – there’s no way this photo or any photo captures the impact of seeing this many birds. they were in constant motion, and the sound of them hitting the water to feed on insects was LOUD.
I never skip a chance to watch cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) this one was very cooperative
A couple of days later, at Pret & Paula’s house, an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio). Too distant for my camera, but such a treat to see it poking out of this dead tree:
Then this morning, the flock of common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) with some other blackbirds mixed in, come streaming up from the marsh just around sunrise:
For us blokes going bald or are bald a simple towel will suffice, but they’re not just for drying hair.
We use them on wood too. Don’t let your wife or daughter catch you using her’s just buy a cheapy.
So what can they be used for?
If you’re using animal protein glues and you know your glue up is going to take a little longer than usual that ‘s where a hair dryer can be useful. Heat up the parts that need to be glued. The open time will be slightly longer and the adhesion will be better.
If you’re using Fish glue, the recommended clamping time is 12 hours. Once 12hrs has passed you sometimes notice the glue line feels a little tacky. That’s normal with fish glue as the exposed glue line hasn’t fully cured to a hard state. It’s still structurally sound, bonded and workable. Not much different to some PVA’s where you only need to clamp for 4 hours before you can begin working on it and the same rule applies to fish glue. It will still take 24 hrs before the glue has fully cured. However, to get rid of the tackiness a hair dryer works quickly. You only need to use it for less than minute to dry it.
I wouldn’t recommend using it to dry your finishes even though some people actually do.
In regards to yesterdays post on thinning fish glue. This morning I unclamped the test pieces. 12 hrs did pass and the glue line was tacky, so I used the hairdryer to dry it to the touch. The results are no gaps due to lumpiness, I thinned it to the right consistency, and the bond is super strong. I will let it sit for another 12 hrs to fully cure and then try to break the edge bond. I’ll use a clamp or stick it in my vice to break it apart. If it breaks along the glue line then it failed, but if it breaks anywhere else, then it’s a success.
This will be my final test with fish glue. I really don’t expect it to fail.
Hand Tool School Orientation is the Perfect Starting Point
The started The Hand Tool School more than 7 years ago. In that time I’ve learned a lot about how woodworkers learn. I’ve learned a lot about the concerns and questions they ask when first getting started with hand tools. And I’ve learned a lot about which tools are good to start with and which only confuse and hold back the skill development.
So about a year ago when I looked at my Semester 1 curriculum I realized I need to go back and create a prequel semester that hit on some fundamentals and did everything to get the woodworker over the analysis paralysis and building stuff. Stuff they really want and need for your new shop.
Like…a WORKBENCH!!! My god woodworkers just can’t get enough about workbenches so I gave in and built another one. But then I went on to build several more projects for the bench and for the new tool collection. I then developed a series of 101 style lessons to supplement all of this and what I came up with is the perfect entry point to hand tool woodworking. An orientation of sorts to a lifelong journey of plane shavings and chisel scars.
Welcome Hand Tool School Orientation.Check Out Hand Tool School Orientation
Here is a jointer plane for sale in Oz, it’s a steel at $100 because it’s in mint condition. I laughed at his reason for selling it ” because he has too many planes and he doesn’t use a jointer very often.” Really? Sounds like a machinist and has several smoothers.
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 ideas. Please 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.
I suppose you could say I have two sanding centers. One holds the oscillating spindle sander and, because it has drawers, stores all of the disks for various Festool Sanders, too. It may be too fancy for some folks’ taste, being made from “real wood.”
Mechanization is fine, as far as it goes. Sometimes, though, a job calls for hand sanding. Because we don’t want to be walking back and forth to our sandpaper supply, I made a sandpaper tote.
Our dear friends at the local Mexican restaurant saved some big steel cans for us. I spent about a million dollars (sorry, Steve) on Rust-OLeum rusty metal primer and Rust-OLeum flat black to coat the cans well before putting them to use. After all, they were going to be holding abrasives.
I attached the cans to a scrap piece of treated pine, and used the handle from an old Stihl string trimmer to complete the tote.
In the cans I put 1/3-sheet sanding blocks, scraps of sandpaper in Ziploc bags and a variety of other items that are used in sanding. Each can has a grit number assigned, with the appropriate Ziploc of scraps and a sanding block with that grit installed. The scraps all have their grit marked.
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 Making a Handy Sandpaper Tote – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – September 2017 – Tip #1 appeared first on Woodworking Blog.
