Monthly Archives: November 2014

Final Chevalet Plans for Download

I started in on making the remaining parts for the chevy yesterday, but not before I updated the plans one final time.  I modeled the missing wood parts and updated the plans to show all of the parts and dimensions necessary to build this tool.

A couple of points: I am not the creator of this tool or this design for this tool  I took the measurements from W. Patrick Edwards’ blueprints that I purchased from him.  I’ve paraphrased the design slightly to accommodate building it from two thicknesses of 8/4 stock, adding in my guess on the joinery where it isn’t shown on the blueprints.  I did this merely as an aid to myself to help building my own tool.  Second, the dimensions all assume you are buying Patrick’s hardware kit.  If you’re making your own hardware, these plans don’t have the hardware shown.  These drawings are meant to compliment the Patrick’s parts and plans.

If I get a good day in the shop today I can probably finish the fabrication work and maybe start rubbing in some finish.  I’m probably going to use a mix of equal parts poly, linseed oil and mineral spirits.  Just a couple of coats for protection, then I can get on with assembly and tuning.  I’d like to make something involving marquetry for a Christmas present, but I don’t know that I have the time.  I guess I’d better order some veneer — or a wood slicer blade for the bandsaw.  Shoot, I’ll need some supplies from ASFM too, ribbed kraft paper (there is a joke lurking there, I’m ignoring it), backer board and veneer tape.  Probably more blades too.

Final model, foot pedal and clamp mechanism in place.  In the real works there is a thin chain from the pivot arm to the top of the foot pedal

Final model, foot pedal and clamp mechanism in place. In the real works there is a thin chain from the pivot arm to the top of the foot pedal

View 2

View 2

View 3

View 3

Click to download

Click to download

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Chevy Backseat

I had a good time in the shop yesterday, things seemed to be moving along smoothing.  Over the course of four or five hours I wrapped up all of the joinery for the seat assembly and a lot of the prep work for finishing on all of the parts.

I started the day by gluing up and waxing the handle of the marking knife I started on Thanksgiving.  It feels good in my hand, and I’m going to make a few more to give as gifts to a few friends for Christmas.  The construction on this knife follows the approach written up by David Barron in his article in F&C I posted yesterday.  He has nothing to fear from me edging into his market — in my opinion his knives are a steal at £25 each.

Marking knife in Cocobolo and Brass

Marking knife in Cocobolo and Brass.

On the Chevy, the first order of business was to saw the tenons and get them fit.  There were a bunch of tiny details along the way, like the bolt hole in the center of the tenon and the through mortise to hold the square nut on the stretcher. The dovetail joint at the front of the seat was cut down as planned to make room for the bottom of the clamp assembly.  I rounded over the edge of the seat, then sharpened my block plane and chamfered all of the edges on all the parts.  A quick sanding with 180 grit it all I’m doing before I topcoat it with some soft of oil/varnish mix – but first I need to glue up the seat and make a couple of other parts.

I’m nearly done.  What’s left?  Glad you asked.  The only parts left to make are the foot pedal that operates the clamp, the clampy thing, and the lever that is attached to the foot pedal to operate the clampy thing — I’m calling that the squeezy thing.  They are all simple enough parts, and I’m on the fence about doing them in CAD first or not.  It’s possible I could finish the fabrication on this gizmo before Monday, but no predictions.  I know some of you are rooting for another series of soul searching blog posts as I ponder the meaning of life and the sawdust in my navel as I crawl slowly toward an uncertain completion.  You might not be disappointed.

Old News (ish), this was mostly done several weeks ago.  I had to drill some holes and do a bit of finish prep -- now completed.

Old News (ish), this was mostly done several weeks ago. I had to drill some holes and do a bit of finish prep — now completed.

The saw frame was recently completed, I broke all of the edges and sanded it to make sure it was smooth to hold.  Shoot, I just remembered I need to turn a knob for this.

The saw frame was recently completed, I broke all of the edges and sanded it to make sure it was smooth to hold. Shoot, I just remembered I need to turn a knob for this.

The seat assembly and other miscellaneous parts.  First thing today I'll glue the seat together, then start on the squeezy thing.

The seat assembly and other miscellaneous parts. First thing today I’ll glue the seat together, then start on the squeezy thing.

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Third Time is a Charm (ish)

While the turkey was cooking yesterday I turned another marking knife handle, this one out of Cocobolo.

It all came together fairly nicely, I was really gentle with the turning, and the wood was much stronger than the Walnut burl — much more appropriate for this application.  I’ll glue this up today and see how it works.

