Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas Present Progress

Yesterday I woke up early, had some coffee and went out to the shop.  I’d glued up the dovetailed sides for the Cherry Shaker candle box the night before and it was time to see if I could finish it off in spite the the various snafus along the way.

The biggest problem was gaps in the dovetails.  In one joint I cut the pins ON the transferred line instead of NEXT TO the line.  I guess I was curious about what would happen.  Note to self: This results in a loose fit with gaps everywhere, don’t do this!  I had a couple of localized gaps beyond that.  To deal with this I cut little wedges to tap into the gaps while I was gluing up.

After it’s all said and done, I think it came out OK.  Not perfect, but not embarrassing either.  My half-pins are too wide (the lid is slightly ajar here which makes the top half pins look even wider in the picture, I need to adjust the lid still).

Finished Candle Box

Finished Candle Box

I only have one coat of Tried & True on this so far, I’ll put another coat on tonight and maybe one more after that.  I’ll probably wax the inside, but I’m not going to oil it.  I should have used slightly smaller hinges too…

Inside

Inside

I really like the color of this piece of Cherry, and needless to say it’s a whole lot more pleasant to work with than the Doug Fir I used on the sharpening bench!

Back of the Box

Back of the Box

Finally, Kolya came out to the shop and made a candlestick for my parents for Christmas.  It’s Redwood Lace Burl.  It turns easily, but this piece was prone to tearing out.  I suggested the design, and I think he did a great job pulling it off.  It’s still dripping with finish in this picture while we wait for it to soak in.  It needs several more coats of finish, the wood is really soaking it up.  Kolya enjoys making stuff on the lathe, and usually take the opportunity to pilfer a root beer from the shop fridge.

Kolya's Handiwork

Kolya’s Handiwork

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Christmas Presents, and Santa’s Snafu

For some reason I’m not progressing very smoothly on the candle box.  I made a couple of mistakes on the dovetails, and I thought I had that process more or less under control.  I ended up cutting off the end where I undercut the shoulder and chipped out part of a tail.

Trimming the Mistakes

Trimming the Mistakes

Things went mostly better after that, but not as nicely as I’d like.  The test fit of the first pins I cut showed a gap in one spot.  Frustrating.

Transferring the First Pins

Transferring the First Pins

So I decided to take a break and clear my head.  Yesterday when I was dimensioning the stock for the box sides I had two 2″ wide off-cuts of Cherry for the scrap pile.  I had a piece of Walnut scrap and thought I’d glue them together to use in a lathe project some day.  “Some day” turned out to be today.

Scraps to be Glued Up

Scraps to be Glued Up

I cut the ends square, planed the edges to square up the blank and cut it in half to make two candlestick holders.

Ready to Rock and Roll

Ready to Rock and Roll

I turned it round, and then turned a simple tapered shape.  I’m not much of a turner, but I can do this kind of project and get good results.  I felt more in control rounding the stock up that in previous projects.

Round

Round

I marked the narrow part and just worked by eye.  A little sanding (80, 180, 220, 320, 400) and a coat of Tried & True and they are done.  Backup present ready to go.  Now I’ll go back and see if I can get the dovetailing on the candle box finished.

Finished

Finished

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Making Christmas Presents, First Present, First Post

OK, as I type this I’m realizing how very late I am getting started on presents.  Crud.

First present, a candle box for my mom.  The Grand Plan is the Kolya will make her a pair of candlestick holders, and I’ll make a box for candles.  Busy day ahead of me.

I got a start on dimensioning the stock last night, which went really well.  I started with an 10′ 6″ wide 4/4 Cherry board that has been laying in the shop for a year.  I had to pick some metal filings out and clean it with solvent as someone (probably several someones) had walked on it with greasy boots loaded with metal chips.  Sigh.

Raw Stock, After Cleaning

Raw Stock, After Cleaning

I was really careful to orient the grain so the base side was out, and the grain was contiguous all the way around the box.  I dutifully marked my little cabinet maker’s triangles on the top edges to maintain this orientation.

Each Blank is One Long Side and the Adjacent Short Side

Each Blank is One Long Side and the Adjacent Short Side

I was pretty happy up to this point.  After being so careful to dimension the boards and keep the grain oriented I had a brain spasm and cut the rebate to register the tails on the outside of the front inside the inside.  Strike one.  I just spaced out on checking my orientation.  Man, that was frustrating.  It doesn’t make this firewood, but it’s disappointing.

