Sunday, July 22, 2012

Plan Measure Cut OOPS!

Yesterday was a busy Saturday with several errands on the docket and a concert in the park, complete with an Eagles tribute band.  They did a fine job, however Danger Boy was not impressed.  I’m going to have to get that boy the greatest hits CDs pronto!  Even with all the running, rocking and rolling I was able to work in some time on the candle holders. 

Now that all of the pieces were cut to final dimensions it was time to get cracking on the joinery.  I laid out the positioning points for the halved joints on one of the longer base pieces with the intent to set up stop blocks on the cross-cut sled.
Since all five candle holders are of the same dimensions the plan is to set up my cuts in a production run format.  This first set up will allow the two outer joints to be cut with this same configuration since they’re the same distance from the ends.  I’ll just need to cut one, then flip the piece and cut the other.

With the first stop block in place, I used one of the shorter base pieces to set the width that will be created by the second stop block.  From the title of this post, you’re anticipating something going wrong…and some of you wiser folks might even see it already!

By removing the shorter base piece I now have a small gap between the stops that will allow me to cut my halved joints…queue tense, dramatic, “something’s about to go wrong” music here.

Here’s the sad part…not only am I going to miscalculate this cut, but I think I’ll stop and take a picture of it.  J

Then after cutting this half of the joint I still won’t snap to…but I will snap more photos!

In a fevered moment of personal triumph I grabbed one of the smaller base pieces to test what is sure to be a nice, snug, precise fit…

As soon as I saw that extra little gap, around…oh let’s say…1/8 of an inch…the exact width of the table saw blade…the palm of the hand meets the forehead!  At this point I’m really sorry that I didn’t cut an extra 10 inch piece to use for set-up…now my forehead is really getting sore!

Let’s just call this a teachable moment and move along, eh?   You can see here that when I place the shorter base piece along the far edge of the joint, the blade fits right into the remaining gap.

Fortunately it was easy to mark this location and use this new line to move the stop block in to close the gap.

With a cold compress on my forehead and the stop blocks set correctly, the next cut produced exactly what I was looking for…a clean looking joint with a snug fit.

I was also pleased to find enough left-over stock to cut another 10 inch base piece to replace what we’ll now call the “test piece.”

I went ahead and cut the joints on the replacement piece and then used the good cut on the test piece to fine tune the fit.  I did need to raise the blade just a hair more, but I’ve now got the sled dialed in to produce some really nice halved joints.

And with that, rather than flirt with disaster, I went to bed.  I’ll finish cutting these joints on Sunday!

Rock on fellow Eagles fans!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Let the Recycling Begin

You might remember these guys from an earlier post…

Well now they look like this…

That stack represents about a third of the wood I harvested from those old dressers, and should be plenty of stock for this next project.  After ripping all the old edges off of each board I planed them down to 3/8 and 5/8 inches thick.

I’ll be modifying a candle holder design of Steve Ramsey’s ( so that it can be broken down and stored flat in a small box made from this same Oak.  Steve used Maple and Brazilian Cherry for his.

You might recall that these dressers belonged to my lovely bride’s grandmother.  They were passed down to her parents, and then to us not long after we were married.  The plan is to build a candle holder and a storage box for all three generations of these amazing ladies.  I had previously mentioned something about three generations of underwear, but I’m only recycling the wood, not my own bad jokes.

I like the scale and proportions of Steve’s original design, so I’m following a close approximation to his original dimensions.  This first step was to rip some of the 3/8 inch stock down to two inches wide.

I was able to get five clean, solid boards from the pieces I selected.  I ended up with a couple extra boards that include the transition seams where two boards were joined together. 

The odd thing is that many of these boards are made from smaller pieces joined together…and none of them are nice, straight joints.  Almost every board has several pieces joined together at some really weird angles.  It made it a little tougher to maximize any long, straight, solid stock.

The next step was to cut the parts for the candle holders.  I used the cross-cut sled with stop blocks to ensure all the parts are cut to the same size.  I first cut the three smaller pieces from each board at four inches in length.

I then moved the stop block and cut the longer pieces at ten inches.  I cut enough parts to make five of these candle holders, and each set of parts is cut from the same board to ensure color and grain matching on each one.

For the small platforms that will hold the tea-light candles I’ve selected some Sapelle.

