Chisels a lot

Shop time has become scarce lately and progress on the bench that  I am building has been slow.  I have done a little work and the base is ready for final assembly.  I have drawbored one stretcher to a leg to make sure that method would work well and it did.  I just need to fine tune the mortises and tenons before glueing and pegging the joints.  I am beginning to rethink the idea of building this thing by hand because it is taking so long.  The mortises are taking the longest because I don’t have  a 5/8 mortising chisel.  

Cutting tenons the old fashioned way.

Cutting tenons the old fashioned way.

I have also been trying to create a blog that documents my progress on the lumberjocks website.  The guys over there have been really supportive and have answered questions.  I started documenting my progress on that site without searching to see if anyone had built the same bench.  I did finally search the site and found several members who have built the same bench.  I must admit that I am a little intimidated because the have done some outstanding work and here I am as a newbie trying to build this thing with hand tools only.  What was I thinking?  Oh well, I am having fun and learning a lot.  



I believe that I will be able to start assembling the top next week.  I don’t think that will be too difficult.  I think the hard part will be attaching the leg assembly to the top.  Of course, there are the four large mortises that I will have chop.  I have another big decision that I need to make and that is the  front vise.  I could use the traditional two large wooden screws, but I don’t have the equipment or skills to make my own and to buy two wooden screws like I need will cost around $250.  The other option I have is the Veritas Twin screw.  This is a nice piece of equipment that cost around $250 also.  Each setup has it’s pros and cons and I am still trying to  locate information to learn how to cut my wooden screws because I do like the look of the wooden screws.  Only time will tell.




 At the end of this project, I will write an afterthoughts post and show pictures of all the mistakes that I have made along the way.  I will also included my tips and pointers for fellow newbies who want to tackle this project.  I will publish that post here and on my blog at lumberjocks.  You can check it by clicking on any of the pictures in this post and checking out the blog tab at the top.  Have a good one!


If I ever have to sharpen another blade…

Ok.  I know I usually get in a hurry to get things done and I did this when reading up on sharpening.  I even tried to watch some online videos of the process.  To be honest, I just looked at the equipment and went to the store and bought what I thought I needed.  I should know myself better by now.  I won’t go into the  details of having to make three trips because I like visiting that store anyway.

I went with the water stone method since my father had shown me how to use an oil stone to sharpen my pocket knife as a kid.  I purchased three separate stones in 800 grit, 1200 grit, and 8000 grit flavors.  I stayed away from the combination stones because you have to use one stone to flatten the other.  I used the 800 to flatten the 1200 and then I used the 1200 to flatten the 8000 grit stone.  I also bought a nagura stone to use with the 8000 stone.  You need this stone to create the slurry used to polish your secondary bevel.  I also bought the cheap honing jig for planes and chisels.  I think it cost about $14.00.  Veritas has an awesome honing jig that comes with a guide that will help you get the blade to the correct angle without fuss.  I sure hope Santa is reading my blog.  I used a protractor and thick poster board to scribe multiple angles that sits on the lowest shelf in front of my bench.  This works well for me because it is at eye level.

I first started with the plane blades because I knew I would be replacing the originals with thicker Hock blades and I was scared to “experiment” on my new chisels.  I started with my jointer and smoothing blades.  I began by grinding the edge straight and then I ground a 25 degree bevel using my 6 inch grinder.  The grinder I use is the basic on/off bench grinder.  I wish I had an adjustable speed grinder, but hind sight is 20/20.  A Tormek is another option, but it’s not in the budget at this time.  I put the blade in the honing jig and used my template to get a secondary bevel at about 30 degrees.  I started with the 800 grit stone and worked and worked.  Day settled into night and the night relinquished into day..  Oh, sorry.  That’s another story.  This took me a while because I never could get it sharp enough to cut the wood like I thought it should.  I did some more research and made another attempt.  I worked the 800 stone until I felt a bur on the back side of the blade.  Once I noticed the bur, I switched to the 1200 grit stone and only did a few pass.  This polished the secondary bevel quick and clean.  Before I used the 8000 grit stone, I adjusted the honing jig to gain a few degrees on the bevel.  It’s probably very close to 32 degrees at this point.  I did a few passes on this stone, removed the blade from the jig, and flipped it over and removed the bur using the same stone.  The blade was very sharp.  I used the modified Randall Groves method to determining sharpness and it met my expectations.