Marking knife handle turned in Cocobolo

Marking knife handle turned in Cocobolo

I polished the brass collar and sawed the slot for the blade.  I used an old gents saw that I had, to try to get the finest kerf.  That was a mistake because I know it’s impossible to saw straight with it.  Next time I’ll use my dovetail saw.

Parts ready for assembly

Parts ready for assembly and finishing

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Strike Two!

Pardon please for a momentary distraction from our regularly scheduled, interminable, update on the construction of the Marquetry Chevalet. It’s nearly done after all, you wouldn’t want to rush it right? (As if…)

I’ve been following the dovetail tool swap over at Lumberjocks, I really enjoy seeing that community in action. I’m tempted to participate in the swap, but holding off so I don’t overcommitted. Meanwhile I’ve had Brother Cadfael designing tools I could make for the swap, so go figure.

One (of many) detours I’ve been down was to make a dovetail marking knife as laid out by David Barron. I love my Blue Spruce knives for general layout, and my Rob Cosman knife for dovetails — but this seemed like a quick and fun project.  I’ve been gathering the materials over the past week, disposable scalpel blades from the UK, brass tubing and some pen turning blanks, so I decided to give it a shot after work yesterday.

Design for David Barron's marking knife

Design for David Barron’s marking knife

I’d never pretend to be a competent wood turner, mostly because no one would believe me.  I’m having some issues with the spur center holding the stock firmly enough. The first blank I tried, in Cocobolo, was a fail. I hammered the spur drive in, started turning and had it spontaneously split.  I must have driven the spur in too far, although it certainly didn’t seem like it.  The Cocobolo was turning really nicely though.

First try: the Cocobolo blank split due to too much pressure from the spur drive

First try: the Cocobolo blank split due to too much pressure from the spur drive

 

On the second blank, in Claro Walnut, I was careful not to drive the spur center too far. Just a light tap, ok? For the entire time I was turning, it was slipping. I tightened the tail stock to apply more pressure, and it would be ok for a moment, then it would slip again.  It was a dance.

But I got it turned. Ish.

The neck where the brass ferrule goes was a little undersized. Just a little, maybe 10 thousands, but it was workable. The shape was a little fat and graceless, but ok for a prototype. The Walnut was really hard to turn too.  In places it cut nicely, in others it was really prone to chattering.

Second try: Claro Walnut blank.  Not enough grip from the spur drive made it hard, plus this wood didn't seem very lathe friendly

Second try: Claro Walnut blank. Not enough grip from the spur drive made it hard, plus this wood didn’t seem very lathe friendly

The next step is to saw a kerf for the blade. I went gently, but it snapped off. I’m not surprised, I could see it was weak and the Walnut was really brittle.

The small tip snapped off when sawing the kerf for the blade

The small tip snapped off when sawing the kerf for the blade

I’m enjoying this process though.  I like figuring out how to make things, and there are lots of little nuances to this.  Figuring out how to use the lathe to turn a small part like this, how to turn section that is accurate to .002″ or so.  I have another couple of pen turning blanks that I picked up, two feet of Brass tubing and a box of 50 UK scalpel blades so I’m confident I’ll get this figured out.  Or, if not, I’m not out very much money or time.

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving day.  I’ll be making shavings while the bird cooks on the smoker!

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Where’s Joe?

I didn’t have time to post anything this past weekend – my parents were in town for a visit.  I didn’t expect to get any shop time, other than the traditional shop tour to show off what I’m doing.  Neither of my folks have the same “need to make something” affliction as me, so I was slightly surprise when my mom announced she wanted to make a candlestick holder.

My son has made these as Christmas gifts in previous years, and it’s a pretty foolproof project, so I gave her a quick overview and chucked up a piece of Chakte Koc (AKA “mexican red heart”) that I had just for this purpose.  I guided her in the process, but she did all the work, donning my flannel shirt and standing fearlessly in the billowing stream of damp wood shavings spraying out.

Mom working at the $75 lathe

Mom working at the $75 lathe

She sanded the part through a series of grits, ending with 600 and then a final burnish with the shavings from the part.  We finished it with a coat of oil & wax.  Unfortunately we didn’t make time for dad to make one too, but he and I made ribs one night, and pulled pork another.

Mom's Candlestick

Mom’s Candlestick

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Chevy – Nearing the finish line

I had a good couple of hours in the shop yesterday and nearly finished the seat assembly for the Chevalet.

