Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bench build

Removing cup with the scrub plane
As with any woodworker the workbench is the center of activity and a good flat work bench is not essential but highly desirable. Much can be done with saw horses, 2x4s and other make do techniques but there is nothing more satisfying than having a nice slab top flat piece of wood on which to work.

The bench I used initially in my shed consisted of a steel frame with three 50x200x2000 slabs on top bolted to the frame with coach bolts. I mounted a 8" dawn vice on the front and drilled dog holes to clamp larger pieces. When I moved in to my current house all of the benches were inches high with rubbish, junk, tools and miscellaneous paraphernalia. After cleaning it off I discovered cupped, twisted and warped boards. This served as my bench for about three years before I became annoyed enough to want to do something better.

Small flattening jig
A few months ago I purchased a cache of hand tools including a Veritas quick release end vice for an excellent price. The problem is that it requires a flat bench with an apron, which I did not have. Time for some reconstructive surgery. The veritas quick release vice is more or less a mechanism that screws under the bench to which you can secure a slab of wood the same cross sectional area as your apron. You then drill dog holes in the top and side which gives you three methods of holding wood. First between the jaw and the apron. Thus you can hold long pieces such as stretchers for cutting tenons. Then using dogs along the top of the bench for planing for instance. Finally along the face using dogs to plane edges to to chop mortices.

Apron glue up
I began surfacing the slabs of the bench top by using a scrub plane to remove the bulk of the twist cup and warp. I made a small flattening jig to flatten each board. In the mean time I used some (what I think is) meranti timbers recovered from the house renovations jointed, glued and re-jointed for the apron and end vice jaw. I used the thicknesser to face the timbers for the apron which produced some nice clean glue surfaces. The timbers had some bow but gluing and clamping gave me a nice solid piece that I could then resurface for the apron. I used a scraper to remove the glue and then a random orbit sander to remove any residue left.

Apron jointed

I bought a jointer at this stage so I used that to true up the top face and edges of both the apron and bench timbers for a glue up. In the picture of the re-surfaced apron you can see the vice jaw glueup in the background. After the glue up I used a jig with a router fitted with a surfacing bit and a pair of jointed boards to surface the top of the bench so that it was dead flat. I will not go into the full technique since that is a topic all on its own and has been covered elsewhere by others including Mark Spagnolo, The Wood Whisperer. I then mounted the end vice to the under side of the bench and secured the sliding jaw to the vice.

End vice mounted under bench

Vice jaw

I glued the apron to the front face of the bench. I planed the apron flush with the bench top. I then drilled a series of dog holes along the top and side of the apron. Once the bench was complete I used a home made wax blend using 50/50 bees wax and boiled linseed oil with enough gum turpentine to produce a nice wipe on paste. This produced a nice finish on the bench.

Glueing the apron to the bench top

Plane the apron

Completed and finished bench

 At this stage my bench was flat and I had the end vice and apron fitted and it was sitting on the steel frame. The weight of the bench is sufficient to hold it in place. Being jarrah it is very heavy. The bench was serviceable but missing a front vice. To get around this hurdle I made a mini bench from jarrah to which I fitted my Dawn 8" wood vice to provide some clamping but this was not particularly convenient. 
Large quick release front vice
I bought a large quick release front vice online for $95 plus shipping. This is available from a number of suppliers in the quick release and standard versions. I preferred the quick release which was not available from my local supplier so I bought it online. There is no leaver for the quick release. It uses a split nut which closes when you screw the vice clockwise and releases when you twist the handle a quarter turn anticlockwise.

Front vice jaw
I began by marking out the position on the top of the bench where I was going to mount the vice. The position of the leg underneath determined how far from the end I was able to mount it.  This then set the jaw width. I wanted the jaw as high as the apron but I did not want to join the jaw and wanted to make it from a single piece.  However the piece of wood I was going to use was not quite wide enough but it was certainly wide enough for a substantial vice jaw. I cut a section from the rough board and jointed a face and one edge. I then faced the other side on the thicknesser and the final edge on the table saw. I cleaned up the saw marks with a hand plane. I finally cut each end on the sliding compound saw to final length. I wanted the jaw tapered either end so I marked out a taper on the ends of the jaw and cut to the line on the band saw. I then used a hand plane to clean up the bandsaw marks and to true the taper which was slightly off doe to the blade not being perfect. I need to get a new blade on the band saw since it does not cut perfectly straight.

