Friday, 8 December 2017

Catching Up With This And That...

Just a few quick thoughts...

Someone, I think on Google, asked me to post drawings for the little portable vise I posted about on November 11th. I have been working on them and should have them done relatively soon.

Also, I was asked about the knicker blade for the Filletster Plane I posted about back in February of this year. I did get a replacement blade from Bob's Tool Box in the UK, but it was a tad too wide so I plan to do the slight modification it needs right after I finish veneering my bondo-trued fir plywood (I love typing that because I know it makes some cringe). I will be videoing the process and I will post the results here.

And speaking of veneering...all I can say is...what a pain in the ass that job is.

The only bit of advice I can give anyone who hasn't tried veneering yet is; don't do it unless you have the proper set-up for it. I will never veneer anything this large again, so I think spending a few hundred or so on a couple of dozen clamps and cauls, or better yet, spending the time and the money to build a 40" x 50" (the size of the largest piece) multi-screw press is crazy. As a result, I have jury-rigged the weirdest set-ups to get the job done.

I have been getting the job done slowly, doing it in a way that is either gutsy, or just damned stupid.

While clamps are one major requirement, the other is "plates". These are dead-flat pieces of material that are at least the same size as the piece you are veneering, or better yet, slightly larger. Again, I'll never use them again so instead of buying material to make them, I bought a couple of pieces of 18-gauge sheet metal. I am using the actual substrate pieces I made for the cabinet as the plates, stacking them with two, already veneered or not, on the bottom, covering it with a piece of sheet metal, then the piece of substrate I am veneering on top of it, then the second piece of sheet metal, then two more pieces of substrate, again veneered or not, on top. I then use strips of 11mm plywood (leftovers from the substrate) and some 2x4 cauls I made to clamp them all together. Because the substrate pieces are made from two pieces of 11mm ply glued together, giving a finished thickness of a hair under 1", there is relatively no give to them, and with five of them clamped together, there is zero chance of any twisting. They have also been flattened beyond an inch of their lives (remember the bondo), so they actually do the job very well. I did have one veneered piece I was using as a plate that came out with a 3" long by 1/8" wide dent in it. I don't know what caused it, probably a stray, missed sliver of veneer, but I took my wife's really expensive, and very hot, steam iron to it and it just disappear.

Peace,

Mitchell

Saturday, 11 November 2017

It Followed Me Home, Dear. Can I keep it...

Sometimes, something catches your eye and you immediately have to have it. That is what happened here.

During one of my usual weekly internet search for tools, I went to http://bobstoolbox.co.uk, a fantastic vintage tool shop in Liskeard, Cornwall, England, where I came across this...
It was such a pretty vice, I had to have it, so for the reasonable list price of £58 plus shipping, it was on its way to Canada. When it arrived at my door, I was even more taken with it than I was when I saw Bob's image of it.
It is only a little guy, measuring 8" tall by 8" deep by 2 3/4" wide, but it is beautifully made and the wood is...well...just gorgeous. There isn't a maker's mark on it anywhere, which is too bad. I would have liked a chance to know a little bit more about the maker. 
The Coke can is for scale.
I'm not sure if it is dogwood or pear. I'd like to think it is latter, but it is more likely that it is made out of the former.


It has what looks to be a blacksmith made mount on the back of it. The mount screw is missing its swivel, lost probably when its mounting screw sheared, so replacing it will require a bit of fussing to extract the screw's leftovers. I really do not expect the mount to work very well, as this type of mount rarely does, but it is very cool looking, effective or not.
It has a piece of spring steel mounted on the inside-bottom of the rear leg, just above its mount point. The rear leg is fixed while the front one has two pivot points, one a half inch behind the other. The spring steel ensures the jaws separate from each other when the pressure is released.
The Coke can was added for scale.
I also bought a knicker with wedge for the H. E. Mitchell Filletster Plane I bought last winter, and a Veneer Hammer to spread the cost of shipping over more than just the vice. Bob charged me £20 for the shipping.

If you want to spend an enjoyable few minutes wandering around Bob's Tool Box without heading off to England, use this link to get you there...Bob's Toolbox 360° Virtual Tour. It's a little freaky to get used to, but it is also a real hoot.

Peace,

Mitchell

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

To Quote My Old Man, "Boy, What the Hell Were You Thinking"...

