I don’t know about you, but every once in a while nothing seems to go right in the shop. Yesterday was one of those days.
It started off simply enough. My workbench project in on pause until the Stanley #8 I bought on ebay arrives. Hopefully today. I decided I “needed” that to flatten the faces of my timbers for the bench top the last little bit. I decided to do a simple project yesterday morning, to make a marking gauge after I saw a video on another blog.
Now when I say simple I mean simple for anyone with basic coordination and opposable thumbs. Yesterday I had basic stupidity and was all thumbs. I won’t bore you with the details of my misadventures, but I have to wonder what causes that?
Some days things go very smoothly in the shop. Most days I think. Then there are those days where nothing seems to go right. Often there is blood involved. Usually mine.
What causes that? Not enough sleep? Not enough coffee? Too much coffee (as if)? Biorhythms? I wish I knew and coud banish those evil spirits.
Things started off well enough, I sketched out what I wanted to make, and found a nice piece of scrap to use. Birdseye Maple left over from a table I made with power tools several years ago. A piece of a broken file from my junk box to use for the blade. This particular style of gauge uses a round pin that intersects the square hole at a slight angle to wedge the arm. The dowel has a small notch cut for clearance when it’s loose.
I ripped a length of the wood using my cheap big box pull saw, and planed it square. That went well, although Birdseye isn’t the most plane-friendly wood. The fact that my bench is loaded with the timbers for my new workbench, and the constant wiggling and swaying didn’t help. But I took it all in stride. I absolutely love the finish the plane leaves, sanding doesn’t improve this.
I cut our a 2″ x 3″ square, flattened two faces and trued three edges (knowing the the last edge would be rounded over later). I laid out the hole for the adjuster arm, drilled it and chopped out the waste carefully. I got a nice, even, non-wiggling fit. I was really happy. I’d never chopped a mortise by hand. I don’t even have mortise chisels. Back in my power tool days I had a hollow chisel mortiser. That made things easy, fast and accurate.
This is where things went downhill. I got the angle of the cross hole wrong and ruined then mortised piece. Dang. Taking a breath I thought I’d just re-make that part. To speed things up I thought I’d “cheat” and use my drill press to bore the starter hole for the mortise instead of my bit and brace. And of course I neglected to use a vise or clamp the part. It caught on the bit and whacked my thumb – opening a bloody gash. Stupid. Stooooopid. I know better, but got in a hurry.
After collecting myself I proceeded to chop out the mortise in the replacement piece. Unfortunately I was getting bloody drips on the part. And the mortise ended up too loose. So it wiggles.
S I G H.
Today I’l clean up my mess and make a fresh start on this project. The root problem is loosing focus – although I don’t know what causes that.