When I sharpened my #6 fore plane blade, I went through the same process.  The only change I had to make was how I honed the blade because of the 9″ radius that the blade was ground to.  I had to pull the blade across the stones in the jig while starting on one side of the blade and ending on the other and reversing the process on the next lap.  I made sure I was doing this right be trying to draw a “X” on the stone with the blade.

I have been reading how some people grind a slight radius on every blade.  This is something I will experiment with because the reasoning makes sense.  I just wanted to make the planes usable and get the process down before I attempt any expert techniques.  This is what I have done in the way of sharpening so far and it works well for me.  I know there are others who like to sharpen by hand and like using the “Scary Sharp Method”.  This method involves using sand paper and is supposed to work very well.  I haven’t used this method and can’t say that I will any time soon because I am more interested in getting into some projects.  

This is the process that I went through to sharpen the plane irons.  It doesn’t take long and grinding the primary bevel is done rarely.  The irons will only require a quick honing after every project.  I am sure that there are other machines and methods for sharpening that I don’t know about.  I even saw a guy on youtube use what looked like a chop saw to sharpen plane irons.  I would appreciate comments and opinions on this topic.



“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Planes of Truth

This is by no means a tutorial in tuning hand planes.  Especially since I am a novice in this area, but I do want to share my experience in hopes that you may learn from it.  I had done what I thought was an adequate amount of homework on hand planes.  I picked up a book from the library on hand planes and read through Patrick’s Blood and Gore website.  That website is a must visit, but they are right about reserving a few hours to get through all of the information.

After checking out a few local flea markets and antique stores, I couldn’t find the three hand planes that I thought would be a good start.  I was looking for a block plane, smoothing plane, and bench plane.  I resorted to looking on eBay.  I felt good about buying used planes on eBay without seeing them because I would be tuning them for my use.  

The first plane that I bid and won was a Stanley 60 1/2.  It had pictures of every side and looked to be in good shape.  I didn’t see any rust which I was paying close attention to.  A week later, the plane arrived.  Upon close inspection, I noticed that the back of the mouth had been severely chipped away.  This is a big problem for a hand plane.  I went back to the auction ad and looked closely at the pictures and there it was right in the picture.  The problem is that I had not seen a hand plane in person and didn’t know what I was looking for other than rust.  That plane donated itself as an electrode to remove rust from a hand saw using electrolysis.  That’s another fun experiment that I will blog on at a later time.

The second hand plane that I shopped victoriously for was a Stanley #4.  The sole and sides were rusted a little, but the mouth was in good shape after I asked the seller  to send me some close up photos “of the sole.”  The seller was more than happy to do so.  The handles looked to be in good shape and the japanning seemed to be mostly intact.  I was content with the condition of the plane when I received it.  I purchased two 4″X3ft sections of marble from the tile dept. at home depot and one 4″ wide belt sander sand paper in 80 grit.  I cut the sanding paper and attached it to the marble using spray adhesive.  This part is labor tensive to say the least.  The sanding paper did a good job of removing the rust, but I needed a second sheet to get the bottom and sides completely clean.  I followed this up with 120 grit and then 220 grit to get that lovely mirror finish.  The rest of the plane didn’t need much  in the way of cleaning.  I did use a small file on the machined parts on the parts that touch in between the body and frog.  Yes, I did say frog and if you don’t know what I am talking about, then why are you reading this?  I sharpened the blade and reassembled the plane.  It has been a workhorse, but I still need to practice some more on sharpening plane irons.