Vice face
I found a nice piece of tight grained wood but quite soft to use as a vice face. I cut a piece slightly oversize jointed the faces and glued it to the vice jaw. I then planed it flush. This provides a nice clamping surface so as to not damage softer woods. Jarrah is very hard and can damage softer woods.

I wanted the vice screw to sit about half way up the jaw so I bade a spacer to fit underneath the bench to lower the vice mounting to achieve this. I flipped the bench and marked the position of the vice mount on the underside. I then checked that the bottom surface of the bench was square to the apron at this point since if it was out of square then the jaw would not sit flush against the apron which served as the inner jaw of the vice. The bench to apron was exactly 90 deg so I just took a few swipes of the hand plane to clean up the mating area. I marked the mounting hole position on the spacer I prepared and then marked four Xes on the spacer away from the vice mounting holes to drill for screws to mount the spacer to the bench. I drilled and countersunk pilot holes in the spacer and the bench. I glued the spacer in place and secured it with four 14G x 55 mm countersunk wood screws. The vice body has three 8 mm countersunk holes and 4 x 8mm plain holes. I drilled pilot holes for the three countersunk screws very slightly displaced towards the front. This meant that as the screws were tightened they would place a slight pressure into the back of the apron helping to keep it tight. I then secured the frame and used the holes in the vice to drill the holes through from the back of the apron for the screw and the two rails.

Underside of mounted vice
 I stopped as soon as the drill poked through then came in from the front to produce a nice clean hole. I then clamped the jaw to the front of the apron making sure that the top and end was flush with the apron then drilled through form the apron to the jaw. I then took the jaw to the table saw to dill nice square holes through the jaw. Again I came in from both sides to produce a nice clean hole.

I drilled and screwed the four 8mm coach screws, together with teh 8G x 75mm wood screws to secure the vice frame to the bench underside. I assembled the vice then tightened the vice with the jaw in position before drilling and screwing the jaw with three 12G x 75mm wood screws.

Vice handle blank
The vice does not come with a handle. It is designed to take either 3/4" standard galv water pipe which would be perfectly serviceable.  However it would be much nicer to use some dowling. 1" or 25mm would fit perfectly but I thought it would be nice to turn up a handle from some really hard wood I had. I cut a blank from some very nice clear piece of straight grained wood I had. The grain must be very straight and clear from any defects that may weaken the wood. I used a caliper to set the diameter and turned it on the lather. After sanding to 320 I used the same home made wax I used for the top to burnish the wood.

Finishing the handle

I need to make a trip to the hardware store to gt some 1" end caps for it.

I finally used the same beeswax, boiled linseed oil mixture to finish the vice jaw.

The vice operates smoothly and slides well back and forth. The jaw is nicely parallel to the apron and applies a lot of clamping pressure. I will finally drill three dog holes along the top of the vice then a series of dog holes in line with those three with spacing just slightly less than the vice opening.

Finished front vice
I am really pleased with the bench overall. It provides many clamping options which I will extend with some more judiciously placed dog holes in line with those I will drill for the front vice to provide even more versatility. It is flat solid and serviceable and will allow me to hone my woodworking skills as I produce some fine furniture. As a woodworker who loves the visceral feel of working with hand tools but enjoys the shortcuts of power tools I think that this bench is ideal. I can hold work for use with both hand tools and power tools.

Completed bench
Finally I would like to produce a set of sturdy wood legs for this bench rather than the steel frame on which is sits. The frame is certainly solid, no question, but I think a nice set of wood legs would be more elegant.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hand Held Metal Detector or Saw Saver.

If you always buy your timber from the local hardware or wood supplier then read no further, this article is not for you. However, if like me you are a little OCD and your internal self dies a little every time you see a nice piece of wood go to waste then read on. You will thank me later.

In every recycling woodworkers life there comes a time when they will encounter a piece of ironmongery in the most unfortunate of places. The latest episode for me (and the one which convinced me to buy a metal detector) was when I was milling the edges of my woodworking bench top. I had set up my brand new TS 55 to square the edge of one of the slabs, 50x400x2000 approx. and noticed some sparks about half way along the edge. When I checked I noticed a lovely shiny wood screw head flush with the edge and I just ruined a brand new festool blade. Ouch!

