Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Adirondack Chairs

Over the 4th of July I built us some Adirondack Chairs out of Cedar. I found the plans in a recent Fine Woodworking magazine that I used as a guide. Here are some pictures.

A picture of me test driving the chairs after a long day of making sawdust.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Flea Market Scores

This has been a full woodworking weekend as my wife is in Florida visiting her parents. Last week I heard from some fellow galoots that there was a flea market at Flat Rock Speedway this weekend. I have never actually gone to a flea market....I always read about amazing tool scores that individuals find so figured I would give it a try.

Check out the items I purchased above. Some of the items are a Miller Falls Yankee Screwdriver, a couple nice Stanley try squares, a Brown & Sharpe combination square and a nice Disston 77 marking gauge. The brace is a really nice one but I am not sure what kind it is. The two little hammers were virtually free and will be useful. I think I spent a total of $30 for all of the above items.

I also saw a real nice Bed Rock 4 1/2 plane for $65......I was shocked! I almost purchased it just to resell it. Then on the other spectrum I saw a rusted to hell Stanley 71 router plane. The guy said it was 75. I asked if that was 75 cents..... I don't think he appreciated it but the thing was in horrible shape.

Overall, it was a great experience and I can see how old tool hunting can be addictive. There were also many things I think my wife would of liked. Next time we both will have to make a trip of it and see what we can find.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Handcut Dovetail Success....Sorta

I am currently making a G&G table with the SEMIWW group and decided to deviate from the traditional G&G box joint drawer and attempt handcut dovetails. This is the first time that I will have actually used this in a real furniture project. I have been getting close to having them look somewhat respectable but have been missing a few things. I practiced prior to doing these and finally figured out a few tricks including making a mess.

First, being able to saw a straight line is critical. I do tails first and I just worry about cutting straight and square for the tails since they will be used to mark my pins. Once you have the saw kerf started, I found it best to keep the saw very loose in my hand so the kerf ends up acting like a guide for the saw. This worked great for cutting a straight line.

Next, I used to use a coping saw to cut out the waste but I find that I am always cutting into the side of a tail or pin. I decided to chop out instead and found that it did not take too much longer but left the tails and pins much nicer with fewer nicks left in the wood. I chopped in about half way on both sides until the waste popped out as follows.

I also used to cut the end waste for the tails. However, it seemed that I would never be square on the ends of the tail board. Instead, I decided to cut the end off but left some waste that I pared with the chisel. This worked much better at keeping the ends square.

Once the tails are chopped out and cleaned up comes the difficult part of marking the pins. This is one of the most critical steps in order to get tight fitting joints. I carefully lay the tail board over the pin board to mark the pins. Once lined up and both boards clamped down, I used a retractable razer blade to carefully cut a line tight to the tale. I did not mark the knife line with a pencil as I find it to be a great guide to saw tight to the knife line. I did mark pencil lines on the side of the board to use as a guide to cut straight.

Cutting the pins is where I had difficulties in the past. You hear from others that you should split the line or cut to the waste side or leave some waste and pare down......enough to get very confused. I have tried all and finally found that by marking the line from the tail with a knife (no pencil) and carefully starting the saw cut by cutting just to the waste side of the line so that the saw shaves through the line. This will remove the line but the saw kerf is thicker than the line so you want to be careful starting the cut to the waste side. Once the saw cut is started it is then easy to cut the rest.

Overall, I think the drawer came out good with a few mistakes that will give it character. It is by far the best set of dovetails I have done yet. It is also the first set of half blind dovetails for me. I actually found the half blind dovetails slightly easier than thru dovetails as you can pare back slightly in the "blind spots" to make them fit nicely. Here is a picture of the completed drawer.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chris Schwarz Handplane Class

This weekend I was able to take a class on Handplaning with Chris Schwarz which was the best $100 I have spent in a long time. We covered the basics from sharpening to squaring and flattening lumber with a plane. In addition, he brought some amazing planes that we were able to put our hands on. Many of the items I have taught myself through reading books, magazines and forums but have not been able to perfect or get over the hump. The class was really beneficial to have an expert like Chris show the little tricks or items I was not seeing prior to the class. Not to mention that he is a great person and teacher.

We spent most of the day flattening and squaring a piece of lumber after we learned to sharpen and set up the plane. This was helpful as I have done this in the past but needed some clarification on the approach and what to look for. However, the one item I gained the most from was in the morning when we covered sharpening.

I have struggled with sharpening since I started woodworking and acquiring hand tools. I have read numerous articles on this topic and tried just about every method. I have come a long way with my sharpening skills but he gave me the final polish I have needed to be able to do it quickly and effectively.