The third plane that I bid on was a Stanley #7.  After all of the lapping that I did with the #4, I looked for a fairly clean plane since the 7 is long and heavy.  I found one that looked like it had been taken care and I paid the “market” price.  This plane arrived with a pretty sharp blade and the condition overall was good.  I actually used this plane without tuning it in my saw bench build.  I spent a lot of time doing little adjustments to it and it seemed like I was always having to adjust something.  After the saw bench was complete, I disassembled it and realized that it did need some work.  The sole was in much need of a lapping and the frog needed some work on the machined surfaces to true everything up so the iron and chipbreaker would fit right in the body.  There isn’t much that I can say for lapping the sole of a #7 besides packing a lunch, dinner, and sleeping bag.  I read somewhere that the toe, front of the mouth, rear of the mouth, and heel are the only areas on this plane that need to be lapped to the same level.  What they failed to tell me was that you have to get through the parts in between to get those level.  To lap the sole, I used 3 belt sander sanding belts in 80 grit and only went to 120 grit because my arms were almost useless at that point.  The frog needed a lot of attention on the machined surfaces and controls.  A small file and steel wool made this part of the job quick and easy.

I did eventually buy another plane because I am now a shopaholic.  I bought a Stanley #6 fore plane.  Patrick’s Blood and Gore has nothing good to say about this plane, but it is probably my favorite plane so far.  This plane was well photographed and looked similar in condition to the #4 that I had bought.  I cleaned this plane up in one afternoon.  A fore plane is made to remove a lot of material without paying much attention to flattening it.  Let’s say that you bought a piece of 2″(8/4) thick lumber and you need to get to a thickness of 1 1/2″(6/4).  You would first use the fore plane to get done roughly close to the thickness.  Or you could pay $440 for a nice lunchbox thickness planer that would make light work of it.  More on that later.  Then you would use a jointer plane (#7 or #8) to smooth the side that you were working on.  Because I wasn’t worried about smoothing things out with the fore plane, I just had to make sure that the sole was somewhat true.  I did a little lapping and the toe and heel were true.  The fun part of tuning this plane is sharpening the iron.  The iron on this hand plane is shaped with a curve on the cutting end.  I used a 9″ radius and ground the iron to shape and sharpened it with water stones.  It took a lot of work to sharpen this iron because of its shape, but I enjoyed it.  I guess I am really getting into this.  I enjoy using this plane the most and it makes short work of getting stock down to the desired thickness.

I hope that by reading my experiences, you will be aware of what is involved in tuning a hand plane and being aware of what to looking for if you are buying a hand plane online.  Pictures are worth a thousand words.  I would say that each plane except the #6 took about 4 hours to tune.  I hope this helps those fellow novice woodworkers who are researching and shopping for tools online like I am.  Good luck!

A dollar saved..

I consider myself pretty handy with a set of tools.  I have been rehabing a few of my power tools that I haven’t used in years.  I began with the drill press.  It was covered in rust and I wasn’t sure that the table was dialed in properly.  I picked up a box of refinishing pad and some rust remover from a local tool supplier.  What I wouldn’t give for a buffer!  

After that, I picked up a Craftsman 6″ jointer on Craigslist for super cheap.  The surface was true, but had surface rust.  The jointer is about 50 years old, but everything works perfectly.  I double checked the knife assembly and fence with a dial indicator and straightedge.  I again used the rust remover and applied paste wax to the bed.  I also had to built a cabinet for the machine to set on and house the motor.

With so much confidence at this point, I found a used table saw built by Rockwell.  Rockwell is now a part of Delta which builds great  machines.  The Rockwell saws have a great reputation and probably the reason why Delta bought them.  The example I bought looked to be in great condition.  The table top was clean and flat for the most part.  It ran well, but was missing a few parts that I new I could get from Delta.  We struck a deal and I took the saw home.  I felt some conviction because the saw didn’t have a wood splitter or blade guard.  For those that don’t know, a splitter and blade guard basically keep you from being hit by wood if a kickback occurs and keeps you from cutting your fingers off.  I contacted Delta and spoke with a rep who I provided the model number and what I needed.  She was able to tell me every part that I needed to get the splitter and guard for the saw.  I placed the order.  Within a few days, I received a call for parts pickup.  I was so excited that I would be able to use the saw.  The clerk rang up my order and it was more than what I paid for the saw itself.  With heart in throat, I took my bag of parts home and assembled the table for use.  I am still excited about using the saw and it works great, but not so much with paying a brand new price for a used saw at this point.  I put a dial indicator to the arbor and it could probably be replaced, but I will disclose that to the person who buys this saw next.