After some research I settled on the one pictured here.I picked it up for about $24 with free shipping from ebay. My criteria were that it had to be portable, have a audible and visual indication, have good sensitivity to both ferrous and non-ferrous metals and easy to use. There are a number of different models varying in price and specifications but this seemed to be the best value for money and satisfied al of my criteria. When you buy on ebay you often never know whether what you are getting will do the job but after getting it an testing it out I am not disappointed.

It has two positions, one for visual and vibration indicator and the other for audible, visual and vibration. It will pick up any ferrous or non-ferrous metals and will pick up a pin at 30mm which is more than sufficient to detect nails or screws inside of your wood.

A couple of examples. I wanted a piece of ply and there are some scraps of old 18mm marine ply knocking around. One piece looked rather ratty but it looked like I could cut out a piece that would be suitable. I grabbed the metal detector and swept the ply only to find several broken screws embeded in the ply. I grabbed a pencil and circled each of the screws as the detector picked them up and found that I was still able to cut around them easily to get the size I was looking for. I then scrapped the rest. The second example was when I was looking for a slab of jarrah for a small table top bench I was building. I found a piece that would have been perfect so I swept it with my metal detector only to find that there were several old rusty wood screws embedded into the side of the slab. I was unable to remove them since they had rusted in place and I had no idea how deep they went. I abandoned that piece and used two other pieces which I jointed and glued into s single slab.  I will probably use a hole saw to extract the screws and plug the holes with dowels and use it for something else.

I have a lot of reclaimed wood and this metal detector will hopefully save many saw blades, jointer heads, thicknesser blades et al.

Moisture Meter

The moisture meter seems to becoming a common component in the woodworker's toolkit. These can be a somewhat mysterious black box with magic inside. Their operation is somewhat complex and their principles are even more complex.

In this article I hope to uncover some of the mysteries of this device and describe my experience with my moisture meter giving hints as to its best use.

There are two basic types of meter, the pin type meter and the inductive meter. The pin type has several advantages, they are typically cheaper and you can drill holes into the wood to get a better moisture profile. The operating principle is pretty simple. The moisture in the wood conducts electricity so the meter figures out how much water is in the wood based on how much current it passes. The up side is they are cheap and simple to operate. The down side is that you have to get inside the wood to find out how much moisture it has. Not much good at the lumber yard where the owner would take a very dim view of cutting a few mm off the end of every piece of wood in a stack. Also a pain at home where you want to check the state of a flitch by having to cut the end off and re-seal.

However the inductive type are easier to use and you do not have to cut or drill the wood to get a good reading of the moisture content but you must have a flat surface to place the meter against. It works by using an RF (radio frequency) signal and testing how much it is affected by the wood. The better the meter the more sophisticated the technique used in the meter. I bought this one for about $58 off ebay. You can get meters that cost $350 or more  but the truth is that you can do all of what you need with one of these. The dearer meter may have a deeper penetration and better build quality but that is about it. This meter has a penetration of about 30-40mm. (For those electronic engineers I know the operation is more complex but this is a layman's overview.)

You need a flat surface on the wood being tested and typically the long grain will provide a more accurate reading then end grain since the cell cross section may distort the reading but not by much. The surface can be rough sawn but a jagged surface will produce inaccurate readings. Also make sure you keep your hand away from the reading area. This will give a high reading. Since the reading is affected by the density of the wood you need to adjust the meter for the wood's density or SG (specific gravity) using the Density selection. Most meters come with a table providing the setting (typically 0-9) versus Density (SG usually) and wood species for the more common woods.

Let me do some school revision for you regarding SG. The SG is a number which relates the density of the material to pure water which has an SG of 1. In short if the material has an SG of less than 1 it floats and is lighter than the equivalent quantity of water. If the material has an SG of higher than 1 then it will sink and is therefore more dense than water. Almost all woods will have an SG of less than 1 and will therefore float but some rare woods such as ebony will actually sink and Ebony has an SG of about 1.1. There are many tables online that provide SG values for various woods but it is easy enough to calculate with a ruler, scales and piece of wood. Again this is covered elsewhere using various techniques but the one I prefer is to square a sample of wood on all six faces, calculate the volume, divide it into the volume of one litre (10cm cubed) and divide by the weight in kg. This should give you a number between about 0.3 and 1.2 and this will be the SG.

I had to do this for a piece of mallee for which I could not find a value online. I think it came out to about .4, I should have made a note.