To say I'm surprised by the lack of comments regarding my experiment with Bondo and veneer would be an understatement. In fact, I have been mildly shocked by the lack of comments raking me over the coals for doing something that isn't considered a normal way to do things. The only thing I can think of that would keep the, "you-can't-do-it-that-way" boys from ripping me a new one is that they think I'm beyond help.

So what the hell was I thinking...

  Why Construction Grade ply?
This is mainly to do with price, but also to do with convenience. 
One sheet of 11mm Good One Side Fir Sanded Plywood at Lowe's or Home Depot is less than $50 a sheet. Included in that price is up to five cuts to the sheet, so getting the stock into the trunk of my wife's Fusion to take home was never a problem. 
  Why two layers of 11mm fir ply?
I wanted the material thickness to be in the same scale as the cabinet it defines. This is a fair-sized cabinet so its components should reflect that. I didn't need a full 1" thick. All I needed was material that was obviously thicker than 3/4", hence the laminated 11mm ply, which, when veneered on both sides, ends up being a very thin hair thinner than 1".
By laminating two 11mm pieces I could ensure they were dead flat during glue-up and they would stay that way after they came out of the clamps (ok, when the screws were removed - don't be so picky).
  Why not use pre-veneered ply?
I wanted White Oak veneer, not Red. The box stores only sell Red Oak Veneered ply, so I would have to purchase what I needed at a hardwood lumber yard, rent a truck to get it home, and fight with it to cut it up as I do not own a panel saw.
Price!  
Also, I have never done any veneering before and I wanted to try it. 
  Why veneer before assembly? 
Every component included in this cabinet is flat-slabbed. There isn't a curved surface on it. Believe me, I tried to add a curve or two, but when I did, I lost a lot of storage room where the corners once were. Because it is just flat panels, I guessed that fitting the veneer would be far easier if I had to trim 1" thick stock than it would be if I had to deal with stock that was 0.8mm thick.
  Why use Bondo? 
You can't be a car-guy who grew up in the '50s and '60s and not know about Bondo. 3M makes Bondo, and they also make a slightly heavier two-part filler called White Lightnin'. They recommend both for metal and wood, but I have found that the Bondo is quicker to work with for lighter applications, such as fairing my plywood slabs.
Peace,

Mitchell

Friday, 27 October 2017

Huge Score...

I scored huge last week.

Nine molding planes to add to my H. E. Mitchell collection.

A 7/8" Rebate plane...


Five assorted bead planes made at assorted times, two of which I have, but not in as good of shape as these, and one with missing boxwood which I can use for its parts...


One No. 11 Round that looks almost new for a plane made in the 1890's...


One No. 15 Hollow made in the 1870's...


And one 5/8" No. 1 Sash made between 1880 and 1899...


None are matching, other than having been made by my great grandfather's cousin. The were made at difference dates, given the different the maker's marks, but they are nice, clean looking planes.

Opening that package was like Christmas all over again.

Peace,

Mitchell

Beware of the Mad Scientist...


Surprisingly, so far so good with the veneering, but I would like to try truing up plywood with some one-part filler, particularly one by Dynamic Paint Products, but I need some help from you guys.

So far I’m very happy with the results of my veneered shelf and it has stayed that way for a whole three days now. The thing is, problems with veneer can rear their ugly heads years from now, so as things stand at this point, I’m still rolling dice. What I need is a way to accelerate the aging process.

Any ideas?

Peace

Mitchell

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

One Up For The New Veneering Guy...

I had some problems with the Hide Glue during my first install of veneer on plywood trued with bondo.

It worked!


The maple veneer is smooth, flat, and seriously stuck to the Bondo-coated plywood, without so much as a hint of an uneven surface. I veneered both sides of the ply at the same time, rolling the Hide Glue on using a foam roller. I then used one of my wife's heavy plastic clothes storage bags, the type you suck the air out and compress the contents using a vacuum, to put pressure on the veneer while the glue dried. I think she bought it at Walmart, but I'm not sure and if I ask her, she will know I stole her bag. I used my shop vac to deflate the bag, resulting in some serious pressure. I then left the piece to dry overnight. The air valve on the bag is a one-way type, so you only need to suck the air out of it and once it is as tight as it will ever get, you can remove the vacuum hose without any ill effects to the pressure.


I opened it up this morning and was truly pleased with the results. It is nice to win one once in a while.

Peace,

Mitchell

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Bondo On...Bondo Off...

