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.