The first item that was a huge help was using David Charlsworth ruler trick to flatten the back of the blade. Of course, I have read about this method but never gave it a try. Using your sharpening method, i.e. waterstones, you place a small thin metal ruler on the long edge of the stone to lift the blade a very small amount when you sharpen. You then place the blade onto the ruler with the sharpening edge at the opposite edge that the ruler is on. This will give a very small back bevel and focus on the end of the blade where you want to flatten. It only takes 6 to 12 passes on each stone to get a 1/8" to 1/4" flattened spot at the blade tip. Works great.

The second item that I have had a challenge with is putting a camber on my blades. I am not sure why I have had this problem after Chris explained it as it is a very methodical approach...and that is my entire brain. He uses a simple $10 honing guide and breaks down his blade into 5 different pressure zones as shown below on my personalized Sketchup software.

He will sharpen with pressure on each zone and form the camber by the number of strokes. He uses six strokes on zones 1 and 5, three strokes on zones 2 and 4, and finally one stroke on zone 3. If you want more of a camber then do more strokes on the outside zones. He will do this through all of the stone grits. Pretty simple....not sure why the camber scared me so much.

The final touch is to go back to the ruler trick and give the back of the blade one or two good strokes on the stone to remove the burr. I was amazed as I was able to fully tune up three blades in about 30 minutes. It greatly improved and quickened the process so I can be doing more woodworking and less sharpening...which I hate.

At the end of the day we ended up learning many great skills and went home with a shooting board. He is also doing a handsawing class which sounds like it is going to be a great class. I really wish I had signed up for both. Next time I will certainly sign up for that class as I would like to learn more about handsawing.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bow Saw

Above is a bow saw I made this weekend with the kit from here. I had purchased these parts awhile back but never got around to making it. The saw is made out of hard maple with the toggle being out of cherry. The finish is Watco Danish Oil with a couple of coats of Shellac. The handles were the biggest challenge as I do not have a lathe so they were formed with the bandsaw and files. Hence, they are not perfectly round.

This will be functional as a coping saw. I will probably use it the most when I attempt handcut dovetails to cut the waste out. Regardless, it was fun to make and will be nice to have around the shop.

I also ordered the kit for a spokeshave from Lee Valley. I will hopefully be making this in the next few weekends. Although, next weekend will be very busy as I am taking a handplane class at Woodcraft with Chris Schwarz, the editor of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine. I have learned a lot already from reading his articles. It will be very exciting to meet him in person and learn some new skills.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Garage Cleaning and a few things

We are starting to do more workouts at home so I have been wanting to make plyo boxes. Some of the workouts we do incorporate them for jumping on. They are fairly simple to make and Home Depot had Birch Plywood on sale for $25. I bought two sheets and was able to make 3 boxes. Not the best plywood but it will work. I made a 20" tall one that can be used in conjunction with my saw bench and two 24" tall boxes. The taller ones will also be handy with woodworking as I can use them for assembling projects.

One tool that would be nice to have some day after cutting all of this plywood is a Festool saw with the shop vac attachment. Fairly pricey so that will have to wait. Here is a picture of the boxes stacked in the corner.

I also rearranged the garage and had a table sitting were the plyo boxes are above. The table was original made to be an outfeed table for the table saw but it never happened. I finally was able to get it set up to work which I think is going to be very nice. Here is a picture of the new setup.

The final item I made this weekend were two push sticks which I have needed. I had a poorly made one before that did not work that well. These I spent some time on forming with the bandsaw and a file. I also put a coat of Watco Danish Oil on them.

I spent the rest of the time cleaning and getting the garage better organized. I also completed the drawer in the cabinet which was nice to get that completed. Overall, it was a very busy weekend.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I read about this sawbench a few months ago and wanted to make one for the shop. It would be very helpful for various tasks that I can do with the handsaw vs. pulling out the big heavy miter saw. I can also use it as a stool for my tall cabinets or for chiseling pieces of wood.

Also, my wife wanted me to make plyo boxes for when we workout at home and this can function in that capacity also. Although, I think I will make an actual plyo box and then can use the two of them for assembling projects.

I did not sand it or clean up the wood so please ignore the glue drip on the leg.

Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Coffee Table for a Friend

A close friend of my wife is going through a split up with her significant other and has a 10 month old baby and no furniture. She recently moved into an apartment but has little furniture. I hate to see anyone going through this so I offered to make her a coffee table to help out during this difficult time.

I made it out of 2x4's and 2x10's from the depot and cost about $25 total. I just glued up the 2x4 to make the legs thicker. Did M&T for the apron's and glued up 3 2x10's cut down for the top. Finish is Amber Shellac and paste wax as I had some sitting around. Here are a couple of pictures before I deliver it.

