Wednesday 16 October 2013

Hold This For Me, Will Ya?...

I have been messing about with wood on temporary benches for who knows how long now. I have used everything from a few planks spread across a couple of old oil drums to working off of one of those silly "Workmate" things. Since moving out of the condo and into a house a year-and-a-half ago, things have slowly gotten better. My tool cabinet is still with me and continues to sit in my office. It has a nice little worktop that is just the cat's behind when it comes to height and I don't have to travel far to get my hands on the tool I need. This spring, I built a large, heavy bench out of pressure-treated lumber that sits outside on our backyard patio. It is great for doing the slug-work like facing boards and ripping planks, but it does require schlepping the tools I need back and forth. I wouldn't trade that piece of shit for the best Schwarz-built bench he has to offer, though, because that would mean I would have to work inside and that, I'm afraid, ain't for me. For me, this is the perfect set-up. When the weather is nice, I'm out working in the open air and when it isn't, I'm tucked away in my office working on bits and pieces and messin' with things that don't produce much dust or need much room.

I have learned one major lesson while building these fussy, little mounts, though - I need a damned vise. Yesterday I was trying to flatten the face of a piece for the No.10½ plane mount. The stock was about 12" long, 2½" wide, which I can handle with a bit a fussing. What drove me to drink, though, was its thickness. Being ³⁄₈" thick on one side and 1" on the other called for some serious gymnastics to not only get it held down, but held down in such a way as to allow the plane to travel the full length of the stock without hitting anything. What a royal pain in the butt. I got it done, but afterwards I realized that I hadn't enjoyed it one bit, and if I'm not enjoying it, why the hell am I doing it?

Faced with the reality that I needed a vise, I had to figure out what to do about it. Both worktops call for a removable style of vise. There is no sense mounting one permanently on the bench outside as the rain and snow would destroy it in a season and mounting one on the tool cabinet would severely limit its use, not to mention killing a good portion of my work area. If I did go with a removable style, the only type I know of are the metal cast variety, which I'm not fond of from an aesthetic standpoint. I also know the edges of my planes and chisels wouldn't be to happy about working around one either, given what a klutz I am.

What I decided I needed was a small, portable vise made of wood with its main function being facing boards, especially the smaller, oddly-shaped ones that I seem to be involved with so much lately.

This is what I came up with...

Once I had an idea of what I wanted and how it had to be built, I took a look at the tools I already have. I have a set of old thread cutters, the largest of which is 1", so the single, centre screw is 1" in diameter. My little lathe holds a maximum of 15" stock, so the screw in its entirety, is 14½" long. Because it can't add too much height to the benches it will be attached to, I decided to limit it to 2¾" high. To keep the face square, I added two ¾" maple dowels on either side to help keep it aligned. I settled on an overall size of 25½" by 12" and included two rows of dog holes which should allow it to hold all the weird and wild-shaped pieces of stock I have been coming up with at late. The big question is, what is the easiest way to attach it to the bench? At this point, I plan to just add a couple of cut-outs on either side to accept the heads of regular clamps, but I'll have a look around this weekend to see if there is something less cumbersome about. I have ordered the stock in beech and should be picking it up within a week or two. I'll keep you posted how I make out with it.

In truth, I'm looking forward to getting at it and finally working wood without the added frustrations of not having anything to hold it.

As usual, if anyone has an idea they would like to share with me about this, I'd be truly grateful.



Saturday 12 October 2013

That'll Work...

I have been moving along on the tool cabinet, this time, hopefully, in the right direction.

The mount for the accessories for the Stanley 72 plane is assembled and shaped and the 72's mount, which I posted about after it was assembled, has been shaped as well. Here is the end results...

The plane mount is 2¼" deep with a top surface that is ½" higher in front than it is in back so the plane leans into the cabinet. It has a connected back for mounting that is at right angles to the base so the plane has something solid to lean on. Both pieces were ripped to the angle.

Three other plane mounts are tied into this mount below it, one for the No.2 and the other two currently used for 2 identical block planes. The centre slot is for a No.1, if I ever decide that I want it. At a $1000-plus, I am happy that I don't want it right now, but I may change my mind about that in the future, so I kept my options open.