In my previous post I was on the fence about whether to use hand or poser tools for the joinery.  This is not a philosophical debate for me, it’s more about pragmatics.  What approach is going to get the job done most efficiently with the best result?  For example, on tenons I’ve done bunches of them using a dado stack on my table saw with the tenon face horizontal.  The fence controls the height of the tenon and the blade height controls the depth.  With a bit of scrap wood I can dial the tenons in to a very precise measurement.  The downside is that I have to change over to the dado set and set up for each unique tenon face.

In a similar way, my mortiser is very handy and I love it.  But changing over to a different chisel requires a bit of setting up and making test cuts to ensure it’s cutting parallel to the fence.  I’m also not 100% happy with the finish on the mortise walls (I recently read about some tune up procedures that are supposed to help with that, something to do on a rainy ray this winter!)

So I decided to use as many hand tools as I could yesterday.

First the mortises, I had two blind mortises and two through mortises to do.  They are large enough that I didn’t want to try to chop them alone, so I drilled out the bulk of the waste and pared the remaining material in little bits until I got to the wall.  For mortises up to probably 1/2″ wide I’d probably have just chopped them directly, but the smallest of these was 1″ wide.

This is the blind mortise for the toggle arm that actuates the clamp.  The clamp assembly is bolted from below.  I used a 1" bit to clear most of the material, being careful to hit the same depth each time.

This is the blind mortise for the toggle arm that actuates the clamp. The clamp assembly is bolted from below. I used a 1″ bit to clear most of the material, being careful to hit the same depth each time.

After paring the waste back to 1/16″ or less from the walls I set the chisel in the knife lines and chopped straight down.  I’m really pleased with the results, it took very little time and didn’t require any special jigs or tools.  I know there was a stage where I would have done this by making a jig and using a router, which would have been time consuming and noisy.  And I’d still have to square the corners.

Nice looking mortise, if I say so myself!

Nice looking mortise, if I say so myself!

What makes this work for me is taking small bites with the chisel, and having the work oriented so I’m always looking at the side of the chisel to ensure it’s plumb.  I work my way around the mortise nibbling away until I’m about 1/32″ to 1/16″ from my knife lines everywhere.  Taking small cuts is more controllable and easier to keep the chisel vertical.  I never let the walls get out of control.

Small cuts are the key, this is typical of what I'm pulling off the walls.

Small cuts are the key, this is typical of what I’m pulling off the walls.

On the through mortises I followed the same approach.  I knifed in the layout on both sides as accurately as I could, drilled though to remove the waste, and pared back to the line evenly before cutting directly on the knife line.  The only difference was that I worked from both sides towards the middle of the board.  I got one side to within 1/32 of the line, flipped it over and did the same on the reverse.  Finally I dropped the chisel in the knife line and finished it from both sides.  There is a tiny bit of unevenness in the middle (the board is 1.75″ thick), but it’s tiny and won’t affect the fit or strength in any significant way.  Again, happy, happy.

Through mortises on the bottoms of the legs

Through mortises on the bottoms of the legs

I mentioned yesterday that there was a problem with the big dovetail joint not reaching the surface of the seat.  Sure enough, when I measured the seat blank I discovered that I’d left it over-thick.  It was supposed to be 1.75″, but I’d left it at something like 1.860″.  Before I could thickness it to correct that I had to finish with my layout lines on the top, so I cut out the profile, rough cutting it on the bandsaw and finishing the radius with my spokeshave.  I used a rasp and scraper on the front transition sections.

Seat base shaped, the top edge will get a generous rounder later.

Seat base shaped, the top edge will get a generous round over later.

Which just left the tenons and maybe a few details.  I wanted to cut the tenons my hand, but you’ll recall the problem I was having with my Bad Axe tenon saw (the saw plate was getting floppy in the cut).  Mark at Bad Axe said that can happen if the saw gets torqued in a difficult cut, and that his use of a folded back on the saw is an advantage.  Here is something I didn’t know: on saws with folded backs the blade doesn’t seat all the way to the depth of the back.  The back only grips 3/16″ to 1/4″ of the saw plate.  You can read his re-tensioning procedure on his web site,

The gist of “re-tensioning” is to tap the saw plate a tiny bit further into the folded back at both the heel and toe.  Honestly, any problem I can solve by whacking it with a great huge hammer, I’m all for.  So two taps of the hammer later and my tenon saw is magically healed.  Who knew?