If you are planning to use local timber or even local hardware store timber then an inductive moisture meter is a welcome investment and can save a lot of grief.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Sharpening Regime

Much has been written over the years about sharpening hand tools and it seems that everybody has their preferred method but much of it seems to me to be trying to design a better mouse trap. A lot of fuss and effort to produce an exact same result as the old traditional method. Some of them are really expensive but do no more than the traditional sharpening method. For instance someone on Gumtree was selling his old sharpening station for $1,800 second hand which still required you to use a sharpening stone and/or strop after you had finished there. 

In this entry I will describe what I do to sharpen and why I use that method. Although I could spend many pages going through all of the various methods devised over the years most people would not bother to read it and this has been done so many times elsewhere.

The principle I adopt is simplicity coupled with tradition. The method I use has been used since time immemorial in both the western and eastern tradition in one form or another. It was the method my dad used and the method I was taught at school will little variation.

It is basically a two step method. A rotating stone for rough grinding to establish a bevel then stones to refine the edge. If you want a super sharp edge then stropping can provide a third step which is useful for knives or razors but I don't bother for hand tools. There may be a pre-first step of linishing for restoring old tools such as in the picture to the left but that is not part of an edge maintenance regime.

Step one is grinding the primary bevel. I do this on a grinding stone on a medium speed grinder. This is often mistakenly called a high speed grinder, it is not. An 8" high speed grinder uses resin wheels and spins at over 6,000 RPM. Your medium speed grinder is the most common type and runs at about 1800 RPM. The best grinder for this step is a slow speed wet grinder that runs at 600 - 800 RPM and runs in a bath of water. This keeps the steel cool and produces a much finer edge but is very expensive and can cost up to $1,000.

The grinder I use is an 8" medium speed grinder and uses a white aluminium oxide wheel. They can be had for $100 for a cheapish unit up to several hundred for a name brand. The white wheel runs cooler and creates a finer finish but does wear more quickly. I use a $20 diamond dresser to maintain a clean wheel and a slightly convex face on the wheel. The convex face will help prevent burning of the edge. I also keep a pot of water next to the grinder and dip the tool into the water after every pass. I set the tool rest angle by eye against the existing bevel, but if I need to reset the primary angle I can use a protractor. I then grind the bevel by hand resting the chisel on the toolrest and continually dipping it in water.

Step two is the actual sharpening. I was taught with oils stones sharpening freehand. Although with careful attention I can still sharpen freehand I find that I get more consistent and faster results using a jig. Since it is not my day job (if it was I would refine my free hand skills) I cheat and resort to a jig. I now use a double sided water stone, 1000/6000 grit. The oil is somewhat messy and requires more careful cleaning so as not to transfer the oil to the wood. If I was super keen I could get an 8000 or 10000 grit stone but I get acceptable results from 6000. This combo stone is about $86 from Carbatech which is pretty good value. Ceramic stones do not require soaking, you just need to spray them with water but they are much more expensive. I use a 400  grit diamond plate to keep the water stone flat. A few strokes after each sharpening is sufficient. I use a $40 stone holder which is quite convenient. I keep a spray bottle of water next to me to make sure the stone is kept moist, especially if I am sharpening a number of tools at the same time.

The jig I use is the Veritas Sharpening Jig Mk II which is $109. It comes with a gauge to set the angle accurately. I also added a camber roller for $38 which allows me to round the edges of smoothing plane blades.

I use a few strokes to establish the secondary bevel at 1000 then flip the stone and apply a few strokes to polish the bevel. If you apply a gentle pressure to the tool then you will not round over the edge. This is one of the biggest mistakes at this stage. Too much pressure may cause the bevel to distort and round over the edge and create a large burr which will produce a less than perfect edge. The burr must be extremely fine, almost impossible to detect. Once the edge is polished remove the tool from the jig and polish the back on the 6000 stone. Job done.

Using this method your ongoing costs are nil. After your initial outlay your grinding wheel, stones and diamond plate should last indefinitely. You do not need the more expensive Veritas jig, your side griping jigs which can be had for under $20 are just as effective if you are careful. You can set up a wood jig with depth stops for your common angles to make setting your bevel angles faster using the side griping jig. Although a wet grinder is better it is a lot more expensive compared to your regular medium speed grinder. The only thing I need now is a dedicated sharpening station. I really only need a small wet area with a laminex bench top set to a convenient height to allow me to lay out my water bath stone lapping plate and jig. If it is relatively close to your working area, but not close enough to get covered in shavings you will be into the semis without dropping a set.

