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.


Dyami Plotke said...

That's going to be one hot level when you're done with it. Job well done.

Also, you are correct that I (and many others) can relate. No shop time has this boy getting cranky.

Keep up the good work.

Jim B said...

Very nice!

And thanks Kari for taking some of your very limited shop time to document the process for us.

TJIC said...

Looking great! Can't wait for the next update.

Did I miss the part where you explained where the brass plate came from? Did you cut that out yourself, or purchase it?

Kari Hultman said...

Dyami, I get cranky, too, without shop time. I believe the actual term applied to me by Nancy is "grump*ss."

Jim, my pleasure. :o)

TJIC, you can see how I cut out the brass blank on the first post about this level:

Vic Hubbard said...

Looking very nice, Kari! I finally was in the shop today. But, I was doing a little metal work, making a handle out of round aluminum stock for one of Sylvia's favorite grease guard lids. The old one was plastic. Cheap c##p!! It gave me the reason to finally bring in a really old anvil I bought from a friend years ago. It came over on the wagon trains!! Very cool and about 150lbs. My back is sore now.

A.J. Hamler said...

Very nice! I see you've swapped out those Phillips screws for slotted. Excellent.

Kari Hultman said...

Vic, that's a cool anvil with an interesting past (thanks for sending me the photo).

A.J., it looks much better now for sure. It's sort of funny that screws can make such a difference in its appearance.

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - nice job, some difficult shaping to do there at the ends. A good exercise in hand tool work, great to see also that you've got hold of some proper slotted brass screws - Rob

Chod Lang said...

Imagine how great it would be if we could live in a contemplative, creative, and skillful way...a create beauty AND utility.

Keep up the good work Kari.


Steven D said...

Isn't building your own tools great? It is a great way to get some quick time in the shop even when short for time. It is also budget wise. Get a good tool for less and usually an inexpensive project.

Al said...

A lovely contrast between the sharp lines of the brass plate and smooth wood. Beautifully made.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Rob. I love shaping wood even though it takes awhile. I bought the screws from Lee Valley, but other places carry them, as well.

Thanks, Chod. :o)

I agree, Steven. It's incredibly rewarding to make your own tools. And once you've made one, you start looking for others you can make.

Thanks, Al. I'm anxious to see what it looks like once there's finish on the cherry and it's had a chance to darken with time.