Stock for the Sides Prepared

Stock for the Sides Prepared

I started cutting the tails, and under-cut one of the half-pin shoulders too.  Strike two.  I should have stopped at dimensioning and taken a break I guess.  I’m heading out to the shop to see if I can salvage the work I’ve done so far.  I think it will be OK in the end, but hey…I’ve got another eight feet of Cherry left I guess.

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Starting a New Project

I need to make a few christmas presents, first off is a shaker candle box for my Mom.  I have a piece of Cherry that I plan to use for this.

I decided that that before I started cutting wood I’d sharpen all my tools.  I’ve made one of these boxes before so I had a pretty good idea which tools I’d be using.  I ended up sharpening most of my chisels, my marking knife, my jointer and my smoother.  I decided to add in my block plane and my LN 140 too.  I’m going to try creating a small rebate on the inside of the tails to  help with alignment.  The Sandvik chisels I’ve blogged about before.  They sharpen fairly easily, which is a good thing.  Maybe they will hold an edge better in Cherry than Fir.  The Japanese chisel is a dovetail chisel that I’ve had forever.  I have to sharpen it freehand as it doesn’t fit in any of my jigs, I need to get better at freehand sharpening…or get a jig that would work with it.

Tools to be Sharpened

Tools to be Sharpened

I laid out all of my current sharpening junk.  Shovels and rakes and implements of destruction.  And a woobie.

Sharpening Tools

Sharpening Tools

I only used the 220 stone on a couple of chisels that were in bade shape.  In general I shaped the bevel with eh 1,000 grit stone, then did the micro bevel on 4,000, 8,0000 and 16,000.  Using a jig I can get my my tools very sharp fairly quickly,  Honestly, I haven’t been satisfied with the results from my smoother yet (LN #4).  I d’ get a too-thick shaving (or none at all), and plane tracks.  I can get a whispyier shaving from my #8.  It’s better after sharpening it today, but I’m still getting tracks.  I checked for nicks in the plane body, and lightly cambered the blade.  More practice and experimentation.

I made a little fixture to set the chisel in the $9 honing jig I use for my chisels.  This gives me a 25 degree angle.  “Made” is a little bit of an overstatement, it’s obviously two scraps of pine glued together.  But it works just fine.

Setting the Chisel in the Jig

Setting the Chisel in the Jig

Once the primary bevel is set and I have a burr on the edge I shorten the stickout by 1/8″ (using a ruler as a spacer).  This raises the angle slightly so I  can add a micro bevel.

Setting the Length for the Micro Bevel

Setting the Length for the Micro Bevel

Overall I probably spent an hour and a half sharpening, but some of these tools needed a lot of attention.  I spent time improving the flatness of the backs on many of these tools, and a couple had badly nicked blades.

Ready to Do Damage

Ready to Do Damage

 

Giant Paring Chisel

Giant Paring Chisel

 

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The Joiner and Commuter

Guess what I’ve been listening to on my commute today?  “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker”, read by Roy Underhill, available from Lost Art Press.

The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, Read by Roy Underhill

The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, Read by Roy Underhill

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Sharpening Station – In Use!

I put the sharpening station into use tonight.

Last night I added a coat of “Dark Walnut Danish Oil” to take the pink cast out of the stain.  That helped.  Tonight I brushed on a coat of orange shellac and called it “good enough”.  I still plan to add a drawer, but I need to focus my efforts the next two weeks on making three Christmas presents and don’t have the time to figure out the drawer right now.

Mostly Finished Sharpening Bench

Mostly Finished Sharpening Bench

I had a few extra minutes, and I’ve been dying to try out my new Shapton sharpening stones.  For background, in the distant past I used a norton oilstone (freehand), which was pretty marginal (both the results and my skill at sharpening).  I used a norton 1000/8000 waterstone, which was better but it made a terrible mess.  And it dished out really fast.  Then I used 3M sharpening film, which produced a good edge for me, but ultimately I wasn’t happy with it.  I tried DMT diamond stoned, and they cut OK, but the 8,000 grit diamond stone was completely useless.  I could never get a polished edge with it.

I’ve read a lot of good stuff about the Shapton stones, and based on my initial experience with them I’m really pleased.