I have a feeling that some of you aren't exactly agreeing with my choices for truing-up the panels that are to be veneered with Bondo, and I get that. I'm a complete novice at this veneering stuff and here I am, right out of the box and I start doing things that are not common processes and I'm using uncommon materials to do it, to boot. I get it. 

So I coated each panel with Bondo and set it off to dry. I was originally going to sand each of them down with 100 grit self-sticking roll paper, stuck to an 18" board, but it turns out the board was too long for the narrow panels and the grit was too light. I ended up using half-sheets of 60 grit wrapped around a specially cut 9 1/2" board. Once the first coat was boarded, I spread a second layer of Bondo over the entire board again, tipping it off to level it, and setting them off to the side to dry completely again.

Twenty-four hours later the Bondo was hard and dry so I went at all the panels again with the board and the 60 grit sandpaper. Working with Bondo is like waxing a car for Mr. Miyagi, the instructor for the Karate Kid. You lay the stuff on one way, and remove the majority of it another. By boarding it, you remove the Bondo completely from only the high spots while the Bondo you leave on the board fills in the low spots. The trick is, always sand at a 45° to the grain, doing so in both directions.

The grain of the board is running from right to left, so sanding
goes from top to bottom, first angled one way,
then angled the opposite way.
The idea is to not only flatten the board so it is ready for veneering, but to lay a "scratch hatch" on it so the Hide Glue has a tooth to grip to. I think the 60 grit leaves a strong enough scratch hatch to work, but if not, I'll let the Hide Glue dry and then sand the board clean again. I'll then hit it with a toothing plane. I think the crosshatching I achieved with the 60 grit paper should be enough, though.

Enlarged, you can see the crosshatching quite well.
As you can see from the second image, there isn't much Bondo left on the panel. Nothing would be gained by leaving a lot of the filler on, but if you do, each panel will have to be worked so their thicknesses are the same.

Now that the panels are fully prepared, I can now get on with sticking some veneer to them. I am planning to use Hide Glue to take advantage of one of its best characteristics - its ability to be turned back into liquid once its been applied. If I can use Hide Glue, if an area of veneer doesn't stick, I can use an iron to reheat the glue and turn it back into a liquid again, then I can work and clamp that specific area without the need to add more glue to it, as heating the glue makes it useable again. If I run into problems getting the Hide Glue to stick to the Bondo, I'll just find another glue to use.

So I'm off to glue some veneer.

Peace,

Mitchell

Friday, 20 October 2017

Wearing a Veneer of Perfection Never Did Me Any Good...

I hope it works out better for my cabinet.

I've been out of it for pretty much the summer. I have no excuse for it, other than just being a lazy old fart. But the times they are a changin'.

In truth, I have actually been at it, not hard, but at it. I haven't written about any of it yet, but that will change over the winter months. While I'll include a few images here, I'll mainly be putting all my time and energy into getting my damned tool cabinet built, and given its size, that can only be done outdoors. Will the cabinet be anything like I have yacked about in the past? Ya, close I guess, but there will be some supple differences from the original drawings. There will also be one major difference; it will be made from veneer covered plywood. 

Going with veneer wasn't an easy decision to make. Like most in my generation, every time I saw a piece of veneered furniture I would actually cringe a bit, so deciding to use it on this project was a HUGE change for me. If you were raised during the '50s and '60s, you will remember all the mass produced furniture that was being pumped out. Walk into any Kmart or Woolworths back then and you would see acres and acres of cheap, crappy furniture that was typically made pressed board (pressed paper), smothered in less than paper-thin veneer, which as often as not, wasn't made from wood. The printed-to-look-just-like-wood plastic laminate was pure junk, as was the pressed board it was sort of stuck to. As a result of this trash furniture, I, and the majority of my generation, came to look down upon veneered furniture as cheap crap that we wouldn't give house-room to. We were wrong, but hey, it was the '50s and '60s, so none of us would listen.

So what changed my mind about veneer?

Cost.

I wanted to build a 1" thick solid maple cabinet with dovetailed joints and burled floating panels, but getting into it, I realized the material bill would equal the family jewels. Rough 5/4 maple sells for around $7 a board foot in Ontario, Canada, so I figured the wood bill for the whole thing would run around $800, plus the usual additional costs. Given this cabinet will never sit in my wife's living or dining room, and that, maybe, if I had a party or something, maybe 8 people would see it before I'm a goner, so I came to realize that a solid maple cabinet would be the epitome of overkill.

