Sunday, 31 January 2010

Don't Scoff - It Works...

I ended up with a few scoffs regarding my Stanley Number 3 iPhone Dock. Oh well. It certainly isn't the first time my ideas were scoffed at and I would bet the family jewels it won't be the last.

The thing is, while this started out as a bit of a joke and a reason for working with a hunk of wood for a few hours, the results far exceed the original concept.

Most phone docks are made out of plastic which makes them light, so using the phone while it is recharging is truly a royal pain in the butt. Fixing this little hunk of carved wood to the plane using earth magnets resulted in:
  • a solid base that is not easily knocked over or unwittingly repositioned
  • using the phone while its charging isn't a problem as the fixture stays in place and the phone comes away easily
  • because the cord stays connected, there is no issue using it while it is charging because the charge connection isn't broken
  • removing the phone, charging or not, is done one-handed, something I found impossible with the commercially offered docks
  • it is a damned nice looking thing to have sitting on my desk, far better than a hunk of plastic that would otherwise be there
So yes, it did start out as a joke, but in the end, it turned out to be one of the most serviceable, not to mention attractive things that I have sitting on my desk.



Sunday, 24 January 2010

So here is my "What is it?"...

So here is my "What is it?", which took about six hours to produce...

I followed the plans up to a point and then I started to wing it. For me, the winging it part makes the exercise much more enjoyable. Using a hunk of applewood I had left over from a saw handle I had made a couple of years ago, I cut it up to match the plans' dimensions, leaving a whole lot more at the top end so I would have a bit to clamp the thing to the bench with. I then got out the chisels and gouges and set off making a pile of chips. Half way through I decided to incorporate the extra wood I had at the top for no other reason that it was there.

Two 1/2" earth magnets were let into the back to hold it in place when it is being used.

When I was done, I smoothed things out with 100 grit, then 150 grit, and then gave it a good rub down with 220 grit. So far it has received two coats of Minwax Finishing Wax applied with #000 steel wool. Over the next week or so I'll apply another seven or eight coats or so, going through the grits of steel wool, applying the final couple of coats with #0000.

I learned two things during this exercise. First, applewood is a female dog to work with as there are so many small knots and grain directions, you can't help but get tear-out no matter what you do. The second thing I learned is that I seriously need some carving lessons. Too bad Kari lives so far away.

So what, exactly, does this thing do? Click on the links below and check it out...



Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Stanley No. 1 - Rationalizing the Unrationable...

Scarcity drives the prices and because some tools were not very popular during the hand tool heyday, their prices today far exceed those that were more popular. The Stanley No. 1 plane is a very good example of this. While cute, a term that should never be able to describe a tool, the reality is, very few woodworkers wanted one.

In 1934, a brand new, shiny No. 1 sold for the incredible price of $2.95. Most, back then, chose to purchase its bigger brother, the No. 4, even though it sold for a whole lot more at $4.20. This, of course, brings up the question; if just about everyone thought a particular plane wasn’t worth the money in 1934, why would I want one now?

The answer, of course, is obvious - because I can.

Because the average worker didn’t want one of these way back when, today a collector would have to part with over $1500 for a good example of one. That is a huge amount of cash for an unusable plane, its value putting it in that “never-touch-wood” category, rather than the fact that it is just not a comfortable tool to work with. Its big brother, though, is now the poor relative, selling for less than $150 a pop because good examples of them are a dime a dozen.

So if I am having these issues over paying that kind of money for the actual plane, image how I felt when I came upon this in’s offerings today...

I can pretty much sum up what I am talking about here using the old credit card company's advertising catch-phrase:

The plane - $1500.00

The box it came in - $2700.00

The ability to justify the cost of both to your wife – Priceless



Tuesday, 19 January 2010

It Would Be Nice To Keep It In The Family...

Fascinating, yet frustrating stuff, this tool-collecting thing.

I was walking through the first tool fair I ever attended two springs ago and came across a beautiful little fret saw that I fell in love with immediately. For 35 bucks, it was mine and I was thrilled to death to have it, as it really was a beautiful little thing.

