Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Switch - Autodirect to Tumblr

It was a short stay on Blogger, but the allure of something better overwhelmed the hassle of switching. Off to greener pastures at Tumblr. For the dozen (!) feed subscribers, the switchover should be seamless. For the others, please update your bookmarks.

Almost There

Still sorting out the lumber for the top. Not quite the full reveal I was hoping for, but wanted to at least show the progress so far. It's based upon the Gustav Stickley 603 Tabouret from the Spring 2008 issue of Woodworking Magazine.

I skipped the detailing on the lower stretchers. The lap joint was cut a bit tight so the dry fit turned into a press fit. Hopefully the joint doesn't crack. Overall, I'm reasonably happy with the first effort. There are gaps here and there but I guess that's to be expected. After all, I've been doing this for all of 8 or 9 months, most of which has been spent setting things up and practicing basic handtool skills.

Some notes on the construction.

Lap Joints
There are two sets of lap joints, one on each set of stretchers. Given the differences in geometry, the two were quite different to actually cut. The top joint has a greater floor surface than wall surface. This meant that small alignment errors with the chisel resulted in defects on the floor of the lap joint. For the lower joint, the floor surface was relatively small, with a very deep wall. So this placed a greater emphasis on sawing to the line as compared to chiseling out the small bit of waste.

Mortise & Tenon
Overall, I would say the M&T joints were the simplest to cut, but the most time consuming. Part of this was due to the intermissions to sharpen the mortising chisel, not having a proper workbench on which to hammer out the mortises and overly frequent checking and clearing out of the waste. Chiseling out mortises on a tablesaw's extension table has the effect of turning the table into a large impromptu drum. Needless to say, late evening mortising ceased to become an option. By the last mortise, it was taking me about 25 minutes to chisel one out. It's a good thing that I don't need these things to feed the family. It seems 2-3x longer than I would think is reasonable for a 1/4" x 1 1/2" x 7/8" mortise, even excepting that the wood is hard maple. I think I did a reasonable job on the shoulders, the tenon itself fit well into the mortise, but I'd say 3 of the 8 shoulder to face surfaces show some gapping. Nothing glaring and something that will get better as I keep at it.

Half-blind Dovetails
I didn't enjoy cutting the half-blind pins. The tails were straightforward enough. Still need a bit more consistency with the shoulders. Cutting the sockets is a huge pain. I'm not sure if I was doing this properly, but the result was okay. I switched between knifing the lines and drawing the lines with a pen. Results were a tight fit with the knifed lines and a sloppy one with the pen. Mentally I don't sit far enough to the waste side with the pen lines. The result tends to have no pen line remaining where there should be the entire line showing after I'm done. I used a mortise chisel to hog out most of the waste, and switched to a bevel edge chisel to clean up along the edges. Keeping the floor flat wasn't as difficult as I was expecting. Small surfaces are nice that way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chipped & Polished

So after maybe a half dozen mortises mostly in poplar, and 90% of one in maple this is the condition of my edge. At the time I'm thinking Ray Iles and his D2 steel aren't living up to expectations. While working in maple has been literally tough, I wasn't expecting it to beat the edge on a beefy English mortising chisel. I've since had another read of Mr. Moskowitz's site and think I need to hone a micro-bevel on this bad boy.

This is the sharpening and honing I did before contacting Joel. The timeline is a bit disjointed in that I took these pictures late last week, and determined part way through today that I should drop him a line with some pics. In the meantime though I had another 3 mortises (and 4 half blind tails) that needed chopping so this is what I used for the job. I'll say after the aforementioned joints were done, the edge is looking rather ragged. Not chipped so much as just plain ragged. You have too look pretty close, but it's not pretty. It's definitely still sharp, but I'm hoping a new micro-bevel will cure what ails my poor chisel.

On an aside, I'm not 100% clear on Mr. Kell's honing guide. His instructions indicate the bottom of the chisel or plane blade should be used as the datum against the guide spindles. Joel's pictures show the top face being used as the datum. I tried both, and ended up doing a lot of grinding on my 1000 grit stone to set and re-set the primary bevels. Once because the bevel was no longer square to the chisel sides.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Milled, Tailed & Lapped

Feeling pretty good about my first lap joint. Not perfect, but decent enough. This one gets hidden, the next one won't be...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

800 lbs

I think that's a reasonable estimate for the amount of lumber I hauled into the basement today. I think that excuses me from any further "woodworking" today on account of my body approaching brokenness. Between the endless snow shovelling, hockey and hauling lumber, my body needs a bit of a break.