My sharpening resources are;
  • 1000/6000 combination water stone
  • 400 diamond lapping plate
  • Sharpening jig
  • Stone holder
  • Water bath
  • 8" bench grinder with fine white stone
 Also when I get around to it a sharpening station.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wood Lathe Tool Holder Repair

I was foolishly trying to round a large piece of tree stump which was out of round and the roughing gouge caught on the wood and broke my cast iron tool holder. The tool holder (as I discovered) was probably not flat and not very heavy so it was really only designed for lightish work.

When I looked up replacements they were of the order of $160. After some research I decided to fabricate one from bits of steel I had lying about the place.

Parts list
  • Length of 15mm square steel
  • 75mm x 5mm flat steel
  • 3/4" water pipe
  • 10mm nut
  • Eccentric bar and circlips (recovered from  the old tool rest)
  • Bed securing assembly (recovered from  the old tool rest)
I started by cutting the 15mm steel square into two lengths  the length of the old holder less 10mm for the two end plates. I put a small 45 deg chamferon the corners of the bars to take the weld. From the flat steel I then cut two pieces one for each end, the one at the tool rest end being higher to cater for the tool rest. I then cut a short piece of the 3/4 water pipe for the tool rest.

I drilled two 20mm holes in the end places centered across and 5mm up from the bottom. I then welded these plates onto the 15mm bars I cut previously. This left a gap of about 50mm in the center for the eccentric bar. I then welded the piece of 3/4" pipe to the inside of the longer end plate to take the tool rest. After drilling a 10mm hole in the side of the pipe, using a short piece of threaded rod as a gauge, I welded a 10mm nut to the pipe to take the tool rest securing screw. I used a 10mm tap to clean up any splatter that obstructed the thread and to cater for any misalignment with the 10mm hole in the pipe.

The assembly was now complete. I then reassembled it and tested it on the lathe bed.

My thanks to Kryn over at the Woodworking Forums for the idea.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Veritas Scrub Plane

The scrub plane is not so much as a particular plan design so much as a method of preparing and using a regular bench plane. The purpose of a scrub plane is to easily remove a lot of stock to either thickness a board or to remove surface irregularities such as cupping or twist.

A scrub plane is identified by the severe radius on the blade, typically about 75mm. This allows the plane to rapidly remove a lot of wood very fast. In the past timber framers would use a scrub plane to size timbers for sockets or joints. Also cabinet makes would use a scrub plane to size timers before finishing them with the jointer and smoother. Any bench plane (except perhaps a jointer) could be made into a scrub plane by simply shaping the blade with a sharp radius. In fact many hand tool woodworkers keep separate blades for a bench plane with a severe radius to use as a scrub.

Since the scrub is pretty much "brute force and ignorance" it does not need any of the refinements and sophistication of your regular bench plane so Veritas has produced a bare bones plane that has a very simple body a single securing screw and an iron radiused at 75mm. They call this the Veritas Scrub Plane.

The body is about the same length as a jack so it is ideal for flattening boards as well as thicknessing. My old bench consists of three planks of 50x200x2000 jarrah and the centre plank has about a 2-3mm cup. I used my new Veritas Scrub Plane to flatten out this cup before smoothing it in preparation for jointing the edges for a glue up.

The scrub plane was a dream to use and made very short work of the section in the photo to the right.

I had a chance to pick up this plane second hand for the price of a quality plane iron which saves having to reset the plane every time I want to use a scrub plane.

The Veritas scrub plane is simple easy to use and is an excellent addition to the hand tool workers kit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jarrah Modem Shelf

My ADSL modem was sitting on a music stand in the laundry And looking rather untidy with cables going every which way. A friend gave me the idea of making a custom shelf for it.

I have a load of jarrah paneling which was recovered from the Port Adelaide wool sheds in the 80s.

I took a piece of this, about 100 wide and 1200 long and cut it in three and jointed four edges. I then glued the two pieces together to make a piece that was about 250x400. I wanted the shelf to be about 200x300 wide. After resurfacing the faces on the thicknesser I cut out the piece to length and then cut it length wise which  gave me one piece for the top then another which I could glue to the bottom of the back edge which I could use to secure the shelf to the wall.

I wanted a cut out at the back to take the cables so I made a template which would make about a 25x50 mm  cut out on both pieces. This would allow all the cabes to be routed via the back of the shelf to keep it tidy. I had to buy a 40mm x 12 mm patten bit since my patten bit was not long enough. I secured the patten to the pieces using double sided tape and then routed out the recess.