So I laid out the first tenon, that goes into the seat bottom and checked it against the mortise.  Thank God, because I mad my mortise gauge set to the wrong dimension.  Take two; I laid out the tenon.  Again.

I sawed the tenon down to the shoulder lines.  I think the tenon saw is a little coarse for shat I’m doing, or maybe I’m just not used to it.  I need a bigger handle too (or smaller hands), this one pinches my hands.  On one of the tenon edges I angled waaaaay off the mark, likely it was into the waste.  I pared the mistake away and then planed the tenon faces to fit.  I intentionally cut the tenon oversize to give myself room to screw up.  I sawed the shoulders on my knife line without cutting a “V” like I usually do, and was left with a whisper of excess all around that I could chisel away,  I ended up with a snug fit and a decent shoulder in the one place on the project that no one will ever see!  Two more tenons and a couple of holes to go and the seat will be done.  I’d better start on the CAD layout for the toggle arm and foot clamp mechanism.

One tenon done, two to go.

One tenon done, two to go.

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First seat joint done

It doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but I got the dovetail joint for the seat cut and fit yesterday afternoon.

I spent some time sawing practice joints first on a tick scrap of Sapele.  My LN dovetail saw didn’t quite reach deep enough, and it was a lot of sawing — but the cut was crisp and arrow straight.  I decided on using my nearly-new Bad Axe 16″ tenon saw and made a bunch of practice cuts to get my arm tuned up.

Practice cuts.  The micro-thin cut labeled "DT" was done with my LN dovetail saw.  The cut on the far right was done with the sun in my eyes and is nowhere near the pencil line.  I probably made 15 or 20 warmup cuts before I cut the actual joint

Practice cuts. The micro-thin cut labeled “DT” was done with my LN dovetail saw. The cut on the far right was done with the sun in my eyes and is nowhere near the pencil line. I probably made 15 or 20 warmup cuts before I cut the actual joint

While I was sawing the cuts I noticed that the saw seemed to want to wobble in the kerf.  When I checked the saw the plate was “loose” or “floppy” along the toothline.  Not good.  I set it aside while I laid out more practice lines, and then noticed that the wobble was gone.  Almost like it was heat related.  I made another cut and it came back.  Crud.  I bought this saw a couple of years ago, but I’ve hardly used it at all.  I emailed Mark at Bad Axe and he suggested that the saw plate needed to be reseated in the folded back, so I’m going to try that today.

Beautiful saw, hopefully Mark's retensioning (http://www.badaxetoolworks.com/retension-a-backsaw.php) advice will resolve the issue.

Beautiful saw, hopefully Mark’s retensioning (http://www.badaxetoolworks.com/retension-a-backsaw.php) advice will resolve the issue.

I sawed out the tails and checked them for accuracy.  There were a few spots where they weren’t flat and a couple of areas where they were slightly out of square with the face of the board.  I pared out all of the problem spots and jury rigged this setup to transfer the tail layout.

Transfering the tail layout to the pin board

Transfering the tail layout to the pin board

If you are particularly observant you’ll have noticed the scraper between the end of the tail board and the plywood alignment stop.  Somehow I had the baseline for the dovetails about 1/16″ too shallow.  That means the end of the tails won’t reach the face of the seat.  Not a structural problem, but a little annoying.  I’ll have to check the thickness of the seat, maybe I didn’t finish it to the right thickness, that would be an easy fix.

I sawed and chopped out the pins, and got the joint mostly fit up in time for dinner.  There is a little tweaking left as one side isn’t seating completely yet.  I’ll deal with that after I get some coffee.

The beginnings of the seat

The beginnings of the seat

The rest of the joinery on the seat should go more quickly.  I’m on the fence about whether to do the work by hand or use power tools.  I’m leaning towards hand tools, if I can re-tension the saw plate on my tenon saw I can practice sawing the tenons, and if they are not perfect it isn’t a huge deal as I haven’t yet convinced my wife to put the Chevy in the living room.  We’ll see.

 

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Shop Update

I plan to make a dent in building the seat for the Chevy today, but first I had a few details to wrap up.

Last year I got a set of Lie-Nielsen bevel edge chisels for Christmas.  I picked out the 3 or 4 chisels I needed most, flattened and polished the backs and sharpened them.  That left a lot of chisels standing in the wings, I finally decided to flatten the backs on all of them, re-doing the ones I’d previously done too as I wasn’t happy with the job I’d done.  I finished flattening and sharpening them this morning, and I’m very glad to be done with that than-you-very-much!