A while later, I came across its big brother on eBay. It had the exact same turned handle, the exact same metalwork and the exact same thumbscrews that hold the blade and the sliding adjuster. Man, I thought I died and went to heaven, especially when it became mine for the mere sum of $9.99 plus postage.

I have seen other exact matches to these two since, but none seem to be in as good of condition as mine, so I let them pass. There have also been a couple that had the same frame, same handle, same thumbscrews, but have the added feature of a blade tensioner at the font of the frame. The first one I missed, forgetting about the eBay listing ending while I was out spending money on other silly things with my wife; dumb things like food and gas for the car. There is a match to it listed currently, but the seller has it at one of those, “give your head a shake” Buy-It-Now prices.
As an update to this, I emailed the seller of this saw asking if we could work out a better price, walking on eggshells throughout it so not to insult the guy. What I got back could only be described as disgustingly rude and arrogant, so much so that I was happy we couldn't come to terms because I wouldn't want to deal with the likes of the eBay seller; Miliki's Shed from Southwest Iowa.
It is ok, though. I have the little guy and his big brother, and I am happy with that, or at least I was until my morning constitution yesterday, it being a cruise through to see what his daily listings were. My God! There, in all its warm tones of browns, peering back at me from my monitor, was these two guys’ great-great grandfather. It blew me away.

Have a look at "me boys" granddaddy…

Now have a look at “me boys”…

Pretty similar, aren’t they.

I immediately packed off an email to Jim asking if there were indeed related, and he came back at me with the affirmative, stating that the gens were the same, mine being how the design for the saw evolved over the years to bring down the production costs and his being the original.

This saw design keeps popping up in my life over and over again. The Lee Valley Collection has one and so does the Sindelar Museum, their site, I just discovered, no longer being accessible. Many of the examples I have seen lately were made by different American manufacturers, although the original producer is believed to be German. Most of the early 20
th century examples by the original manufacturer, like mine, have no markings except for some have a number cut into them in odd places. Later versions have either “Made in Germany” or “W. Germany” stamped on them. Other “knock-offs” have different and assorted manufacturers’ names stamped on them, even Brookstone getting in on this act.

Rob Cosman, of the dovetail fame, offers a fret saw for removing waste when cutting these joints in 3 minutes or less, and his saw is based on Jim’s granddaddy saw. I asked Rob about it a week or so ago and he stated that he brings them in from a manufacturer located here in Ontario, Canada, but that was all the information about them he could give.

I have run into a number of these saws over the past two years, and asked each one if they know the name of the manufacturer. Sadly, no-one knows and only answer, “I believe it is German”. It is too bad that such a fine toolmaker has to go down as being an unknown.

You can bet your sweet petunia that I want that granddaddy saw. I have been salivating on my monitor since first seeing it, as that image you see above is currently my desktop wallpaper. The problem I have is that over the last couple of weeks I have purchased a few planes, a float and a couple of squares, and they have blown my tool budget for this month. FRUSTRATINGGGGGGGGGG.



Thursday, 14 January 2010

Shooting Board - The Ramp - Part 3

The third in this series is a focus on the Adjustable Ramp for this pie-in-the-sky Shooting Board I want to build.

To even out the dulling of the plane blade, I like the idea of a ramped runway. The bonus of this is a skewed blade. What I don't like is the idea of either having to live with the ramp in all applications or having to make two Shooting Boards. Hence the Adjustable Ramp.

Here is the results of my efforts to come up with something that is workable in all configurations...

My grade 5 math teacher taught me that any angle divided into two can be made into a right angle by flipping one section, so I applied that theory to this ramp. First I defined the heights to have the bottom of the plane blade strike the stock just above its lower edge at the start of the runway, and did the same for it at the Shooting Board's fence. This gave me the angle. I then completed the piece by giving it a flat bottom. I then divided it into two equal pieces.