With the decision to go with veneer finally made, I started looking for a source. Enter, surprisingly, eBay. A gentleman was selling out his father's small mill, and he had a huge selection of veneers. I wanted maple, and he just happened to have some...well...actually, he had a lot. I offered to purchase 24 consecutive sheets of maple, 14" wide by 12' long for $300. Surprisingly, he took it and we both walked away from the deal happy.

I used scrap wood as spacers between the
different lengths of veneer and
sandwiched them between
two pieces of ply.
The veneer arrived stacked in sequence and rolled up together so my first job was to get it all numbered, cut to rough lengths and sandwiched between some plywood to keep it all flat. It took me about four hours to go through everything.

Where no spacers were needed, I used clamps
to hold the bundle together and keep
it all flat (the veneer outside the
ply will be trimmed off)
For the substrate, I decided to glue together two sheets of 11mm good one side plywood, giving an overall thickness of 22mm, or roughly .87". I went this route because gluing two pieces of plywood together results in a very ridged panel which is thick enough to handle any joining I could come up with. I also did a few things a bit differently because the panels will be veneered as well. I didn't bother with clamps for the glue-up. I just laid one piece good side down, then I spread yellow carpenters glue over the exposed rough face, positioned the second sheet over it with the good side up and screwed the whole lot down to the bench top (I flattened the top before I did this) using 1 1/2" deck screws. I wrapped the whole lot in a tarp and let them dry for a couple of days. The result was some great panels to work with.

Here, I just finished driving 17 screws through the ply and
into the bench top to ensure the panel dries flat

Given the wet weather we have had here this summer, the
whole lot was wrapped in a tarp which was held down
by cleats and left for a couple of days
I also think the hardest part of a cabinet to veneer is the edges, and the proof of this is how many cabinets I have seen where the edge banding has fallen off. To get past this, I bought some solid 3/4" thick maple and cut it up into 1" strips. I then glued a strip on the edges that would be exposed once the cabinet was assembled. When the glue dried I planned off the excess using my old man's No.4 Stanley plane, letting the heel of it rest on the panel so it worked as a guide. I'll run the veneer right up to the outside edge of the maple and I'll plane the whole lot flat and square.

Here the 1" strip of solid maple is glued and clamped to
the exposed edge of a side
Once I had the panels glued up and edged, I gave each side a fair coat of Bondo auto body filler. This was done to not only fill the holes caused by the screws when the panel was glued up, but to help flatten the ply, filling in the hollows that are always present in this cheaper, construction grade plywood. The Bondo will be hand sanded with a 18" sandpaper flat that will be fitted with self-adhesive 120 grit paper. The result should be hard, flat, and properly toothed for the veneer to be attached using hide glue, my first time for it as well.

Here the different panels have been coated with a thin coat
of two-part auto body filler to true their surfaces
Peace,

Mitchell

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Where Have All The Old Tools Gone...

Where have all the old tools gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the old tools gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the old tools gone?
Young men picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?



Ok, lets face the new reality...eBay really sucks for vintage tools.


The question everyone is asking...
...where did all the sellers go?
Peace,

Mitchell 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Getting Rid Of Duplicates #3...

This plane is sold, shipped
and
living the good life in New York State.

Up for sale, I have a Veritas Small Plow Plane with Fence, Depth Shoe and five (5) Imperial Standard Blades.

This is Lee Valley's Right-Handed Small Plow Plane.

This is a great little plane that Lee Valley gave me in lieu of payment for a cartoon that reflected some customers' confusion about Veritas' new style of saw and block plane that were introduced in 2008.

Here is the earning cartoon...


And this is the one that their designer wanted, but wasn't used for publication...


This is a great little plane that I have used to plow slots for bottoms in drawers, all the way up to plowing shadow lines in risers on a 3-tier balcony and deck system on a hot-shot's cottage. it has never given me a lick of trouble and the A2 steel blades show little signs of use.

While this plane hasn't been modified to accept Lee Valley Beading Blades, it is capable of being modified.

Lee Valley sells this plane with the five blades for $329.00 Canadian. I'm selling this really clean, used one for $225.00 Canadian.

  • Face-To-Face Delivery is available in the Greater Toronto Area for no additional charge.
  • Cash is the only accepted payment for Face-To-Face Deliveries.
  • I only accept PayPal for payment, when a face-to-face delivery is not possible. 
  • I ship using the Postal Service only.
  • I will only charge what the post office charges me for shipping, and do not add on any additional amount of time or shipping materials.
  • I will fully refund the cost of the tool plus any shipping charges if the tool is found to be not in "as claimed" condition, or there is a problem with the tool that does not show up in the photos.