I glued a gusset to the underside of the base and the lower portion of the back that was 1" by 1" strip of walnut ripped at 45°. Using a 1" round plane, I turned it into a congé, which I think is the right term for this type of moulding.

I thought it might be a bit of a pain to place the plane in the mount, but it isn't. I just have to drop the toe of the plane into it and slide it forward until the frog hits home under its capture, which registers it so the heel just falls into place behind the heel-block when I drop it down. It is not as techie as I had originally perceived these mounts to be, but by the look of it, it works.

The two accessory mounts were also tied to two upper mounts for planes mounted below them; the No.4 and the No.3. These were made out of three pieces each, one 1" thick and two 3/8" thick. The render below shows how the assembly and shape was handled. Once the two mounts were assembled, they were glued together and the 1" round was used to create the congé.

You can see in the photo that the right mount is for the Beader attachment, while the left is for the Bullnose. I don't own the Bullnose yet, but I am looking. I will also mention that I have an extra "B-cast" standard toe that I'd like to sell, so if any of you are interested, please get in touch. I looked at the standard toe and realized that all Stanley did was modify the forward portion of the casting for it to make the bullnose, or at least I hope they did, otherwise this mount isn't going to work when I finally come up with one.

These attachments "hang" on the large wing nut that is used to connect them to the plane body. These wing nuts have a large collar cast in them, just above the threads, and it is that collar that rests in the slots cut into the mountings' faces. It works well, holds the piece securely, and results in the pieces being displayed in full. The shot below shows the mounts with the extra standard toe as a stand-in. I am counting on the bullnose not hanging down as far as this standard toe does.

I will revisit the Stanley No.10½ mount again, creating a new one that matches this design. Hopefully, I won't run into another "What the #$!@???" again, but I'm not counting on that either.



Friday 4 October 2013

Has It Ever Happened To You...

How many of you have encountered the "What the #$!@???"

This situation doesn't happen very often, I'm sure, but I don't think there is a woodworker out there who hasn't had to face it once or twice over the course of being involved with this hobby. Some, like me, face it more often then they would care to admit.

You head out to the shop, or wherever it is you do your woodworking, to put the last finishing touches on your latest project, or part thereof. If it is a difficult one, your chances of meeting up with it are far more likely than with the simple builds. The more hours you spent on it, getting to the point of being near completion, the higher the chances. You walk in and more than the project is waiting for you. You anxiously look at the result of your hours of toil and...wham!
"What the blankety-blank-blank was I thinking?" 
There is no other way to describe it; you come face to face with the fact that the job that you spent so long designing and so lovingly creating, actually looks like shit!

I ran into this with the mount for the Stanley No.10½, the one I had pondered about for the last year, the one I spent a few weeks on tweaking the design, the one I spent the better part of almost 7-days building and refining, and the one I posted pictures of for the world to see here on my blog.

The day after I posted those photos I thought I would take an hour or so to finish up shaping it and getting it to the point where I could finish sand it. I walked into my office, looked at it, and actually thought my wife had snuck in during the night and changed it on me. The proportions were out of whack, the slider hung out the end like a mis-placed shirt-tail, and the brackets were silly and incorrectly placed. I couldn't believe I could build such a thing, let alone design it.

My first thought was to modify it, but that wouldn't help the proportions, so I knew coming up with something different was the only way to go. Because this cabinet includes a small work area at the top of its base that will, hopefully, be used often, these tools have to endure a bit of shaking around and stay in the mount when they do. That was the reason for the sliding dovetail lock, but I started to think I may be over-building here. I tried a few experiments and found that it didn't take much of a lean backwards to keep the tool from falling forward. I then calculated that if I keep the tool from moving side to side, a ½" lean over a 2½" base was enough to hold it in place through anything short of a hurricane. I was surprised, given I built the cabinet itself with a ½" forward lean over its 6' height. I did this to counter the weight that the tools add to the back wall of it. With this new information, off I went to make some sawdust.

The mount I decided to make was for my Stanley 72, and this is what I came up with...
It has only been cut and assembled, and not shaped yet, other than the fillet across the bottom of the shelf to help support it. I'll keep at it and make the two additional pieces as well; one for the beading attachment and one for the bullnose. Once these are done, I'll post a bunch of photos and talk about it a bit more.

I just wanted to get this one image up to show those who thought, "What the #$!@ was he thinking?"