I then routed a 12mm round over on all of the edges except for the front top of the rear piece and rear edges of the front piece where they joined and the back of the rear piece which sat against the wall. I then glued the rear piece to the bottom back of the top at right angles. Once the glue dried I Used a couple of pocket hole screws to reinforce the joint.

After scraping off the excess glue I used a small block plane to clean up any slight overlap of the joint.

I finally sanded to 320 grit using a random orbital sander and applied 2 coats of a home made wiping oil varnish mix. This left a film of oil after it dried so I wiped that off using a clean cotton rag and then applied a finishing wax which I buffed in by hand using a cotton rag.

I mounted it to the gyprock with  some wall board fasteners. I did not bother locating it to the studs since the modem is just a few hundred grams.

The wood ended up with a nice deep red look with a natural finish. It is not subject to rough treatment so I thought that this was sufficient.

The finishing touch was some flexible cable ducting to keep it looking tidy.

It still has the marks of the various uses that the wood has had over the years which speaks of the history of the wood. I took no pains to disguise that since it does not detract from its purpose and adds character to the whole project.

I have more ideas for how to reuse the wood I have recovered as well as other unused pieces that the original owner and builder (now sadly passed) has left behind. All of the projects will have a similar character and I may even make a mounted plaque telling the story, just an idea at the moment.

My next project using this wood is a little more ambitious and will be a bathroom cabinet with glass doors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bandsaw Discovery

I have been looking for a bandsaw for a while now, or to be exact two bandsaws. I wanted a larger one for resaw and a smaller unit for cutting curves. There was a bargain 14" that went on Gumtree a month or so ago but I missed that one by hours.

On the other hand there was an old 24" cast iron monstrosity in Gumtree for a number of weeks. I looked it on numerous occasions but it never really struck me until I took a more detailed look. It appeared to be ok so I rang up and arranged to see it in person. It ran fine so I agreed a price ($350) and proceeded to try to get it onto my 6x5 trailer. An hour later and after some considerable exertion we had it loaded onto the trailer. Gee it is heavy!

When I got it home I then began the task of extracting it from the trailer. I backed it up to the shed and started moving the band saw back off the trailer. A torn tendon in my right elbow did not make it any easier. When it was far enough back the base lowered onto the concrete of the shed. But it was still too heavy to lift up to the vertical. I then used some trailer tie downs secured to the shed beam to lift the top of the frame until it was balanced at which point I was able to easily move the band saw into a vertical position.

Two 6" square beams were welded to the base of the saw some time in the past and using these I was able to use a long wooden pole to maneuver the band saw round and get it onto some small round bars. Using the bars as rollers I was able to move the saw into position then I used the wooden beam again to get it into its final position and remove the rods.

The saw had a 1" (25 mm) blade and a single phase 2.5 HP motor. My first few tests proved that the blade was blunt, covered in resin and the motor was under powered. The blade drifted randomly and quite markedly to the left which I believe was due to a nice band of resin on the left side of the blade, the side that rids on the wheels. On investigation it transpired that the run capacitor on the motor was open circuit which caused the motor to run at roughly half power. After replacing the capacitor ($16.50) the saw started to operate without the motor constantly cutting out. I sent the blade off to get sharpened for $15. I also ordered a 5/8" (15 mm) blade for $45.

The upper guide consists of a rear bearing and two blocks of mild steel angled down to about 45 deg. It was set quite well by the previous owner. The lower guide needs some attention since the rear bearing is seized. I am contemplating replacing both the lower and upper guides with bearing guides. Whether I make a custom assembly or buy one is yet to be decided. I quite like the idea of custom making something and I am sure I have the necessary skills to do this.

 The lower cover is held on by two studs. Each stud was fabricated from a length of 3/4" round mild steel with a 1/2" W thread turned on either end. One end was screwed into the casting above either side of the lower wheel and the cover sat on the screws on the outer end of the studs on which was screwed using hand nuts to secure the cover. One of these studs was broken off in the casting. I used an easy out to remove the broken off stud from the inside of the saw. I then ground that end of the rod flat. I then used a drill and tap to create a 1/2" W thread in the stud. I cut a length of 1/2" threaded rod then re-secured the stud. However when I secured the cover it was rubbing on the lower wheel. I therefore placed a washer between the stud and the inner casting then another washer on the inside of the cover which spaced the cover perfectly.