Chairs at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld and Gerard van de Groenekan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Wegner, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nakashima, and Samuel Gragg.
Samuel Gragg’s chair was made in 1808. It was in no way the first bentwood chair ever made, but he did use some sort of patented technology to make it.
|another first for me|
|enough walnut for a hundred boxes|
|back is done|
|1645 and I'm finishing up the last plug|
|the plane body measures the same|
|slot for the fence|
|the planned spot for the fence|
I measured the rods and they are 5/16" diameter. Again I was expecting metric but I'm happy with the imperial. Tomorrow I'll make a drilling guide for the rods and make some practice holes before I drill the holes in the box doo-dad.
What is the longest running scripted TV show in the US?
answer - The Simpsons at 29 seasons (Gunsmoke and Law & Order both had 20 yrs)
This is going to be a very short post, but I want to share a finding with you. I purchased 1 litre bottle of fish glue from Lee Valley. The day it arrived was the day I put it to use. The glue’s consistency is very thick, and I tried it as is on two moulding planes I made. The results were poor. It’s not that it’s not doing its job, that part is fine. It held on strong and still holding strong, but it needs thinning prior to use. I knew that all along but since I’ve had previous success with it with their tiny bottled version I didn’t think it would make any difference, but I was wrong. Like any glue it should flow like maple syrup as they say, I’ve never actually seen maple syrup but I know what it should flow like as I use hide glue.
So, today I thinned it by eye, I can’t say exactly how many percentages you should thin it by, but it should flow off your brush or stick or whatever you’re using like maple syrup. Not too thick and not too thin.The results immediately showed a remarkable improvement. It flowed and spread easily with no lumps that caused the two pieces not to fully close. Another words not show any gaps. By adding water to any glue your taking away it’s strength, but to render it useless would be to add too much water.
Remember you have to add water to hide glue but only enough to take away the lumps. I’ve set the pieces aside to dry and will check it in the morning. It’s spring here, and it’s slowly warming up so I’ll see if it’s still holding strong in a weeks time. I don’t have any reason for it not too.
You may wonder why all the fuss with fish glue as I normally use hide glue. Well, to be honest it’s sheer laziness on my part. The part about preparing hide glue and heating it up, OK I have liquid hide glue as well and that too is a pain as I need to heat it up and keep it heated to 140° F (60°C). It’s easier to use liquid hide than regular hide because it’s open time is longer.
With fish glue you use it in it’s cold state just like regular glue and if I’m confident in it’s holding abilities like I am with hide glue, then I’ll make the switch. So far this glue hasn’t let me down but I need to use it for a while to be certain of all it’s pro’s and con’s.
Is all this fuss really necessary? White glue and yellow glue work fine.
I think the fuss is necessary if your building fine items that’s going to end up in some antique roadshow or shop in a hundred years time. I glue all my clocks with hide glue and furniture I built prior to clocks I used regular glue. None of it was reproduction antiques except for the hotel I built for.
You have to ask yourself. Are you building furniture that it recyclable or furniture that is exquisite and made to last?
In this modern age of consumerism, women mostly like to replace their furniture every 24 months and many would like to replace it every six months if they could afford it. So when you think about it; do you really think it’s going to end up in some antique shop or someone is going to bother themselves to repair it? No, it will end up at the city dump like most items.
Like I said earlier, unless your building something extraordinary like a secretary, highboy, fancy clocks or you do veneer work, all this unnecessary extra expenditure on glue pots and paying the ridiculously high costs of both fish and hide isn’t worth it. Rather invest your money into timber or a new tool or even some video or book where you will learn something that will benefit you in the long run than on these glues.
You know how much I love these glues and I won’t stop using them, but the truth is the truth and there’s no point in deluding yourselves to think otherwise.
The auction from the last post was not a great auction, there were no wonderous pieces of furniture. Many nice ones but nothing that jumped out and screamed “Take me to the Met.”
In the absence of greatness, I look for interesting details. Things done differently or things not typically done. I always wonder if these different approaches are naive or brilliant. Did they not know how things were done or not care how others did it. No clue or different inspiration
There were a few items that had a unique approach to curves. First up is this:
Chippendale Style Dressing Table
Description: 19th century, oak, shaped dish top, single serpentine drawer, cabriole legs with ball and claw feet.
Size: 29 x 30 x 18 in.
Condition: Restoration including the drawer being reworked, later glue blocks, break and repair to back right leg; insect damage; surface stains.
