Tuesday 21 January 2014

I'm Sure I Did This Once...

This is my first time working with recycled wood. There is a tree-hugger out there somewhere that owes me lunch.

This oak originally made up my wife's plant stand, that big monstrosity I made and wrote about a few years ago. It is a long story why this plant stand came to be garbage in a few short years, but to explain it, I'll try to incorporate some brevity, although that certainly isn't my long-suit.

I started making this stand not long after my in-laws had moved in with us. At the time, my wife and her mother had agreed to disagree about everything that encompassed co-existing together in the same domicile. I loved my mother-in-law dearly before she move in with us, and I love her to death now, but the reality is, the poor ol' girl had a childhood, if that is what it could be called, that was more horrific than anything I could ever imagine. Through no fault of her own, what she endured back then had warped her perspective on life, as well as all those within it. As she aged, those issues became magnified and although she barely stands 4' 8", she became a force that is beyond being reckoned with. As a result, my poor wife went through royal hell and back trying to cope with her.

While I always knew my mother-in-law had issues, I agreed to have them move in with us because, having watched her with my wife for over 30-years, I felt the last thing she would ever do was endanger the relationship she had with her daughter. We all make mistakes, I guess. Within a few short months of them moving in I had realized that the situation was unliveable, having come to this conclusion long before my wife was forced to finally admit it to herself, as well as me. At the time I had to think long and hard about what to do about it, and in the end, I chose to do nothing but live within it. That may sound strange, but I came to this conclusion after remembering something I had read a long time ago. It was either an old proverb written on the inside of a pyramid wall, or graffiti, written up high on a bathroom wall, I'm not sure which, but it said; "Lo I say unto you, suffer the man who darest to come between his wife and his mother-in-law, for he shall soon become dead meat", or something similar. OK, this proverb/graffiti story is bullshit, but the message is true. I knew that I had let my wife have her lead and try to ensure that her actions towards her parents were of her own choosing, all made with a rational mind free from anger. If I chose to dissolve the arrangement, guilt would cause her to resent me for it later, and if I let her make rash decisions about it, guilt would cause her to resent herself. I figured that my wife and I would be together long after her parents were gone, so, for me, not doing anything was an investment in that future. As things turned out, all I did for the more than three years we had them with us was to keep my mouth shut and stalled every time she insisted we were throwing them out. It was a long, long three years.

Yes, I remember...brevity...

I didn't build the plant stand because I felt horrible for not being able to "fix it" or to have an excuse to hide. The only reason for creating it was in hope it might give my wife something to escape to. I put it together unfinished, doing so in a way that allowed any or all the pieces to be removed for finishing, giving her a workable product as quickly as possible. I also gave her a crate full of young orchids at the time, so not only did she have somewhere to work, but something to work on. I chose orchids because I had read they were a bitch to grow. The whole thing didn't work as well as I had hoped, but it worked well enough for her to find some diversion with it.

In the end, the health and mental faculties of the two old souls deteriorated to the point where full-time, professional help was needed. My wife and I moved out and left her parents in our condo, letting them live there until they no longer needed it, while we moved into our current home, which has a huge bay window that is just perfect for growing orchids. This made the stand unnecessary, so I tried it for displaying tools on in my office, but because the shelves were few and far between - literally, I chose to disassemble it and keep the wood for another project.

Just to finish the story, in case you might be interested, my wife's parents moved out of the condo a few months ago, taking up residence in a full-care retirement home. As I write this, my mother-in-law, bless her heart, is in the hospital suffering with a blood clot which the doctors are having a devil of a time locating so they can remove it. My wife is very slowly getting her wits back again and is currently staying at the retirement home with her father, ensuring that his dementia doesn't overtake his emotions caused by his wife not being around. And me, I'm relieved everything turned out for the best and I am currently removing the stained, varnished and steelwool-rubbed waxed finish off of the hacked up boards that once made up that plant stand so I can use them to build a portable vise. Sad, really.