The next tool I picked up was a planer.  I found one online that I liked and called the distributor and placed an order for a brand new one.

It’s fun to refurb, but not when you are on a tight budget.  I am still looking for a bandsaw.  I have refurbed one inthe past and now that I have some experience from the table saw, I might consider a used one.

Something ordinary

I have been out of sync with my blog for some time and it has been eating at me.  I thought I was having writer’s block or something interesting to blame.  Truth be told, I have been pretty boring lately.  I am recovering and seeking new things that I will be keeping you posted on in the near future.

First of all, the car is on hold until I have the $$ to purchase a better condition car than I had originally thought that I wanted to tackle.  This comes from looking at several local cars for sale that suffer from some serious cancer(rust).  I am willing to do some body work, but what I have seen requires some more experienced hands than mine at this time.  

Second to that, I have been doing some soul searching and trying to listen to myself.  No, I don’t mean that I talk to myself.  I have been evaluating the things that make me happy and those that do not.  I had previously revisited an old love when I built my work table.  Man, I love that thing!  Of course, I can never leave well enough alone.  “Table with a vise” is being replaced with a Holtzapffel workbench that I am building.  This bench is geared more for woodworking and incorporates two types of vises, a face vise and end vise.  I am interested in the bench because I want to revisit woodworking.  I had forgotten how much I like woodworking until I built the table.  I have some pictures that I will post of my progress.  This bench is taking some time to build since it is made entirely of wood and requires some skills that I didn’t have prior to this exercise.  I am having to learn how to use hand planes and joinery techniques.  Keep me, my patience, and my digits in your prayers!  If you ever want to get into woodworking, I highly recommend podcast by The Wood Whisperer, Matt’s Basement Workshop, Modern Woodshop, Fine Wood Working, and Popular Woodworking.  I can’t forget about The Rough Cut Show with T-Chisel.  That one is a blast.  I am sure there are many other great podcast that I haven’t discovered yet, but this is the list thus far.  Of course, I will keep you posted with projects.  Shop time is a little scarce these days for some reason.  Hmmm.

Chances are…

This week I will be checking out a ’74 BMW 2002 that’s for sale.  The guy who owns the car has been very helpful and photographed all of the areas of interest that I have asked.  These areas of course are the major rust spots for this car.  Everything looks good in the pictures, but I want to see it in person.  I am willing to do anything, but it has to be within reason.  I am a little concerned about body work.  I don’t have the tools and know-how to do it on my own and the expense of the tools is very high.  We shall see.

One draw back is that the car doesn’t have a sunroof like I would like.  That might be a blessing in disguise since that creates more areas for concern regarding rust.  It does have A/C which I am most interested in because I want to drive it fairly often and especially in the summer.  I will keep you posted.

A bench of a time

I have been busy setting up my shop for a car restoration and I have almost completed my work bench.  I am so excited to get this project done.  I have been using the shop floor as my work surface for 3 years now.  I found a nice set of steel legs with stringers in the local classified ads.  I sprayed the legs with rustoleum flat black and built a top by laminating several sheets of MDF and coating with polyurethane to protect from moisture.  I attached trim to the edges that are 1/4″ taller than the MDF surface.  I did this so that I may lie a 1/4″ hard wood plywood on top of the MDF and keep it in place so that I would not have to drill more holes through the MDF.  The MDF provides the solid work surface and the plywood protects the MDF from marring.  I might mount a vise to the bench, but that would be the only mounting hardware that I would use for the 1/4″ plywood.  I want to make it as easy as possible to replace. 



Bench is complete.  This project took a week working about an hour or so every evening and one Sunday evening.  The hardest part was waiting for the polyurethane to dry.  If I had to do it over again, I might see if I would use a table saw to get straighter cuts.  Although, I am getting good at cutting a pretty straight line with the jigsaw.  I would also stain the pine trim a dark color instead of just using the polyurethane.  Pictures please!



The removable top in place.

Finally done