To start things off, the ball and claw feet are a bit different:
The drawer has been reworked?
The serpentine drawer front caught my eye:
A sawn serpentine drawer front is not unique. What is unique is how thin the drawer front gets:
I do like the bail pulls:
Next specimen is quite a bit taller:
William IV Mahogany Bookcase
Description:` 19th century, two-part form, mahogany, mahogany veneer, oak and pine secondary, applied cove molded cornice, two hinged glazed doors with original wavy glass open to two louvered shelves, over an ogee drawer, two paneled doors with flush base.
Size 94 x 43 x 18 in
Condition: No key; surface wear; top surface to base with looseness.
The only curved thing on it is the, as they call it, ogee drawer. Looking at is in profile you see:
It looks like it started life as a squared drawer to which bits have been added and removed:
Staring at it for a while, I think I might have figured out how they did it. It started out as a drawer with a square profile. The baseline looks like it was made by a marking gauge which would require a flat front. Moldings and fillets were attached and the drawer front was then given the ogee profile. The through dovetails were hidden behind a thick veneer on the concave surface.
The third curve is the first kidney-shaped server I’ve ever seen.
English Regency Concave Mahogany Server
Description: 19th century, mahogany, oak secondary, top with applied gallery, two drawers over two tambour doors, shelved interior, on flush base.
Size: 39 x 50 x 22 in.
Condition: Right tambour door with loose panels; surface scratches; shrinkage crack to top; other wear.
The tambour doors were a bit stiff. Now knowing how the non-existent Pottery Barn Rule (You break it, you bought it) applies at an auction, I wimped out and chose to use their picture to show it closed:
The joinery might be a bit coarse but it has lasted for 200 years:
Interesting way that the lower shelf boards installed on a bias:
Gila Eban, luthier, 1990
The last couple of days I have been leafing through the James Krenov trilogy, The Cabinetmaker's Notebook, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking and The Impractical Cabinetmaker. As a classical guitar maker, I really don't need these books anymore, as I have said before, I make guitars, not cabinets.
Squares, rectangles and triangles don't interest me, shapes that are based on the human body do.
I keep Mr. Krenov's books because of all the little bits of advice on how to enjoy life and to see the world around you that he hid and tucked away in paragraphs about dovetails, sharpening, woodworking education, etc.
I am not a big fan of his writing style, a little too verbose and perhaps too sentimental, so these days I scan the pages looking for words that are familiar and excite me like spokeshave, friend, and curved edges and then I read.
Yesterday, as I was thumbing through The Impractical Cabinetmaker, which I first read way back in 1992, I glanced at a paragraph at the end of "Woodcraft Today", and remembered that the last few lines in that paragraph gave me much hope and encouragement back in then, which I took very much to heart.
This is what Mr. Krenov wrote:
The only good advice worth offering is: Keep your goal in mind. Get some fine wood in little bits and pieces, but get it. Put it away to dry properly. Improve the heating in the shop. And all the while think about finding or making better tools. You'll need those fine tools to do that real work. So when the time comes and you get that chance you will be ready.
This then made me think that I should explore The Impractical Cabinetmaker chapter by chapter from the point of view of a guitar maker and post about it. I sallied forth and re-read the first three pages of that chapter because I wanted to read his definition of an "impractical" craftsman.
He is the craftsman for whom an atmosphere of much-to-sell is a hindrance to doing his best always--and living accordingly. He is an idealist who wants to survive to have the chance to work with wood, but not at the price of having woodworking become something less than he hoped it would be.
Hmm. I guess that makes me an impractical guitar maker.
I say I am an impractical guitar maker because I enjoy making guitars and then selling them to people who have been affected (look it up if you don't know what it means) by the sound and playability of my guitars. That is far more rewarding that doing market research to figure out how to tap into and make money from the latest fads of the classical guitar world.
The latest fad is the same it has been since I started studying the classical guitar in 1974, it is to buy the same guitar that the hottest classical guitarist de jour is playing. In the 1970's-80's you had to play a Ramirez No.1A guitar because Segovia, Parkening, Boyd and Niedt all played them. Today you need to play a "double top" guitar by Dammann, Price, Smallman, Connor or someone else who has succeeded in making a guitar sound like a piano, because current greats likes Russell and Barrueco, etc., all play double top guitars.
Perfect practice makes you a better player.
Owning a really good guitar that you love will make you practice more, but popular makers don't always necessarily make the best guitar for you.