Thanks for looking

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Projects and more Projects

I have not posted in a bit as I have been busy making sawdust. I have a number of projects currently brewing in my garage shop.

First, the local woodworking group has set up three groups to make end tables. Our group is making a Greene & Greene style table...very cool. One of the members of my group was very nice to sell some cherry wood so that we can each make our own table. I have the pieces cut but no pictures yet.

Second, I am making a saw bench which is a handy tool in the shop. It is a small low bench that helps with using a handsaw (the kind with no electric cord), chiseling and a number of other items.

Third, our friendly lumber provider, Oakie, had a bunch of hard maple billets (2 5/8" x 1 1/2" x 8 ft) and the oak was finished drying. So last weekend I picked up more wood. The billets I will use for bench's, cutting boards and other items. The white oak may be used for book cases. It is quarter sawn and flat sawn showing off some beautiful grain.

I will try and post some pictures soon. I just have been very busy lately with work.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Completed Side Table

I finished the table today. I decided to change the finish slightly as I found this article in Fine Woodworking. I did not follow the article exactly but used it as a guideline. After the one coat of BLO mixture I did a coat of clear Shellac and Paste Wax. The article used amber Shellac but I decided to use clear as it will show the maple figure much better.

There were a number of mistakes along the way but overall I was able to hide most of them and learned a great deal. Here are a few pictures of the finished product.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Finishing the Finish

Finally the table is glued up and I am at the dreaded stage for most woodworkers which is what finish to apply. There are many choices between using oil (tung, linseed), varnish, lacquer, shellac and on we go. Part of the difficulty with finishing is that I can conceptually see how things are built....the reason I like woodworking. But when it comes to finishes which is chemical reactions...I loose all understanding. Maybe why I did not do well in Chemistry.

I did a number of sample pieces of wood which I could not really tell a difference on. I tried clear and amber Shellac and for some reason did not like the Shellac. Many woodworkers seem to rave about Shellac being the next best things since sliced bread but I did not get too excited. I also tried boiled linseed oil(BLO) directly and mixed with mineral spirits 50/50. That looked fairly good. I also tried Watco Danish Oil which is a wiping varnish that also looked good. To be honest, I really could not tell much of a difference.

My wife liked the BLO with no mixture so I decided to do an approximate 70/30 mixture of BLO and Mineral Spirits. She liked the darker color even though I believe it is going to darken up over time with the BLO. I have put one coat on so far and will probably add another couple of coats and give it a final rub down with paste wax.

This is my first piece of furniture that I have made that will actually be inside our home. It is very exciting to see it coming to a completion. Here is a picture of the first coat on our kitchen table (the garage is too cold to finish in). I have to say I have a great wife to let me use the kitchen table as a finishing table.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

A Busy Sunday

Cutting the Tenons
The next step was to cut the tenons. There are many ways to do this this. I decided to take a scrap piece and use the table saw to determine how much waste to remove. I do not have a tenon jig so I determine the correct height of the blade and made several cuts to remove all of the waste. This worked well but did create a lot of dust which always gets to me. I might use a different method in the future due to the dust.

Once they were cut on the table saw, I then had to clean them up. I started with using my block and shoulder plane to clean them up. One issue I noticed is that I was taking off more wood on the side closest to me and I had a little bit of tear out on the ends. After a couple of tenons I then decided to use my chisel to pare in from the end. This worked much better. I also had to clean up the mortises slightly but was able to get them all to fit. Some are not as pretty as others but it will work.

Here is a picture of me cleaning up one of the tenons.

Cutting the Table Round
After the tenons were complete I decided to cut out the table top as I had the half inch blade already installed on the band saw. To do this I had to make a jig. Luckily, I had a scrap piece of plywood and a runner that fit perfectly in the miter slot.

I first measured out the narrowest part of the top and then found the center point. I then measured the same distance from an opposite edge and crossed the lines to drill a pilot hole on the back side of the table. This hole will ride in a dowel attach to the jig.

To make the jig I measured the distance of the miter slot from the blade and attached the runner with a couple of wood screws. I then marked the distance for the center point and drilled a hole and attached a dowel.

Here is a picture of the jig.

I then placed the top onto the jig, turned on the band saw and spun it around for a perfect circle. My wife came out to the shop to hang out and took the following pictures. Otherwise, I would never be in the picture.

Lower Stretcher Profile and Half Lap
To complete the lower stretchers I had to cut the half laps and profile. The half laps I did on the table saw marking the distance and depth. This was not too difficult.