$225(CAN) firm.

The plane is clean, with no signs of rust or pitting...
...on either side.
The skate is in almost "as-new" condition.
The Blade Holding Mechanism works like its new.
This is what comes with the Plane: one Depth Shoe, one Fence,
and five Imperial Standard Blades
The Blades are in great shape from their front surface...
...to their back surface.
The stock Veritas Tote shows some toolbox
dings, but it is still in great shape with
great grain and colour...
...and it is just as clean on the right side
as it is on the left.
A cool tool that belongs in your hands.

Peace,

Mitchell


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Rasps, My New Fixation...

I can across this video this morning and found it both entertaining and informative. I have a couple of Auriou Rasps and I'm looking to buy a couple more. If you think one rasp is as good as the next, think again.



Peace,

Mitchell

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

How Do I Spell Filletster? C - O - O- L...

I have always been leery of Facebook and I didn't take the plunge with it for years. Finally, I jumped and while it was great keeping up to date with friends and relatives, I still tended to go back every few months and delete whatever I could find that I had posted previously. Paranoid? Probably, but who ever said I was rational?

After Donald Trump won the election, however, things very quickly changed. I'm not going to get into a political discussion here because my political affiliations and beliefs are none of your business. I do have to say, though, that after that election, I suddenly discovered that many of my friends and relatives were crazy. Many had gone completely crackers. A couple of my relatives have IQs of a gazillion or more, but it seems that their intelligence was unable to help them cope with the loss of their beloved Democrat, which made no sense to me at all, because they are Canadian, for God's sake. When I had finally had enough, I stopped going on the site, then about a week later I went on and tried to delete my page.

Did you know you can not delete your Facebook page? Nope. You can make it "Inactive", but you can't remove it. I also discovered that the content of my deactivated page suddenly became searchable on Google. Before I deactivated the page I never had my own Facebook content appear as a hit in a relative search, but after the page was deactivated, my past research postings suddenly became search hits. Crazy, no?

So I deactivated my Facebook page and three or four days later I did my usual start-off-the-week Google search for tools made by H. E. Mitchell. A hit came up for a Filletster Plane that was made by Mitchell, so I quickly hit the link and found myself on Facebook reading a flag that said, "Welcome back, Mitchell. Please sign-in to proceed." Damn! So I signed in, looked at the posting for the plane and contacted the seller to see if he would be willing to ship to Canada. He was, I paid, he shipped, I got, and I have to say, it is a pretty cool looking plane...


Filletster Planes are specifically designed to cut rabbets or half laps, and come in two styles. The first is the Standard Filletster. This style of plane has an integrated, fixed fence that is part of the plane's body. The second is the Moving Filletster, which involves some pretty specific criteria to be met if the plane is to be called this. The plane must have a skewed iron, a flat sole, a moveable fence and an adjustable depth stop. The fence can be held and adjusted using two screws that run through the fence and into the body of the plane, or an armed fence, similar to those found on a Plow Plane. My latest plane purchase, with the screw-type fence,  has all four of these features so it can properly be called a "Moving Filletster Plane".


My Filletster Plane does have some issues, the main one being a missing Nicker Blade and Wedge to hold it. I going to have to research what style of Nicker Blades Mitchell used because this example has a bit of a strange setting. The slot for it that runs down the edge of the body just in front of the iron is 1/4" by 1/2", the 1/2" dimension running front to back. The exit of this slot on the sole of the plane is 1/8" by 9/16", the longer dimension running from side to side. Weird, eh? It would make more sense to me to have those dimensions turned 90°, so it is going to take a little research to figure out what kind of blade to make.


Another problem with the plane is the Escapement. It looks like someone wanted to make the throat a little deeper so they went at it with a tool that was definitely not suitable for the job. It is going to take some real patience to get that cleaned up.


Other than those two issues, it is a damned nice plane. The grain of the body is straight and clean. The blade is completely useable, and the fence and depth stop work like a charm.