The are no jigs or outside moulds in my shop to create "the perfect shape" of a classical guitar, which some makers insist upon to make them "competitive" in today's global classical guitar market. I use a solera, a dished out work board to hold the top and neck while I attach the sides and back. A solera lends itself to asymmetry, which as I have discovered helps give the guitar a voice, a great voice that affects the human psyche.
Does this make me a better guitar maker? Not using power tools or jigs or moulds?
Maybe it doesn't, but as Mr. Krenov said, keep your goal in mind.
My goal is beauty.
The beautiful sound of a guitar that carries throughout the cosmos.
This is an excerpt from “Grandpa’s Workshop” by Maurice Pommier.
The darkest corner of Pépère’s shop both fascinates and frightens me. It is full of spiderwebs and dust. It is there that Pépère keeps the tools he doesn’t use anymore.
It’s also the place he keeps the odds and ends of things he calls his “couldcomeinhandy’s.”
He says it would be a terrible idea to clean the corner, because the elves would be furious. Grandma says he should be ashamed it is such a mess, and that he could easily clean up that shambles. Pépère just chuckles.
Today I came in earlier than usual. I brought a flashlight to look through the jumble of things in the corner while Pépère had gone to break his bread. I discovered a big blue chest. When Pépère came back into the shop, I tugged on his sleeve and asked him what it was.
— It’s Pépé Clothaire’s tool chest, he said, tapping his finger on the chest.
— Tool Chest?!?
— Pépé Clothaire’s chest was handed down from his grandfather, and certainly from the grandfather of his grandfather!
Pépère wrinkles his nose a bit, and he tugs on his mustache.
— Wow! It must be incredibly old! Open it! Show me what is inside!
Pépère goes to the keyboard on the wall and picks up a little key among the many hanging on nails there, and he makes a little space around the chest. He turns on the light and with a broom sweeps the dust off the top of the chest. The key goes cric-crac in the lock.
When he opens the chest, Pépère’s eyes shine. He shows me the underside of the top where the big English saw had been stored. Then he pulls out the tools and arranges them on the floor of the shop, and he teaches me the names of them all:
— Wow, Pépère, they are a little rusty…
— Yes, and they are covered with dust that tickles your nose. You see, here are almost all of your Pépé Clothaire’s tools, all that he needed to build the roof structures of churches, of castles, and of houses. But there is one missing…Wait a second, I think that it is over here, it was too long to fit in the chest.
He wipes his nose and rummages around in the corner of the woodshop. He returns, peeling oily rags off a long, strange tool.
— Is is the besaiguë of Pépé Clothaire, Pépère tells me before I can ask him what it is. The ends of the tool are protected by leather sheaths. He takes them off to show me:
— On one end you have a big chisel, like a slick, and on the other a mortise chisel. To cut a mortise, the carpenter would drill a series of holes into a beam , and then use the besaiguë to finish the square hole in the wood. He also used it to shape the pegs used to pin the joints, and when he wanted to show off, he would even use it to sharpen his pencil!
Pépère shows me how he can use the besaiguë to shape a peg from a scrap of oak.
— Pépère, who did the besaiguë belong to, before Pépé Clothaire?
Pépère’s face falls a little, and he says he will tell me about that later. Because he needs to put the tools away, because he has some work to do, and he isn’t going to do it alone. I help him put Clothaire’s tools back away in the chest. Pépère takes the angel’s head and looks at it, frowning, and stuffs it down deep into the chest.
— Meghan Bates
Filed under: Grandpa's Workshop
As a professional teacher, I own a lot of dress slacks. Until recently, I had them hanging on a variety of different hangers, most of which sagged and left unsightly wrinkles on each leg. There are a lot of effective ways to hang up a pair of slacks without wrinkling them, but most good hangers are expensive and hog valuable space on the rack. My new pants hangers each cost approximately 75 cents took under five minutes to make.
Making them requires only a few simple woodworking tools and almost no skill. Here’s how I did it.
I began with some old wire hangers that came from the dry cleaner. Such hangers are easy to find. These are have a cardboard tube that each end of the wire sticks into.
I had most of my slacks hanging on hangers like these. They worked for a while, until the cardboard began to sag and finally break in the middle.
I had a lot of them.
You could use regular wire coat hangers for this project just as easily, but I had these ready to hand.
The first step is to use wire cutters to snip off the lower wire close to each end. I cut the wire about 3/4″ from each end, but the exact length isn’t critical.