As the plane is going to run in tracks, it means that the top piece requires two sets of them; one set for the plane to run at the angle, and another for it to run when this piece is flipped to produce a flat runway. This meant I had to find the sweet measurement that would allow enough stock to let the tracks into both top and bottom surfaces, yet keep the Shooting Board's height to an absolute minimum. The result is an overall height of 4 1/2".

I'm still searching for some hardware that will allow quick, but solid assembly and disassembly. There must be something out there.

So this is the basis of the project, which still needs some fine-tuning before any wood is cut. If anyone has any comments, observations or advice, I'd love to hear it.



Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Shooting Board - The Bird's House - Part 2...

One of the things I would like to see this Shooting Board have is an Adjustable Bird's House so to that end, here is the first-off design of what I have in mind.

To control the angle of the working platform, I came up with a simple scissor jack that works by a screw. Turn the screw one way and the two scissor arms come together and the end of the platform rises. Turn it the other way and the opposite happens. Easy Peasy.

Where the problems arise is in the fence to register the work square to the Shooting Board. If the fence is cut at 45° at its working end, when the platform drops, that angle reduces as well, resulting in it not fully supporting the stock being planed. This, I believe, will result in tear out, so it was an issue that had to be addressed.

To overcome this, I came up with the idea of fixing a vertical piece to the base, a piece that wouldn’t move when the angle of the working platform is changed. When I first came up with this, I discounted it because I thought with it only being fixed at the bottom it wouldn’t be able to take the pounding of the plane blade. I then realized, after a bit more thought, that the Bird’s House will be clamped (how, I don’t know yet) to the Shooting Boards fixed fence, so by adding that support, I think this idea will work.

Then the issue of keeping a two-piece fence registered with each other came up. The adjustable fence will not be supported by the Shooting Boards fence, and while there will not be a lot of pressure on this part, I figured something should be done to ensure a square register of the stock at all angles.

My plan for this calls for cutting a 1/8” slot in both parts of the fence which will accommodate a 1/8” by 3” piece of brass plate. The plate would be fixed to the adjustable part and float in the fixed part, registering them together, I hope, when things start to move.

This project is starting to look like it is going to be a blast as now not only does it involve woodworking, but also some rather cool metal work as well.

What Is It?

Here are the plans for my “What Is It?” challenge again...

I’ll give you a hint. If you are into the latest technology as well as old tools, this “thing” will be right up your alley.



Sunday, 10 January 2010

Shooting Board - Part 1...

Like all the rest of the crazies that get involved with this vintage tool hobby, I have decided to build a plane. Along with this, The Blogbloke has convinced me that a Shooting Board is just the ticket so I decided to combine the two; designing and building a Shooting Board first, then make a dedicated plane for it after. Is there no end to my masochism?

So far, I have come up with some basic dimensions and an idea of how I would like to construct it.

So with this, I have officially started putting together the design for the Shooting Board, but not just any Shooting Board; a Shooting Board to end either all Shooting Boards, or me, whichever comes first.

Here are the “must haves” that need to be included in the final results:
  • Combine esthetics with functionality
  • Adjustable Runway angle (ramp or parallel)
  • A Mitre Fence and a Bird’s House or Donkey’s Ear
  • Functional for end and edge grained stock
  • Heavy construction
Some “I would like” considerations:
  • The esthetics should be “out there” a little bit
  • Ramped Runway should angle down on the stock
  • All attachments should attach quickly but firmly, with no movement
  • Designed and built for the “long-haul”
While I have a few rough drawings of the plane, I do know it will have:
  • 12° blade angle
  • 2 5/8” wide blade
  • Runs in twin slot extrusions that will be let in to the Runway similar to the Stanley No. 51 & 52
As I mentioned earlier, The Blogbloke convinced me that a Shooting Board was the way to go through this article…
Then Derek Cohen over on In The Woodshop added to it with this posting…
Then Stephen, over on the FullChisel blog, threw some more usable information into the mix with…

The irony in building a Shooting Board is having to shoot the stock for it without a Shooting Board.

What Is It?

And while we are on the subject of plans, here is a section of a plan I recently finished for a separate project I am doing. If you click here, the full plan will display. Any idea what this is?