After jointing one face and edge on each piece, I ripped them down to two inches wide.

Then it was back to the cross-cut sled to cut a whole herd of two inch by two inch squares.

Here we have our five sets of parts for the candle holders.


Stay tuned for the next step…cutting the bridle joints and the insets for the candle platforms.  I’ll be looking for a pretty snug fit since these won’t be permanently joined with glue. 

Special thanks go out to Steve for being so generous in sharing his designs and to my lovely bride for allowing me to repurpose all this beautiful old Oak.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scary Sharp for Danger Boy

A couple weeks ago I ordered a few Groz hand planes from Woodcraft during their big clearance sale.  I was able to pick up a block plane and the #3 and #4 bench planes for Danger Boy.   Late one night, with the rest of the fam tucked in, I fired up an old Wood Talk Online podcast episode and cleaned up these new additions.

They were heavily coated in “shipping goop” so a lot of WD-40 was dispensed!  They cleaned up nicely, and some checking with machinists squares revealed that they have pretty darn flat soles.  I was expecting to have to do some serious work to flatten the bottoms, but I was pleasantly surprised all around.

For my own tastes I would want to upgrade the blades with some thicker Ron Hock blades, but I think these will serve as great intro planes in the meantime.  They were in need of some serious sharpening through…and how sharp is sharp enough for Danger Boy?  SCARY Sharp!

I’ve been using this sharpening method for my planes and chisels for years now and have always been rewarded with great results.

The first steps were to set up the various grits of sandpaper on my glass plates (I use 3M’s Supper 77 spray adhesive) and to break down the block plane.  I use eight different grits, starting at 220 and ending at 2000. (220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000)

The hardest part of sharpening a blade for the first time is flattening the back.  A truly sharp edge is only created by two perfectly flat surfaces coming together to form the cutting edge.  All the hard work is done on the 220 grit paper and can take a fair bit of time to work through.

The goal is to work the back of the blade on the sandpaper until all the scratches in the surface are uniform.  After working the blade through two pieces of the 220 grit paper, you can see that there was still a bit of work to do on this blade.  That cloudy looking area still needs to be worked out.

Another sheet of 220 and we’re getting closer.

Yet another sheet of 220 and another dose of elbow grease and we’re finally there!

I’ve turned the flash off here to show the scratch pattern.  This is what you’re looking for, a surface that is completely covered by the same pattern of scratches, in the same direction.

Once this has been accomplished on the lowest, hardest working, grit, it’s a much easier task to work your way up through the next levels of sandpaper.  They key is to make sure that you’ve removed the scratches from the previous grit and that the pattern gets finer and finer all the way up to your final grit.

After working all the way up to the 2000 grit paper I had a mirror smooth finish with no perceptible scratch pattern at all.  Say cheese!

Not only does it keep my coffee hot, but my Woodworking for Mere Mortals mug is the perfect tool to test the reflection of the flattened surface.  I’d better tell Steve…he can start charging more for these babies!

With the back flattened and polished to a mirror finish it was time to tackle the bevel.  I set the blade up in my Veritas honing guide and locked it down at a 25 degree angle.  Since this is the first sharpening on this blade, a fair bit of time was spent on the 220 grit paper.
As with flattening the back, the goal is to work toward a uniform scratch pattern on the bevel surface before moving onto the next grit.  I worked the bevel all the way up through the 2000 grit paper.

The coffee mug test reveals that mirror smooth finish we’re shooting for.

The lighting makes it a little tough to see, but this honing guide incorporates a feature that allows you to change the sharpening angle by 1 or 2 degrees so that a micro-bevel can be applied to the edge.  With the indicator at the top of the barrel, the guide sharpens at the set angle…in this case the 25 degrees I selected.

Rotating the barrel into the lower position changes the sharpening angle to 27 degrees.  This allows for just the tip of the cutting edge to be honed to this increased pitch, making the edge stronger and less likely to chip or dent.

Another tour through all eight grits and you can now see that secondary bevel at the cutting edge.

After some clean-up, I reassembled the block plane and took it for test drive on some scrap Poplar.

Full width and full length shavings from the very first pass!  Not bad!  We’ll just call this a small victory though as there are still the blades for the other two planes that need to be sharpened.  I’m not scared though!