I also clipped the wire at an angle so as to leave a sharp point. That will be very helpful later when it comes time to assemble these. Be careful, though, as cut wire IS very sharp.
The next step is to cut the new wooden rod to length. I used 1/2″ diameter poplar dowels from the home center. They’re often labeled “hardwood dowels,” and the wood often has a slightly green color. They should run you less than $2 apiece. I got mine for $1.69 each.
At the store, take some time selecting the straightest dowels you can find. To test straightness, just sight down the length of each dowel rod. If they look straight, they are straight enough. But if you don’t trust your eye, roll them on the floor. A bent dowel will wobble a lot. A straight one will roll pretty evenly.
Cut your dowels to 16 inches long. If you bought 48-inch dowels, you can get exactly three hangers out of each dowel with no waste! I cut them with a small hand saw and a bench hook–that’s the handy holding device pictured above. (See the end of this post for more details on making a bench hook.)
Next, drill a small hole into each end of the dowel. You can eyeball the approximate center. Go as straight as you can, but don’t sweat a crooked or off-center hole. The hanger will work fine even if your drilling is off a little bit.
I like to stand my stock up in a bench vise, but if you don’t have a vise, you can brace one end of the dowel on something solid, hold the dowel in your hand, and carefully drill the end. I braced mine onto my bench hook, and it worked great. Just don’t slip!
Poplar is a fairly soft wood, so use a smaller diameter drill bit than your hanger wire. I used a 1/16″ bit, but you could go one size bigger without trouble. The exact depth of the hole is not crucial. I just drilled to the depth of the drill bit’s flutes.
The dowels come from the store sanded smooth–which is great if you want them like that. However, I don’t like my slacks slipping off the hanger and onto the floor at the slightest touch–as they will if the rod is too slick. So I used a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to roughen the rods a little. I just swiped the sandpaper down the length of the rod once, turned it slightly, and did it again, until the whole rod was just a little coarse. Just remember to clean off any sawdust before you hang your slacks on these things.
While you’ve got the sandpaper in your hand, also sand off any ragged fibers that the saw left at each end.
Now it’s time to assemble your new hanger. With your fingers, press each cut end of the wire into the holes in each end of the dowel rod as far as you can.
If you feel they haven’t gone in far enough, a few taps on each end with a hammer will seat the wire firmly. If the wire doesn’t seem secure, you can always add a dab of strong glue, such as E6000 glue or even hot glue, to each hole. But that probably won’t be necessary.
And that’s all there is to it! Hang up your slacks on your new hanger.
I didn’t use any kind of stain or finish on the wood because (a) I didn’t want to wait for a finish to cure, and (b) I don’t want any smelly or sticky stuff on my clothes. These are going in my closet anyway, and I really don’t care what color they are.
I made up a dozen of these in under an hour. It’s probably the easiest woodworking project I’ve done in years–and I’ll use the hangers I made for years to come.
Bonus: The Bench Hook
I use my bench hook all the time. I actually have two of them, and for cutting up long stock it’s nice to have a pair. But for small stock, one works just fine all by itself.
A bench hook is simple to make, and almost as simple to use. Each one consists of three pieces of wood. The base is a wide-ish board 3/4″ thick. Mine is about 8″ wide and 12″ long, but exact dimensions aren’t critical. You could easily build this with smaller pieces–whatever you have on hand.
The other two pieces are they cleats. They are narrower bits of wood, almost as long as the base. They can be screwed, nailed, or glued to the base, as you see above. Mine are glued on. If you’re right-handed, the smaller piece should go almost to the right-hand end of the base but not quite. Leave between 1″ and 1/2″ of the base protruding past the cleats.
To use the bench hook, the lower cleat hooks over the top of a workbench or table. You hold your stock against the upper cleat with your off-hand, and you saw with your dominant hand. I have two sawing spots in this bench hook–one on the end and the other in the middle. The one in the middle is best for very small pieces that need to be supported on both sides of the saw. I use the spot on the end for everything else.
When one side of the bench hook gets too chewed up to use–which will take quite a long time–you can flip the whole bench hook over and use the other side. This essentially doubles the working life if the jig.
The saw I’m using is a cheap dovetail saw made by crown, which I think retails for about $25. But any normal, sharp saw with relatively small teeth can be used effectively on a bench hook. With practice, you can hold a workpiece firmly and saw a clean, straight line with ease–no clamping required.
If you do much craft work at all, I highly recommend investing the fifteen minutes it will take you to make one or two bench hooks.