The pulley cover (not pictured) no longer fits since it was designed for the original ,three phase motor which had a much lower mounting position. I would have to weld some studs or drill and tap new holes if I was to fit the cover to the machine as is. The other alternative is to weld some slotted mounts to make the cover adjustable.

All in all I am really pleased with the condition of the saw and how well it runs. It has a resaw capacity of just under 300mm and I think with a nice sharp blade I will not have any issues resawing very heavy timbers.

I am now in the market for a smaller saw for curved work.

Update: I got the blades back from the sharpener today and it cuts like butter with zero drift.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Veritas Minature Router Plane

I bought this plane to route a shallow (0.5mm) mortice for a label. I have only had it a day and used it on a test cut.

The plane is made from Stainless steel with bubinga knobs and A2 hardened steel blade. However the ferrule is aluminium which could be a concern considering the stability of the blade. The presentation box is a nice touch and should protect it (and prevent it from being lost in a junk drawer!)

It feels nice in the hand but I do not have overly large hands, I could imagine that if you have beefy hands it might be an issue. In use it is easy and convenient for those small jobs where space is an issue or more delicate jobs where a full sized router plane is too large.

The only issue I have is the stability of the blade. The blade needs a bit of fiddling to get it locked and stable. Every time I tightened it the blade worked its way loose. I found that I have to continuously move the blade slightly whilst locking it in with the securing screw to ensure that the blade was secured properly. I found this somewhat annoying and this made it difficult to adjust the depth accurately. This has the potential over time to wear the thread inside the aluminium ferrule. I am hoping that over time as the edges of the adjustments smooth over or I become more used to the securing mechanism it will be more reliable to secure the blade.

I paid AU$65 at my local woodworkers store which is rather expensive. Apart from the blade securing issue - which makes it feel lower quality than it really is - it is a very nice tool.

It is an extremely useful tool for doing those small jobs in tight corners.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My first project - ancient history

I took woodworking at school where I learned basic skills such as sawing, chisel, planing, sharpening and carving. After I left school I had some of my dad's tools which I supplemented with some basic tool purchases from an engineer's supply company where I worked at the time.

After I married we were not particularly well off so I decided to build a lounge suite to replace the various "fall apart" hand me downs. Since money was limited I used construction pine and selected pieces for their purpose. The lounge suite has long since gone to meet its maker so I cannot show you pictures of it.

The arms were wide 5x2 and the legs were 3x1 1/2. The cross members were 3x1 1/2 and the back frame was about 3x1 I think and the slats for the back were 1/2" by 2" and morticed into the frame for the back. The joinery was all mortice and tenon. A lot of the wood sizing is guesswork at this stage since it was built over 35 years ago. It consisted of a 2/3 seater and two singles. The 2/3 was wide enough for 3 average sized people or 2 larger built people. The image here is vaguely similar in style just to give you an idea. The legs were set back. The legs were narrower than the arms and the arms were curved in at the front outer edges to make them narrower at the front which gave it more of a sculpted look.

All of the joinery was hand cut and used resin glue for strength. It was finished with several coats of clear semi gloss poly.

The front and rear cross members were slotted using a circular saw for seat bottom straps and the wife made cushions for it using blocks of foam.

As I recall it did not cost a lot to build, the timber was extremely cheap. I spent more on the glue, poly and sundry tools than the timber. I was rather pleased despite my rather rudimentary skills. I recall that my joints were not particularly skilfully done but they were sound. The only annoying aspect was that the slope on the back was too steep and when you sat down and leaned back it was difficult to actually get out of it. You did not have the web sites specifying good furniture angles and dimensions as you do today. I used a lot of guess work. However I was really pleased with it as a first attempt and there were some design aspects that I was rather pleased with.

It actually (IMHO) looked quite nice and with nice cushions it functioned quite well except for the too steep back angle. It looked in proportion and did not look either clunky or spindly. It looked and felt solid. I made the arms especially wide to take a cup of tea or glass of beverage so they were in effect mini tables. It held together quite well considering the battering it got from one house move, two adults and four children. I had it for maybe six or seven years before being replaced by another second hand hand-me-down, and maybe for some time after to server as a backup.

I have rather nostalgic memories of it despite its limitations and I may make another attempt at re-making it this time with a better ergonomic design, nicer wood, more skilled joinery and nicer cushions.