Ready to Sharpen

Ready to Sharpen

I sharpened the 1″ chisel I was using recently.  It had a “micro bevel” that had grown to about 1/3 of the bevel area, and had several nicks.  Normally I would have started on the 220 DMT stone to “grind” it back into shape.  It took about 40 strokes on the 1,000 grit Shapton to re-shape the bevel.  It would have taken about the same effort, or perhaps more, on the DMT.  Then I raised the angle in my $9 jig and did about 10 passes each on the 4,000, 8,000 and 16,000, then about 10 passes on the back on the 16,000 to remove the burr.  I probably need to spend some time improving the flatness of the back, but it’s pretty darn close to flat.  Just a tiny spot on one corner of the back where the polish doesn’t reach all the way to the edge.

I’m happy.  I’m going out to meet the family for dinner to celebrate.

Sharp!

Sharp!

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Sharpening Station – Almost Ready to Use!

I had a fairly productive weekend, and made great progress on the little workbench I’m making to be dedicated to sharpening.  This has been a good project, and I’m feeling loads more comfortable with dimensioning operations and mortise and tenon joints.  My saw cuts are more predictable and generally where I want them to be.  Making the big mortises wasn’t as clean as I’d like.  I bored out the waste with a Forstner bit, but the wood was so wet that it’s all stringy in the center so paring the walls of the mortise tended to rip big hunks out.  I’m definitely not not planning to work with wet wood any time soon!

Nice Cuts

OK Cuts

The first tenon fit was a little sloppy in the mortise, they got better with each successive try.  I was able to get decent fits around the shoulders so in the end my only problem was a few small gaps between the tenons and mortises, all due to slightly sloppy mortises.  I’ll wedge them when I do the glue up.

First Tenon

First Tenon

Kolya helped me with the base glue up – he was in a hurry to go get lunch and I wanted to get this in clamps before we left.  We painted everything with Titebond 3 and went out for sandwiches and errands.  Just a little squeeze out everywhere, which I cleaned up with a damp rag (knowing I’d be sanding).

Base Glued Up

Base Glued Up

I couldn’t resist a “glamor shot” with the granite countertop remnant test fit.  The base is very solid without any top stretchers, so I decided to forego them.  I’m going to use liquid nails construction adhesive to glue the granite to the base, which will provide as much additional strength/resistance to racking as I could want.  The base without the top (or clamps) is extremely rigid.

Test FIt of Top

Test Fit of Top

I sanded the base to 220 in preparation for finishing.

Base Sanded

Base Sanded

Kolya and I painted on a coat of Mahogany gel stain, and wiped it off.  It looks a bit pinkish in this picture, and perhaps I should have just oiled it because the stain makes the grain look pretty wonky.  I plan to put a dark clear over it (probably orange or garnet shellac) after a couple of coats of oil, so in the end it should be fairly dark overall.  That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it unless it’s attacked and beaten senseless by a rouge band of facts.  Check out Kolya’s “Lost Art Press” shirt – perfect, I hadn’t noticed that until now.

I expect it will take all week to build up coats of finish, maybe I’ll start on the drawer at the same time.

First Coat of Stain - Maybe Another?

First Coat of Stain – Maybe Another?

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Why I Hate My Chisels

I’ve decided I hate my chisels.  I know that’s a strong sentiment, I tell my 12 year old “hate is too strong, we don’t hate”.  In this case I think it’s warrented.

I’ve been working a lot of Douglass Fir for both my workbench and my “sharpening station”.  The wood for the sharpening station is green, fairly damp and splintery.  I was working on the stretcher tenons this morning, I knifed in the shoulder and wanted to deepen the scribe line and pare out a little wedge for a “first class saw cut”.  Here is the freshly sharpened chisel.  There are a few spots that look like a little nicks, but it’s actually tiny little curls of wood that it lifted when I set it down.  I checked it for smoothness with my thumbnail, and even shaved a spot on my arm (I gotta stop doing that, I’m betting a bald spot there.  It’s definitely shaving-sharp.

Sharp Chisel

Sharp Chisel

I went around the entire knife line, set the chisel in place and gave it a light tap, lift and repeat.  I’m going maybe 1/32″ of an inch deep total including the knife cut.  The shadow from the work light to the left makes the cut look deeper than it is.  I worked my way around two ends, for two tenons, gently.