A few thoughts stand out in my mind.  The most obvious is that if I never have to flatten another chisel or plane blade that would be OK.  Second, the world needs a good sharpening jig.  I have the Veritas Mark II and the Eclipse.  Suffice it to say that neither is what I would call a good sharpening jig.

While I’m thinking about it, Jonathan at The Bench Blog asked about the London pattern handled chisel in the background of a recent post, so here are a couple of pics.  It’s a big chisel, but frail thin.  The blade tapers in thickness from maybe 5/16″ thick near the handle to 1/8″ at the start of the bevel.  The bevel is a very low angle, and when I sharpen it I put I higher secondary bevel on it.  The back could be flatter, but that’s a flattening session I’m not ready for.

Sorby Paring Chisel

I. Sorby Paring Chisel

Close up of the name stamp on the blade

Close up of the name stamp on the blade

Close up of the nifty London-pattern handle

Close up of the nifty London-pattern handle

In other news, I wrapped up the last details on the saw frame, I feel pretty good about it.  I tuned up all of the surfaces with a plane, followed by scraping.  I also added a cove detail on the two outer corners.  And I made and glued in the blocks that clamp onto the gimbal mechanism.  I got a nice snug fit on the mortises, so with a little glue this should be plenty strong.  I’ll give it a light sanding after I take the clamps off later and set it aside with the other finished parts.

Cleaning up the surfaces on the saw frame

Cleaning up the surfaces on the saw frame

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 12.19.21 PM

Gimbal blocks glued into mortises (the extra cross brace is just for clamping).  The cove on the outer corners of the frame is done too.

Gimbal blocks glued into mortises (the extra cross brace is just for clamping). The cove on the outer corners of the frame is done too.

Which brings me to sawing the giant dovetail at the front of the seat assembly.  I decided to make some practice cuts in an off cut and there are a couple of issues.  First, my dovetail saw doesn’t have the depth to go to the bottom, it’s at least 3/32″ short.  The blade is also a little fine for a 1.75″ thick rip cut.  I can use my tenon saw, but it’s coarser than I’d like for a dovetail.  I think I can make either work though.

I saw “I think”, because I can’t actually see what I’m doing to make the cut.  The sun coming through the shop window in the mornings is really bright, and the cut line is essentially invisible.  The picture below gives you a sense of this.  So while I wait for the sun to move I’ll grab lunch and then chop some of the mortises for this assembly.

Where the heck is the line?

Where the heck is the line?

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Benjamin Seaton Dovetail Saw

Apparently Brother Cadfael feels we need a nifty dovetail saw for our virtual dovetail toolkit too.

This is modeled on the Kenyon dovetail saw from the Seaton tool chest.  The front of the handle is different on the Seaton saw than on most of the “reproduction” Kenyon-patterned dovetail saws I’ve seen.

There are a few details I want to nudge, then I’ll make some patterns.  Just for fun, mind.

saw3

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Cadfael: Dovetail Chisel

Brother Cadfael has been distracted lately with thoughts of participating in the ongoing Dovetail Tool Swap on Lumberjocks.

Background: Apparently the lumberjocks community does these “swap” events a couple of times a year.  The premise is simple; you sign up to make a particular thing, you have a few months to get it done by a fixed deadline, you mail a picture to the moderator and they tell you who to send your widget to.  In return you get something back.  They recently did a saw swap, and there were some pretty nice saws built as part of that event.

I’ve never participated in one of these “swap” events, and I’m not yet participating in this one.  Yet.  Most likely.

But it’s fun to think about what I might make.  Ya know…if I was participating.  I’ve looked at more marking knives, marking gauges and dovetail saws in the past week than I have in a long time.  For fun, I thought I’d model a small chisel for chopping and paring dovetails.  It had to be something most guys could make with tools they’d have on hand — no forging or machining allowed.  It had to look good, and be able to chop as well as pare.  Here is what I came up with:

Rendering of a devetail chisel I'm not making

Rendering of a devetail chisel I’m not making

The business end is ground from a 1/4″ square O1 tool steel blank, and it’s probably the hardest part.  The handle is styled in the London pattern, but with a retaining hoop on the back.  The brass fittings are made from common brass tube and a small piece of 1/8″ sheet brass…like the one laying on the floor of my metal shop…which is just a coincidence.  I don’t have any O1 steel anywhere.  Really.

I even drew up some plans so *you* could build one.  Please build one, and send me a picture so I’m not tempted.

Click on the picture to download these plans

Click on the picture to download these plans

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