Monday, April 30, 2012

Brace & Eggbeater Storage

The pile of braces and eggbeaters under the workbench was getting to be a problem.  Worse, I couldn't remember what I had and sometimes where they were.  It was time for an intervention, one of the organizing kind.

I did a fair amount of research, looking for brace storage, but there wasn't much out there.  I wanted to be able to hang them in a neat fashion, and have space for bits, countersinks, augers, etc.  All things drilling related.  Since I couldn't find anything I liked, it was time to just build something, and design it on the fly.

Let's start with the box - how big? what shape?  I like to lay out the tools and a measuring tape.  This is about 32" wide by 24" high, and will hold the 5 braces, 3 eggbeaters plus have enough room for a set of drawers across the bottom.  After this point, I did very little measuring.

I have a lot of Douglas Fir left over from my bench project, and this is a shop cabinet, so Doug Fir it is.  It's easy to work and looks fine with a coat of oil.  And if I plan things right, I can dress it up with a little accent wood here and there.  I basically took old 2x stock and ripped it on the bandsaw to a rough 3/4". 

After milling, it was just a hair over 1/2".  Perfect for a little cabinet.

The carcass looked a bit boxy, so I added some swoopy curves to the front.  

The carcass was assembled with hand-cut dovetails.  Laying out the tails.

This little Lufkin depth gauge was just the right width to mark out the space between the tails.

Cutting the tails with a little 28 tpi dozuki.  Since Doug Fir has a tendency to splinter, I like using Japanese pullsaws for cutting the dovetails.  The last DF box I made with western saws had splinters everywhere.  This little dozuki worked well, but it was just a bit slow, and the kerfs were to small to get a coping saw blade into.  I eventually switched to the Japanese Rip Tooth Dozuki from LV, and it worked great.

After the carcass was dovetailed, then it was time to start thinking inside the box.  What to put inside the box, to be specific.  At the bottom, I wanted three drawers, so that was pretty straightforward.  The upper shelf was going to need some reinforcement to keep from sagging.  Also, I was worried about the Doug Fir breaking - the hang slots required cuts over halfway through the upper shelf.  So the upper shelf became a "composite board" - it is a layer of 3/16" baltic birch plywood, with a piece of Doug Fir laminated to it, and a strip of Goncalo Alves running across the front to hide the lamination.  The cabinet will be hung high on the wall, so the Doug Fir lamination is on the bottom - it will be visible, while the plywood will not be.  It's also reinforced with two 1" strips of Doug Fir above and below at the back of the cabinet.

Once I decided on the accent strip of Goncalo Alves on the top shelf, it seemed like a good idea to use it on the bottom shelf as well, and also as pulls for the drawers.  Here's a dry fit mock-up.

And loaded with the braces - at this point I decided I needed the reinforcement strips at the back.

Attaching the 3/16" baltic birch back with brass screws.  I put these tools to work on their own cabinet!  The ply is just screwed straight to the back.  I thought about rabbetting it in, but the 1/2" sides are just to thin for this.

Trimming the edges of the plywood back.

Here it is, all glued up, back on, ready for drawers.  You can see the reinforcement strip at the back of the upper shelf.

And the final product, loaded with the tools.  It's going to be nice to have these out from under the bench, in a spot where I can easily reach them.  I'll use a french cleat to attach it to the wall.

Wall-mounted with a french cleat, squeezed between the window and the dust collection pipe, two boxes of Irwin bits added as well.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So I Had This 200 Year Old Wood......

.......just laying around the shop, and thought I would turn a mallet.  It's the billet on the left, included in the pic of my mallets because it's a future mallet.

And no, it wasn't just laying around the shop, there is a story, of course!  I was looking for some dense wood for a mallet - I wanted Lignum Vitae but the real stuff is pricey.  I read about a company called Greener Lumber in a woodworking magazine.  They harvest 200 year old timbers from the bottom of rivers in South and Central America, and it is described as hard, dense and heavy - sounded perfect.

I wrote Greener Lumber an email and asked if they had any reasonably priced wood that might work for a mallet.  Lo and behold, some time later Richard Petty, the president of Greener Lumber, replied to my inquiry. Yes, they had something called "Bullet Tree" (Bucida buceras for you plant-ologists). Richard described it as "like plate steel", and very dense, but he acknowledged that it had some issues with checking while drying, but he figured that wouldn't hurt a mallet. He offered to send a chunk of wood, no charge, if I would let him know how the mallet project "turned" (pun intended) out. Well, it doesn't get much better than that in my book. Richard even paid for postage! I offered to, but he turned it down. Therefore, he is a gentleman and a scholar as far as I'm concerned. NOTE: I have no connection with Greener Lumber and I'd  ever heard of them before I read the article. 

 Long story short, I think the mallet turned out beautifully. See pics below, some of them also show the lignum vitae mallet I patterned this one after. It's not quite as dense as the LV - the LV mallet weighs in at 2 lbs, and the Bullet Tree mallet is 1 lb 11 oz.

Still on the lathe, before BLO 

After BLO

And next to it's Lignum Vitae brother

Monday, April 16, 2012

When It's Time to Stop....

.....I should stop, already.  This is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" stories, in case you can't tell.  I was working on the carcass for the brace storage cabinet.  The joinery is hand-cut dovetails; I like doing them, and I need all the practice I can get.  Here's a rough mock-up.  Of course it will have a shelf to hang the braces from, and some drawers at the bottom.

