Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making a Level: Part II

I spent some time this weekend working on the level that I started a couple weeks ago.

This is not a difficult project, but it can take longer than expected if the only shop time you've been getting is somewhere between "none" and "if you blink, you'll miss it."

(I know that all my brothers and sisters in wood can relate.)

I squared up one edge of the wood blank with a handplane.  Referencing off this edge, I marked the layout lines for the mortise that would house the vial. The antique levels I bought came in handy for determining the proper depth and length of the mortise.

I used a drill press to remove the bulk of the waste and squared it up with chisels. Then I used a gouge to round the ends so the mortise matched the shape of the antiques. You can also use a drill bit if you have the appropriate diameter.

The brass top plate became the template for the wood blank which I rough-shaped at the bandsaw.  You can also use a fret, coping, or scroll saw to make the same cuts.

The fastest way I found to remove the majority of the excess wood was with chisels and gouges.  Then, I used sandpaper-wrapped dowels to finalize the shape of the curves. Files worked well on fine-tuning the flat facets.

If you haven't tried shaping wood before, this project is a nice introduction to what many of us find to be a meditative experience.