The plane was probably made around 1890 to 1900 as the maker's mark includes the Trade Mark lion, something Mitchell didn't have on his mark until that time. I am also curious about the depth stop mechanism. While there are some slight changes, the overall shapes and the way those shapes work together on my plane are very close to being the same as those shown in the photo below, especially the fact that both mine and the one in the photo have a 1/16" slice of steel covering the bottom of the depth stop foot. Was there a company out there suppling parts like these to plane makers, or did one maker blatantly steal the designs of another maker, without bothering to hide the theft?


Most importantly for me though, is that happy stamp of the nose of this thing...


Peace,

Mitchell



Tuesday, 10 January 2017

My Old Friend Called...

I am backing off my complaints about Lee Valley's proprietary restrictions that I encountered last week when I tried to purchase some plane parts.


Carol Litwack, Assistant Manager, Customer Service, Lee Valley Tools Ltd., called me late yesterday afternoon and politely explained to me why I could buy a short Norris Blade Adjuster, but not a long one. Simply put, they don't make them and they just don't have enough to go around.

She was also quick to point out that the run-around that I got last week from three different Customer Service Reps shouldn't happen again. Ms. Litwack explained that she saw how the wheels fell off the bus during my first contact with Lee Valley about this purchase and she has taken steps with her staff to minimize the possibility of this type of thing happening again. She handled the conversation well, didn't over-do the sorry-syrup, and said all the things that mattered.

Ordinarily, Lee Valley has one of the best Customer Service programs I have ever seen, which is why it is such a shocker to me that this came up. This particular screw-up was a result of their representatives not understanding the situation fully, not getting a clarification and, once another rep got it sorted out, mistakenly thought that being straight with the customer wasn't the wisest move. In general, retail customers are often a royal pain in the butt, but even the worst ones can spot bullshite from a 1000-yards. Ms. Litwack was straight with me and I appreciated it.

I am still not getting a long Norris-type blade adjuster from Lee Valley Tools, but now I know there is a rational reason for it being that way. 

I have taken my design a little further. While I can't define it completely until I have the blade and adjuster in, I have kicked the look of the plane up a bit. I am also thinking of adding a brass blade bed to it, as well as a brass sole, all for durability, but a little polished brass wouldn't hurt its looks, either.

Here is my version 2.0 for this Edge Plane...

Peace,

Mitchell

Friday, 6 January 2017

A New Project Results In A Goodbye To An Old Friend...

I always have been able to find something of interest on the Lost Art Press Blog. This time it was a "make it yourself" post for a plane that I have been actually looking to buy these past few months - the Cabinet Makers' Edge Plane.


Stanley made their No. 97 Cabinet Makers' Edge Planes from 1905 to 1943, most of which are now selling for anywhere from $400 to $700. Just for comparison, Lie-Nielsen sells a smaller version of the 97 for $145. Stanley sold their original version for $2.20 in 1909, selling their 2 1/4" replacement blade for a whopping 45¢. 

Depending on the way the blade is situated, it is either a flush-cutting plane or a bullnose smoother. If the blade is set flush with the sole of the plane, it will cut flush all day long. Extend the blade a sliver, and it becomes, according to Christopher Schwarz, a great smoother for blind rabates and stopped chamfers.

I spent a great deal of time these past couple days studying every video I could find on this style of plane and once I figured I had a reasonable idea of how it worked, I set out to design my own.


The original Stanley used the same type of blade adjustment as their 220 block plane, but for mine, I think I'm going to go with a Norris type adjuster. I'm planning to use the same type of lever cap, though. The only other major difference is that my body will be made out of a nice hunk of Rosewood, rather than a casting. This is just a rough layout for this plane, as once I get the 2" blade and the adjuster in my hands, I'll be able to take it further.

To get the required parts, I turned to my usual supplier for all things toolie; Lee Valley. They have 2" lever caps that they use on their Low Angle Smoothing Plane, but they are not listed in their online store so I emailed them to ask if they would sell me one. Whoever I was dealing with said she would speak to the powers that be and get back to me, which she did, telling me they would sell me one for the crazy low price of $14. I was more than pleased.

Originally, I had planned to purchase their "Wooden Bench Plane Hardware Kit", which includes a 2" O1 blade, a short Norris adjuster with seating cap, and the necessary items needed to make a wood lever cap, all for $56, but I noticed a glitch with the adjuster. With the design I was looking at, the short adjuster was just too short. If I used it, I would have to cut away too much of the body to give room for my fingers to get at the knob, so I emailed them again asking if I could purchase their longer Norris type adjuster, the one that they use on their 5 1/4W Bench Plane. This is when the ball of string started to unravel.