Sad, and a bitch of an amount of work. I've stripped wood before, but only with chemicals. This time I chose to scrap the finish down to bare wood with a paint scrapper, resulting in all the surfaces needing to be re-trued. I didn't start out this way. I first sharpened a trashed blade for this purpose, but found the finish was so thick and slippery, the blade just skated across the board, removing zero to very little in the process. I had no choice but to go the scrapper route, discovering that it took an hour to do both sides of one 26-inch board. Given the stack you see in the background of the photo, I figure I'll be preparing stock for the next month and not much else, hence my opening statement about the tree-hugger that owes me lunch.



Saturday 18 January 2014

What Really Defines a Canadian...

I'm not sure which defines me more as a Canadian; the fact that I had to shovel snow and chip ice off my deck and outdoor workbench so I could rip all this recycled oak down to width, or that I have been bitching about how I froze my butt off doing it to anyone who will listen ever since?



Wednesday 15 January 2014

I Just Have To Mess With It...

If the projects I currently have on my plate were actual food, I'd be a bloody glutton. Here is what I am milling wood for today...

This is a remake of the plans for a portable vise that I have been mucking with for the past few months. As you can see, I never know when to leave things the hell alone.

First, thanks to Anonymous, whoever and which one he is, it is now being made of red oak, recycled red oak to be exact. As it turns out, it is surprisingly light for its strength and ability to take a beating.

Second, the vise bed hasn't changed much except it is now going to be constructed out of ¾" stock because that is what I have a ton of in my little material stash.

Third, I am adding a shoot board to one side of it. Only time will tell if this is brilliant or idiotic, but I came up with this because of a revelation I had the other night - I'm getting seriously lazy in my old age. I expect to use this vise as much as I do my makeshift shooting board, so if I make two separate units, I would have twice as much to carry. 

Forth, because I have learned the hard way that shooting boards require some sort of adjustment ability on their fences because, for a multiple number of reasons, they get out of whack occasionally, I'm adding one here. The three items at the bottom-left of the line-drawing show three views of the adjustable fence. It is a pretty simple design, actually. This mental-midget brainwave has six parts. 
  • Two brass pins that match the dog-holes in the vise, made out of brass because a leap of faith told me they might last longer than wood pins, but also because I can drill down their length and tap them.
  • Two bolts; one that will act as a pivot for the adjustments and another to hold the adjustment for, hopefully, longer than one or two plane runs.
  • One 1¾" x 1¾" strip of oak that has the brass pins attached to it so it acts as the anchor for the fence.
  • One 3" x 2½" strip of oak that has a wedge shaped cut-out that fits over the lower strip of oak, giving a ½" of adjustment at one end while being fixed in place at the pivot end.
The only other thing I can add to it is the vise will have 2-across dog holes from the head of the vise to just beyond where the screw and stabilizers end. From that point to the end of the vise there will be 4 dog holes across the width of the bed. While these holes may be used to secure stock, they are really there for the fence, allowing me to move it quite a bit forward so the plane has travelling space after the stock and I won't have to reach as far while using it. It also allows me to move the pins that hold the fence outboard so they can better take the beating I am expecting to give them. Also, the bed that the shoot plane will travel along is ramped downwards 1¼". Research has told me that there isn't any advantage to a ramped shoot board but I am going to ramp this one simply because I think it will allow the blade wear to be spread over a wider area, increasing its use between blade sharpenings.

Lastly, the plans do not show any bench hooks but that is because I haven't quite finalized how I'm going to add movable hooks. If I can move them, I can set the thing up to work from either side or end of the bench.

Only time will tell if this is brilliance or bullshit, so we will have to see. I'm heading to the outside bench today to freeze my butt off while ripping a bunch of 5" wide oak down to 4". Hopefully this project won't take as long as those damned blade retainers I am also currently making for a frame saw. I thought I could bang them off quite quickly, but it isn't quite the job I thought it would be. So far I have the threads cut on the blade tightener, but that is about it. Because my lathe isn't set up yet, I had to hand-file ⁵⁄₈" square brass stock down to ½" round...