Ready for a First Class Saw Cut

Ready for a First Class Saw Cut

After the first tenon end was done I could feel burs on the chisel.  Seriously?  Here it is after the second tenon was pared.  I think you can see the nicks and burs in the edge, it need to be sharpened again.  I asked Santa for a set of Lie-Nielsen chisels for Christmas.  I hope she was paying attention.

PS: I also strongly dislike the huge side edge, it’s about 1/8″ tall at the cutting edge.  What part of “bevel edge” don’t then understand.  If they held a sharp edge I’d re-grind the side bevels so that they didn’t dig in to the sides of my dovetails.  Oh well.

Dull Chisel

Dull Chisel

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Sharpening Station, It Never Ends

Actually, I’m getting pretty close to “done”.  I just keep chipping away at it, and making good progress.

I glued up the second end assembly this morning.  The tenons fit snugly, although there are a few small gaps.  I had a lot of problems with this wood chipping out.  I want to use some better quality wood on my next project (well, after the workbench).  My criteria are pretty low.  Dry would be nice.

Gluing Up Second Assembly

Gluing Up Second Assembly

While the second assembly was drying I started working on the stretchers (yay!).  Isn’t this a fine looking piece of wood?  I marked out my cuts with red pen on three sides.

4x6 Green Doug Fir

4×6 Green Doug Fir

I followed the same procedure as always, but I gues this time I got it right.  I started the cut at the far corner and slowly walked the kerf down the layout line, then followed the line down the front keeping the blade in the kerf I already established.  Once I was sawing at a 45 degree angle (and at the bottom of the board) I went to the other side and walked the cut down the other face.  Then I just finished off the cut through the traingular mound in the bottom.

All 3 cuts came out almost perfectly square, within 1/32″ in the worst spot.

Square Cuts On The Ends!

Square Cuts On The Ends!

Next I dimensioned these two parts.  It went pretty quickly, and it didn’t leave me gasping for breath.  Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.

Stretchers DImensioned

Stretchers Dimensioned

I laid out the tenons on one end of the stretchers and called it a day.  I’m solo-parent this weekend so duty calls.  Tomorrow I should be able to get the tenons cut on the stretchers and glue up the assembly.  I have to make some sort of top stretchers too, otherwise I think it’ll be prone to racking.  I don’t want a wobbly bench for sharpening, that sounds like a problem to avoid.

Done for the Day

Done for the Day

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Sharpening Station – Progress Update

I made some good progress on my sharpening workbench.  Of course today I also picked up a new Fine Wordworking magazine with an article on Sharpending by Denab Puchlaski. which poings out you only need two stones and a small board to hold them and a series of stops to set the iron length in your $9 sharpening gizmo.  “blah, blah, blah…I can’t hear what your saying, I’m busy working on my sharpening bench”

I got all of the bottom tenons cut and fit to their respective mortises.  I spent some time tweaking the shoulders of the tenons to try to get a “perfect” fit into the base.  I didn’t get a perfect fit, but I got an “OK” fit.  As the wood dries I’d bet it going to move around more.  That should be interesting.  I clamped all four legs together and laid out the shoulders for the top tenon and the stretcher mortises.

Ready to Lay Out the rest of the leg joinery

Ready to Lay Out the Rest of the Leg Joinery

I sawed, chiseled and planed (and “floated”) until all four top tenons fit into their mortises.  I had a few fitment problems, that were a result of layout problems that were a result of imperfect accuracy in dimensioning the stock.  Nothing terrible though.

Both Bases, Dry Assembled

Both Bases, Dry Assembled

After dry fitting both bases I disassembled one. and cut the mortises for the stretchers.  Then I took some very light cleanup passes on the faces that would be inaccessible after glue-up to remove fingerprints and the odd welt from the dead blow hammer.  I sanded these same faced to 220, including the decorations in the ends of the feet and top support.  I put a light coat of shellac on the end grain decorations as a sealer, and I’ll re-sand them to 320 before I put stain on this.

Finally, I was ready to glue up one end, it went easily enough.  I should be able to get the base completed this weekend.  I still have to dimension the 4″ x 6″ that I got for the stretchers, and of course bring the other end truss up to this same level.

First End Assembly Glued Up

First End Assembly Glued Up

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