To complete the profile I had to change the band saw blade to a 3/8" blade and I made some practice cuts. I then made the cut and used the fence once I did one profile to cut a straight line to the next profile. I also attached the both stretchers with two sided sticky tape and cut them at the same time.

The profile came out ok but did need some clean up. I used a bastard file along with the waste pieces and a hand made sanding block to clean them up.

Upper Stretcher
The final step was to cut the dovetails for the upper stretchers. I first cut the tails on the stretcher by marking them and cutting a small line in from the side. I then found it easiest to use my chisel to pare down the tail rather than cutting it.

Once complete, I marked them on the legs and number each one. I then used my hand saw to cut the lines and the drill press to remove most of the waste. I then had to use my chisel's to clean up the rest.

Once again, the first couple did not come out as good as the last two. Luckily these are hidden from view as they are not the prettiest.

Here is the table stand ready for the tenon pins, glueing and sanding.

And how it will look with the top (Not attached yet)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Legs and Mortises

Today I completed the legs and cut the mortises for the table. The legs are 1.5 inches square so I had to glue up two pieces of soft maple to obtain the correct thinkness. Everything glued up well except for one leg shown below. This had a seem that was visible so I cut a thin piece off one side and face glued it over the seem. I then planed the edges down even.

Once that was complete, I used the power planer to plane down all four sides of each leg the same thinkness, hand scraped off the planer marks and cut them to length. Here are the legs completed and ready for the mortises.

I then determined which sides of each leg I would want facing out from the table. Once figured out, I marked the mortises with a T&M marking gauge and used my marking knife to cut a line to be used as a guide for my chisel.

Once marked, I made a small jig for drilling out the holes. I used a 1/4 inch forstner bit so I could pare down to the line. Also, I marked a line on the jig of where to start drilling and clamped a stop block. I need to make a drill table at some point that would also be an outfeed table for the band saw but this will suffice for now. Add it to the to do list.

Here are the legs drilled out and ready to be cleaned up with the chisel. This is the first time I have done Mortises. The first one came out ok but I did get much better as I progressed. One tip is to place the chisel on the marked line and when hammering down on the chisel to pry the chisel away from the line. This way you make a nice square mortise without compressing the edge. Overall I think they came out ok for a first time.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to complete the lower and upper stretchers and cut the top into a circle. We are getting close to be completed. The mortises took much longer to do than I had anticipated.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Argh....Tear Out

I had spent some time trying to find three boards that would look good for the top. Unfortunately, when I started flattening the boards I realized there was so much twist in the middle board that I would have to remove a considerable amount of material. My choices were to either rip down the center of the middle board resulting in five boards of odd shapes or to select a new board. There were not many boards that match up but i did find one that will work.

Once the boards were flattened and edged on the jointer and planer I then looked to see how they fit together. They were slightly off so I cleaned them up with my jack plane leaving a very smooth surface and they fit together great. I then glued them up.

The problem came when I went to clean up the top. The boards were slightly off so I grabbed the jack plane and planed the top so the glued edges were smooth and removed all of the benchtop planer marks. Unfortunately, I ended up with some tearout in a couple of spots....Ugh. The tear out seemed fairly deep so I asked a couple of forums on what to do. I received great advice and ended up tuning up my card scraper that was sitting in the bottom of a bunch of tools. The thing worked great at removing almost all of the tear out and any scratches or ripples. Here is a picture of the top. I still need to make a jig for the bandsaw to cut the top into a circle.

My next step after completing the top is to clean up the legs of the table. Once that is complete I will cut the mortise and tenons and half laps in the lower stretcher, cut the arch in the lower strecher and do the dovetails in the upper stretcher. Still a lot to do but I was able to make great progress over the last two days.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Arts & Crafts Side Table

I am currently building my first real piece of furniture for the house. I came across this side table that would make a great plant stand for my wife.

It is a really cool project as it incorporates a fair amount of hand tools as well as machinery. There are a number of first for me on this project such as dimensioning rough sawn lumber, dovetailed upper strechers (that are luckily hidden for any mistakes), through tenons, arched bottom stretcher, round table and on and on.

Below is a picture of the pieces I selected for this project. I marked out each piece allowing an inch or two for waist.

I then cut the boards down to make them much easier to joint and plane.

Finally, I used the jointer and planer to flatten the lumber and square the edges. It was exciting to see the what was hidden below all of the saw marks when it was surfaced. I also used my jack plane to smooth out the surfaces and give a final edge on the top for glueing

I will post more as I make more progress. So far everything is going great. It is also really nice to finally have most of the tools required for woodworking. It makes life much easier and the hobby much more enjoyable.