Things were going pretty well - I'd been working in the shop most of the day, and I was just finishing up the last set of tails.  The 9mm japanese chisel used for paring is really sharp.  I'm was doing it two-handed, but just for a moment I switch to one-handed.  Without thinking, the unused hand was placed in harms way.  A second later, the chisel slips and was immediately buried in my thumb to the bone.  Ouch.  Really, I said OUCH, not anything else.  Luckily there's not much meat between the skin and the bone where it went in, and no tendons.  A good washing, peroxide ( then I said other things, not ouch ), polysporin and a bandaid.  Good as new.

Good enough, I thought, to go finish that last set of tails and pins.  Saw saw.  Chop chop.  Hunky-dory.  Until I chiseled off one of the pins, didn't even notice, and kept going.  It took me several minutes to figure out why that gaping hole was there.  But it was really clean, neat chisel work, I told myself as I shook my head in disgust.

When it's time to stop......stop already.  You know when it is.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Resawing Douglas Fir Scraps

Every now and then, usually after a shop clean-up day, I'll gather up odds-n-ends Doug Fir scraps and do some resawing and panel glue-ups.  These are leftovers from my bench build, 2"x12"x16' timbers.  I cut away any pith, resaw them in half, glue up the bookmatched panels, flatten and plane, and stack them in the corner for the next project.  Lots of these will go to the brace storage unit I'm currently building.

This makes constructive use of scraps that might get tossed, keeps me busy and out of trouble, and I love the smell of freshly sawn Douglas Fir.  Although I do use the dust collector and the shop air filter, the fresh smell hangs in the air for hours.

And the end result can look pretty decent, even if it is just plain ol' Douglas Fir.  This one isn't glued up yet, but the grain of a bookmatched resawn 2x4 can make for some nice shop cabinets, boxes, drawers, etc.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mastermyr Chest - The Final Chapter

Can you spell P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N ???  I can not only spell it, I can execute it with aplomb.  Do you realize I have had the Mastermyr chest done for over a year and I haven't finished blogging it??  Shameful.  Actually I documented it on the Woodnet Forum - and it was deleted as it was over a year old.  Rats.  Anyway, here is the Cole's notes version, as I have probably forgotten most of it.

The Lid
The lid was my favorite part of this build, from the hinges, to the cut nails, to the hollowed underbelly.  Yep, the original had a hollowed out lid.  Those Vikings did it with an adze, or so I'm told.  Not having an adze, I used a carving gouge.  This is 8/4 quarter sawn white oak, three pieces glued together.  I drew the line freehand, carved a groove down the center to the correct depth, then worked between the line and the groove.  Came out nice.

After hollowing out the underside, it was time to go to work on the curved top, which is also a nice feature.  I used my Bailey No. 7 and took some pretty big bites at first.  The scrub plane and jack with a cambered blade left a really rough surface (I'm talking chunks), so I used the #7, then moved to the LV LA BU Jack.

Final product looked good, but it was hard-earned.

About ten piles of shavings like this one, and several buckets of sweat, will get you one Mastermyr chest lid.

Dry fitting the through-tenons.  I was going to ad handles, but this is not a very large chest.  So I made the tenons just a hair longer, and it gives you something to grab when you pick it up.

Checking that a full size panel saw will fit - just right!

Starting the rabbet at the bottom of the front and back panels.  After it was established, I moved to the bigger shoulder plane and picked up the pace.

Finished rabbet.  You can see from the second pic that it is angled to better mesh with the floor of the chest.

Glue-up!!  Always sweat these a little, but this one turned out fine.  The front and back panels are pinned with oak dowels at either end.

Squaring up the ends after glue-up.

Getting that just-right fit with the lid....

Loading 'er up with tools for the money shot.  This little chest will hold a fair amount of stuff, but packing it is a challenge.  The slanted front and back make it tough to pack from a practical standpoint.  I have not yet made any tool trays for it.

And the final, finished chest in all it's glory.......kinda hate to put tools in it now!  It has about 6 coats of danish oil rubbed in with steel wool, followed by wax.  

And in the end, the little toolbox led a happy life, hauling tools back and, wait a minute!!  What's going on here?  What's it doing in that cushy location inside the house?  Well, truth be told, it looked so good, the wife said we could display it in the house.  So it'll be here for a while, until duty calls.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Simple Saw Till

It was time to face the fact that I wasn't going to get the fancy hardwood saw till built anytime soon, and get my saws organized.  There have been several saw till threads on the Woodnet Forum that had some really good examples of simple saw tills, so I set aside my reluctance and got going.  This design is simple, straightforward, flexible and low cost.  And when I do decide to do the fancy one, the parts of this one can be re-used for other projects.

All it requires are some scrap 2x4, a closet rod and some type of shelving brackets.  I had some twin track shelving leftover from another project, so it was easy to use.  The top shelf holds the 2x4 with slots cut 1.5" apart.  The bottom shelf supports the closet rod.  I planed a flat on one side of the rod so it would sit still while I screwed it to the shelf supports.

This one also has two sections, one for big saws and another for backsaws and dovetail saws.  There are also a couple of 2x2s screwed to the track in several places, to support the blades on shorter saws.  I can get 35 - 40 saws on this one, depending on how they are arranged.