I suppose this is the cost of buying lumber off Kijiji. I picked up between 230-300 board feet of maple for $450. I'm not sure what the waste factor will be but even if I can pull 65-70% usable wood from the pile, I think I made off fairly well. The downside of course is that I now have several hundred board feet of lumber residing in my basement. I suppose this is only further impetus to pick up the pace toward production of any sort.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tail 7 - Pins 6 (almost)

After the Moxon excursion, I'm back to dovetailing. There was a Schwarz review of the Knew Concepts fretsaw, which more importantly linked an older post comparing coping and fretsaws for cutting out dovetail waste. There was an important tip on technique in the old post. Chris would cut down from the top of the tail waste diagonally to the opposite corner. Then he'd take a second cut across.

So new tip in mind, I set out on another set of dovetails. This leads to a minor issue with the Moxon vise, which isn't unique to this vise design, but rather is new to someone not having used many (read any) face vises prior. If the work piece doesn't extend below the centerline of the vise face, the vise will rack like crazy. So my small scraps of maple have been set aside for a much larger "scrap of maple. Of course this also results in a much greater number of tails. This turned out to be good and bad. Lots of tails means lots of practice. Lots of tails also means not getting to the pins in the same night. I won't lie, my hands started getting sore using the coping saw. On the second set of cuts, I started using two hands, kind of like a miniature bowsaw, that helped matters greatly. So below is the result. It's not pretty. There's a couple cuts that dipped below the baseline. The chisel work needs work, and likely a touch up of the edge. The board is a bit long to fit lengthwise in the vise, so sawing off the end waste was a bit unstable. Lastly, I need to do a better job controlling the far edge of the coping saw on the waste cuts. There are quite a few errant cuts on the tails. Still, it is only the 7th set of tails. We'll see how the 6th set of pins go tomorrow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rockin' Moxon

Success. Mostly. I want to bore out one of the holes on the face a bit more so the screw travels a bit more freely but other than that I'm content with the output. A few more chamfers here and there, a good sanding and I'll be done. Then back to the daily dovetailing while glancing askew at the pile of white oak waiting to be turned into a proper workbench. I'm not relishing the thought of milling all that timber but I need a workbench, and a good workout. It's debatable which one I need more at the moment.

Some final thoughts on this. Breaking the edges of the holes prior to tapping keeps the edges clean. I suppose if you're experienced, that would be a given. It's all new to me. The Beall cuts a really nice thread.

I read Peter Follansbee complaining about working with walnut since he works almost exclusively with riven white oak. I find the differences between the various species I've worked thus far (white oak, poplar, hard maple, white pine, white ash, African mahogany, and a really dense tropical species that I can't recall at the moment) a bit unsettling. I can't imagine what it would be like if I had worked for twenty years using only one species and then switched.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Moxon Double Screw - Take 2

So the story continues. It's a little bit discouraging that it's taking me so long to get a functional double-screw vise constructed. Two flat boards, four holes, two tapped, a couple threaded rods and a pair of handles. It should be an afternoon project but it hasn't been.

My octagonal handles had a couple issues. The hole wasn't bored parallel to the handle, so the threaded rod comes out a bit skewed. I was willing to live with the minor ergonomic inconvenience, but after a few trials on the vise, the handles also turned out to be too large. At that point I decided to rework the handles, of course this also meant I could address the lack of parallelism.

Aside from the handles, another issue arose. The screw wouldn't thread all the way through the board, again. After some inspection and fiddling with the screws, I determined the threaded hole wasn't threaded completely perpendicular to the face of the vise. This results in the rod entering at a slight skew, which causes it to bind as it works it's way through the board. The effort required to get everything parallel and perpendicular is not insignificant. My solution here was to run the tap through from the opposite face. The result is a slightly sloppy fit between the screw and the hole, but in the end it shouldn't affect the efficacy of the clamp.

So I've reset a bit, tweaked things a bit and have my pieces. I've run out of time tonight, so boring out the handles and assembly will have to wait until tomorrow.