Monday 6 January 2014

Up, Up and Away...I Hope...

Am I imagining things, or are the prices of planes going up?

I have been pondering this possibility for a while now. I think the online dealers' prices have been slowly creeping up over the past couple of months and while the typical eBay junk is still the same,  the eBay dealers' prices are also climbing a bit. I thought maybe it was my imagination, but after having a gander at Leach's preverbal tool list this morning, I'm starting to waver between possible and probable.

Here's a few examples that have caused me to firm up my opinion a bit...
ST12 #2 smoothing plane; a cleaned ca. 1900 example, with a 1930's iron, a no-harm bruise at toe, lever cap is a #3 ground narrower to fit the plane, it's a solid worker in all regards, and priced for someone who doesn't wish to pay the MSRP of a pristine example; top right: http://www.supertool.com/forsale/jan/t17.jpg - $175.00
I also came across one of these on eBay this morning that was a tad rough around the edges, but over-all not a bad type 7 that an eBay dealer was selling for $295.00.

I have two of these, both bought from dealers and both graded on the cusp of excellent-workers and good-collectors. One I paid $45.00 for and the other, $125.00, both within the last 5 years.
ST68 #7 jointer; a type 11, with all original parts, made ca. WWI, no damage, nicely cleaned, 90% japanning, all it needs is honing; bottom: http://www.supertool.com/forsale/jan/t128.jpg - $185.00
I bought a type 7 three years ago from a dealer for $175 and its condition is so good, I thought it was still under warranty.

As an aside, Patrick had one listing that really firmed up my decision to never buy a No.1...
ST51 #1 smoothing plane, damage, offered for parts; the nose section snapped off, it has a good "STANLEY" embossed lever cap, sweetheart logo iron and cap iron, and frog; top of tote is gone; the front section can be ground clean to make it a chisel plane, or you can grab parts off it for your plane; top left: http://www.supertool.com/forsale/jan/t107.jpg - $345.00
A couple of years ago another dealer had a box for a No.1 listed for $1400.00 - just the box. Now Patrick has the back half of one listed for $345.00. I get the rarity of this plane is what drives the price, but still...sheesh. The only reason it is rare is that no woodworker worth his salt wanted one of these silly little things when they were new.

By the way, if you aren't getting them already, you can sign up to receive Patrick's SuperTool monthly lists by emailing him at leach@supertool.com.

So is it possible that plane prices are creeping up? I'm still not sure because that isn't supposed to happen. There has been an unbelievable number of vintage planes that have been dumped on the market over the past few years, mainly coming from collectors who are liquidating, or from their heirs who want nothing to do with a bunch of old tools. When supply outstrips demand, prices fall, so how can inflationary prices exist in the market? If it is happening...cool.

This probably isn't the time to mention this, but I am still looking for a good type 7 No. 6 Stanley, and if anyone knows a screw from another plane that will work to holding a Stanley No.386 fence to a plane, I would appreciate you letting me know. Finding replacement thumb screws for this fence is a real bugger.

I had to stop working on the mount for my Stanley No. 50 because I want to tie it into the mount for my No.51 that is going to run up beside it. Here is where it stands today with the template for a layout for its mates...

It really was a difficult plane to design a mount for, which ended up with more dips and dives than I expected. The entire thing is made from a glue-up of walnut with all the grains running vertical.

Here is the plane head-on. With all its bits and bobs, it is 3" wide, but because the widest part of the actual plane body is the tote that is slightly thicker than ¾", there is a lot of empty space around it, making the mount look like a 1950's era continental kit...

Because I have a lot of resawing to do for this project, I decided it was time to make the Frame-Saw I bought blades for about 4-years ago, so that will be what I will be posting about next. Because I do not have my lathe up and running, I'm currently rounding off parts of some ⁵⁄₈" square brass stock by hand so I can thread them. I should have photos and my usual verbal diarrhea about them up within the week.