Friday, June 24, 2011

Frame Saw Progress

Moving along with the frame saw project—once you cut the mortise and tenons for the arms (what I'm calling the horizontal boards that hold the blade) and stretchers, it's time to work on the blade-holding mechanism.

One end of the blade will be held in place with a lag screw (minus its head). The other end will have a carriage bolt.

Both the screw and bolt need to be sawn down the middle along the last inch or so of their lengths. Then you need to drill a hole through them that lines up with the holes that are located at each end of the blade. (The blade that I bought from Highland Hardware had holes, otherwise, you'll have to drill them yourself.)

These sets of holes are for crosspins, or screws, or nails—whatever you'd like to use to keep the blade from falling out of the frame.

You need to cut the head off the lag screw so you can add a washer and nut to that end. By tightening the nut, the blade is tensioned.

At the other end of the frame is a carriage bolt that does not need to move.  After I drilled the hole in the arm for the carriage bolt, I squared up the top of the hole so the carriage bolt can drop down into it, locking it in place.

At this point, you have a workable saw that will be murder on your hands.

Now comes the fun part: shaping the arms and stretchers to make the saw more comfortable to use and easier on the eyes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fear: The Great Motivator

A few weeks ago during a lightning storm, we lost the top half of a huge pine tree that separates our yard from our neighbor's. It fell smack dab in the middle of her backyard—no damage. Whew.

Our other neighbor, who loves physical labor and was an ox in a former life, offered to chop it up for her with his chainsaw.

And I offered to make everyone rustic window boxes.

As you may know, I'm a wee bit terrified of lathes. But there's another tool to which I afford a wide berth: chainsaws. Maybe I watched too many slasher movies as a kid. Or maybe I'm just a big sissy, but I don't go near them.

No problem. I figured I'd slice the logs up on my bandsaw and everyone would have a window box by the end of the day.

Well. The logs were big and unwieldy, and my bandsaw blade isn't as sharp as it should be, so that plan fell flat on its face.

Now what?  I could use a handsaw but that would take forever, and I'm no masochist. My form of self-flagellation is to forgo dessert.

I could use a chainsaw, but (refer to above statement).

No, if I couldn't use a bandsaw, then I was going to cut the logs by hand somehow. That meant building a frame saw.

Fortunately, there are lots of bloggers who have chronicled the process. I'm following their lead in building my own.  Here is one link.  Here is another.  And here is one more.

I'm planning to include the handles like those found in the Roubo print and hope it doesn't add too much time to building the saw.  I need to get to those logs, which are lying in my yard, before my chainsaw-loving neighbor gets any funny ideas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chris Schwarz-enegger

On this, the day after Chris Schwarz' 43rd birthday, and the day before his last day as editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine, I'd like to thank him for making such a positive impact on the woodworking world.

To the man who was one of the catalysts for the current hand tool renaissance; whose midas touch sets off waves of orders to many a one-man toolmaking business; and who possesses boundless enthusiasm for woodworking and a penchant for writing humorous and informative articles and books....

Happy (belated) Birthday and All The Best To You, Big Guy.

WIA: On Your Mark, Get Set....


If you're planning to go to Woodworking in America this year, don't wait to register. Classes fill up quickly as do the evening activities.

If you've attended in the past, check your email before registering. I believe they're giving a discount to past event-goers.

Looks like another great line up of topics, speakers, and market place exhibitors.

See ya there!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There, I fixed it!

You might wonder why there are circular troughs surrounding each of the bench holes on my workbench.  They are the result of me swinging the arm of my desk lamp around as the light needs to be shifted.

The plastic clamp portion of the lamp had broken long ago and I am too frugal to buy another, so I just stick the metal post in a bench hole and get to work.

Over the years, the metal post has begun eating away at the holes, so the desk lamp has become less supported and refuses to stand upright.

Today, I had had enough and decided to build a quickie holder that could slide along the back edge of my bench.

I figured it would keep me from my project for about half an hour.

More than an hour later and with much fiddling, I'd come up with a lego-like contraption that works, but is rather unsightly.

I sandwiched a spacer block between two 2x4s and stuck the lamp post in a hole that I drilled into one of the boards. When I angled the lamp to one side to test it, the entire assembly tipped along with it.

That meant adding another piece that would wrap beneath the back edge of my bench, but the 2x4 in the back was too short to reach the bottom of the apron.

So, I had to add another thin board beneath the 2x4 before adding the final piece that would hook the holder in place.

It's pretty ugly. But it does work.

Which reminds me of another "There, I fixed it!" story.

Our garden hose had started to leak pretty badly where the nozzle is attached, so I went to the store to buy plumber's tape. I did not fix it right away, a few hours went by, and my partner came in from the yard to tell me she'd fixed the hose.  She then proclaimed, "That tape is so lame. It's not even sticky!"

I went to inspect her handiwork and found this:

I kinda wished she had asked me how to use plumber's tape before she fixed our leaky garden hose. 

But, it does work. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Handplanes: 2 Reasons to Own One

Sure, there are more than two reasons to own one or more handplanes. But if you work primarily with power tools and do not plan to unplug your shop in the near future, here are two benefits for adding a handplane to your tool arsenal.

Have you ever experienced burn marks on the edge of your boards from your table saw? Some wood species such as cherry and maple are prone to it.

You could take a pass on your power jointer to remove the marks; you could sand for, oh, about half an hour (and hope you don't round over the edges); or, you could take three micro-thin swipes with a handplane.

There's nothing wrong with using a power jointer (I still use one), but what if the board has reverse grain and you get tear-out no matter which way you run the board through?

That's also where a handplane shines.  You can tackle the edge of a board from both ends to eliminate the problem of reverse grain.

Today I was milling boards for a new project and experienced both burning and tearing.  I reached for Devereau, my jointer plane, and hoped she was in a good mood.

She was.

She was even downright delightful as she whisked away the blemishes. Good girl, Dev. You escaped the burn pile again. Ha, just kidding.



You can also use a card scraper, cabinet scraper, or scraper plane for these two problems, but planes have many more uses than those listed above.