Basically, they said no, you can't buy a long one because we have no record of you ever buying a 5 1/4W Bench Plane. I was half expecting this as I ran into their proprietary issues when I was converting an old Delta water stone sharpener into a dry sharpener. This, however, was worse as they were telling me that there was no issue selling me a short adjuster, but damned if they were going to sell me a long one. If I wasn't so pissed, I would have laughed. I told them to basically shove it.

I ordered a Lie-Nielsen 2" blade and bought a Norris type long adjuster on eBay. I also found a couple of lever caps that would work, but I decided to make my own from some brass stock, just to say I have done it. Once the blade and adjuster come in, I'll be able to finalize the design and get to work cutting a hunk of Rosewood that I actually bought from Lee Valley a few years ago. I also bought a package of oval headed brass screws from them as well, one of which will work to hold down the lever cap.

Am I being too bitchy about this? Maybe, but if they could tell me I never bought a 5 1/4W Bench Plane from them, they could also see that I have been a customer of theirs for decades and that I haven't been shy about spending my money with them. It would appear that my loyalty and spending were only worth a short adjuster to them as it appears they are saving their long ones for their real high rollers. Their loss, not mine.

Peace,

Mitchell


Friday, 2 December 2016

Started Life As A Log, Now It's Flatter...

Yes, I am still working away on my tool bench/cabinet. Yes, it is taking forever. No, I haven't run into any issues to slow things down. No, I haven't always been this slow. Yes, I do expect to finish it by the spring.

This image shows the horrible job I did on the original
millwork. My problem was, the trunks were over
30" across, but the longest chainsaw I
could rent was only 21".
So after a lot of screwing around with floats and sleds, I finally got the Ash slabs thickness and surfaced planed, these slabs came from that 3' section of dead Ash tree trunk that I royally screwed up milling a year ago. It was a bitch of a job and the end boards are a whole lot thinner than I hoped and expected. Its a Ying and Yang thing. The bad part is, the almost 3" slabs ended up having to be surface planed down to 1 1/2". The good part is; my neighbours love me as I ended up with enough chips from the surface planer to cover, not only my own flower gardens with mulch, but half the garden beds on my block as well. You win some as you loose some.

I thought these would take a few years to dry out, but
I didn't take into account that the tree had been
dead for a few years by the time I
got to it.

Did I mention I bought a surface planer? No? Oh. Ok, I bought a surface planer. It is one of those standard 12 1/2" cheap ones that China has been producing since Noah bought the first one to use on the ark's planking. The design has been around forever and just about every tool company has sold them under their brand. I had the same planer when I rebuilt the 40' mahogany cruiser, but it was displaying the Delta brand. I bought this one on sale for $225.00, which is almost half price for one of these up here in the frozen north. It is probably running a 1/4 or a 1/3 horsepower motor and has only two knives instead of three, like the more expensive planers have. If you keep the knives sharp and not try to take more than 1/16" at a pass, it does an acceptable job everywhere but where it snipes, and man, does it snipe.
This particular planer isn't mine. I didn't have one of mine
so I went online and found one that was the same.
This photo belongs to John Heisz at
http://www.ibuildit.ca

I ran each slab through the table saw, following a Sharpe line by eye. At this point I didn't need a true and square edge, I just wanted to cut off the sap wood and bring the widths of each piece down to less than 12" wide so they would go through the planer. I then attached a couple of 2x4s to one surface, adding wedges where needed to make the top surface reasonably level for its entire trip through the planer. I then ran them through the planer - about a thousand times for each piece - and reduced the almost 3" thick slabs down to 1 1/2", doing it less than 1/16" at a time. Once I had the thickness, I then attached each piece to a 4' x 2' piece of 3/4" plywood, hitting the Ash with the screws at their very ends. This gave me a straight edge to run against the fence allowing me to cut one edge straight and square. I then dropped the fence down to 1 1/4" and ran each piece through multiple times, ending up with 7 or 8 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/2" strips from each. Once cut, I ran the lot of them through the surface planer on their sides, and brought the final width down to 1".

All these strips were glued up into a butcher block piece that is 58 5/8" long by 12" wide. Once it was glued up, I ran both sides of it through the planer to level them and brought the thickness down to just a hair under 1 1/4". The planer did a fare job, but I put it on the bench and went at it with my #4 Stanley anyway, taking just enough to give the piece a "ready-for-varnish" finish.

I had one full litre and one half-full litre of oil based Varathane left that I have been hoarding for a few years now, so as I was ready to finish the piece, I popped their tops off. Not only was the opened can a solid hunk of plastic, but so was the what I thought was the unopened one, at least I do not remember opening it. So with no oil base finish left, I had to buy a litre of clear, satin finish Varathane that is water based. Up until now I have hated water based finishes. I tried it a few years ago and found it impossible to work with. Hence the oil based stockpile. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the stuff is pretty good now. It is very slow to build up, but I got very good results with a foam brush. On day one I put four coats on, letting it dry for about an hour between each coat. At the start of the second day, I loaded my orbital sander with 220 grit and gave it a sanding within an inch of its life. It then went back in for four more coats, applied the same way as it was done on day one. Day three started with giving it another what-for with the orbital, and then another four coats. On the forth day I went at it with extra fine steel wool loaded with Minwax Finishing Wax. After three coats of wax, all appied in the same way, it was done, and damn pretty it is.

Twelve coats of Varathane Satin, with a strong
sanding with 220 grit after every fourth coat.
Once the brushwork was done, the surface
was brought down with extra fine steel
wool laced with finishing wax.
So what is this piece? The top of the bench is the same type of glue-up, but it is 24" deep. The three new upper cabinets will hold my saws, planes, and miscellaneous interesting-looking tools, but to do so properly, they will have to be 10 1/2" deep (21" deep closed). I want to put the upper cabinets above the bench, but if I mount them to the bench's top, I will end up with a 13 1/2" deep work area. To increase that work area, I built a stand that is 11" deep that stands behind the bench. This piece is the top for that stand and the upper cabinets will mount to it. As it overlaps the bench top by 1", it will allow me to mount the upper cabinets behind the bench and still have a 21" deep workspace. As some may wonder why I didn't mount the main upper cabinet to the wall, it is too tall. The bench has a finished height of 31", while the upper cabinets are 56" tall, giving a total height of 87", or 7' 3". If I hung them on the wall with the tops against the ceiling, I would end up with 9" of work room between the bench top and the bottom of the cabinets. Hence the separate stand for the uppers.

Next up in a few days is a post about some very cool, home-make, heavy duty leg levellers.

Peace,

Mitchell

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Making A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear...

Last November I did a post on milling some Elm and Ash from logs to planks. You can check it out here.


I had to move the stack of planks I harvested from two trees that were felled last fall. I use the term "plank" rather loosely here, as planks are usually relatively flat, and these are far from that. I didn't mind moving them because it allowed me to check their moisture content and change their sticking order and orientation. What I found was a bit of a surprise.

I thought the Ash wouldn't take much time to dry out because the tree had been standing dead for the past 4 or 5 years. I expected the Elm, however, to still be wet, given the tree it came from was still producing leaves, not very many of them at all, but leaves none the less. As it turned out, they were both dry enough to work.

I moved a couple of the slabs of Elm over to my outdoor workbench and started to have at it. Before I started work, though, I went out and purchased a 12 1/2" surface planer. I love working with hand tools, but I'm not looking to die with a plane in my hand.

After the "some assembly required" part of my new purchase was done, I got to work. I used my Stanley #5 1/2 with its radius blade to waste some wood.



I didn't try to make the surface perfectly flat. Instead, all I wanted to do was even out the surface enough to ensure it wouldn't tilt or twist as it went through the surface planer. Another way of doing this would be to attach some straight scrap pieces to the outside edges of the slab, making sure they project beyond the bottom surface so they act like sleds. If you don't do one or the other, the surface planer will give you a parallel surface on the opposite side, bows, twists, hills and hollows included.


I cut the two slabs cut down to 12" wide with a circular saw and planed both on the surface planer with parallel surfaces. Both slabs ended up being 2" thick. 

I was impressed with the Elm's grain last year when I first saw it after cutting it up with a chainsaw. All the planing only made the grain look even better. I stopped at this point and hauled both slabs into the house and stick stacked them in the living room for a few weeks so they acclimatise.


My plans are to take these slabs down further, to about 1 1/2" or so. I will then glue them together and cut them into a 22" square. I am think of putting a simple, reverse angled egde all around, finishing it in some way that will bring out the grain even more. I want to make the grain the feature of this table, so I am leaning towards mounting it to a 12" clear acrylic cube. Hopefully doing so will make these beautiful pieces of wood look like they are floating off the floor.

Peace,

Mitchell