Stickin' It To The Man

Stick, or site building furniture is not one of my favorite activities.  Usually, building a piece of built-in furniture in place in a finished (semi-finished in my case) home or office is messy, crowded and very inefficient.  There are, of course, a number of ways to make this process a more amicable venture.  One method I have found to be useful in this situation is limiting my power tool usage indoors.  I try to make as many cuts and stock preparations as possible outdoors or in the shop, and those that really need to be cut indoors get handtool treatments.
A Last Minute Decision Means Cutting This One Inside The House


It's Just A Board With A Nail In It...

I have almost completed the ubiquitous/obligatory power-tool-beater-bench.  It isn't pretty, it's not elegant, and it certainly is not an heirloom piece.  It is, however, rock solid and sturdy enough to dance on (I may know from experience) and it should be perfect for everything from hammering away on some metal to setting up cuts on the radial arm saw.  At this point it merely needs some holes drilled into the top and front to accept several pipe clamps and needs some work with a forstner bit to allow me to install the Leigh Hold Downs.


Work It

Yesterday, I found out (through absolutely no research on my own behalf) about a brilliant new magazine that is being released to anyone with a computer...for free!  Penned in pure wit, WORK magazine - a comprehensive do it yourself journal - is being released in a downloadable version by the generous crew at Tools For Working Wood.

Okay, so perhaps I have used the term "new" a little too loosely.  In truth the magazine's first issue will be new to anyone born in the 20th century (or the 21st for that matter).   WORK magazine began its distribution in 1889, and in just the first issue (re-released today) there are detailed instructions on everything from making a kaleidoscope, to building a jig that turns a lathe into a tablesaw, to fretwork, to making a battery.  The illustrations are very well done and are thoroughly detailed and annotated.

The plan for releasing the magazine is to keep with the original distribution schedule.  They plan to release one 16 page journal a week, they will all be free and downloadable.  I downloaded and read the first issue on my iPad without issue, with the exception (of course) of my wife accusing me of being an unproductive layabout while reading.  The text is clear and the quality of the scan is excellent.  If you are someone who enjoys making things, out of wood or otherwise, I would recommend downloading this and giving it a thorough read.  If you find that you cant get into the text, the Victorian Era advertisements at the end of the publication are worth the download alone.  Click the link below to be directed to the download page for the magazine.

A Good Read For All Ages!


The Shining

I'm still working through the minutiae of renovating an antique handsaw for a friend and I am really enjoying this process (so much so, that I have managed to drag out something that should have taken me a couple of days into several months...).  In fact, if I can get this process down to something accurate, timely, repeatable and affordable there may soon be a sales area on this blog for some restored and PHW original tools and parts.  Part of this saw renovation was replacing the terrible existing handle on the saw with something more comfortable, but I wanted to save the saw nuts.


Environmental Upgrades

Last Thursday evening I was in the shop when suddenly my world came crashing down around me, rather literally.  I was at my workbench working on several projects, all in varying stages of completion, when I heard what sounded like someone throwing a drum kit down a flight of stairs.  I had the loading bay doors open (okay, it was the garage door) and a stray cat found its way into the shop.  It must have jumped up on something or maybe sneezed too hard, because it caused a Rube Goldberg style collapse of everything I had so perfectly stacked and strewn about.


To Everything There Is A Season

Many moons ago I tried my hand at some woodturning.  I am not normally one to give up on something easily, but my first attempt at this skill was so bad that I put the tools in a dark cabinet with a shaking hand hoping to forget the travesty.  The poor piece of cherry I mangled on the lathe looked like I had torn it from the mouth of a hyperactive rottweiler.  Part of my problem was that I had no instruction on the lathe.  I approached turning like I had approached so many other hobbies, I just picked up the tools and went to work.  For better or worse, I enjoy self teaching.  Often, I find that making my own mistakes, correcting them and working at my own pace is a good way for me to learn.  This attempt at woodturning, for me, was not one of those instances.


Chiseled Features

Several years ago I purchased a set of eight WoodRiver brand bench chisels from Woodcraft.  WoodRiver has started to produce some very well designed tools at budget prices, especially when they go on sale.  They have produced chisels, handplanes, screwdrivers, awls and other tools and I'm sure they have more in the pipeline.  This set of chisels was on sale for almost half price and when I saw this set on the shelf I thought, hey, half price chisels, that's almost as good as half priced burritos!  Plus, there were eight of them which included a 3/8" and 5/8" chisel which I was sure I needed.


Little Brown Jug

I love my antique pump (push bottom) oilcan.  This is one of my favorite tools, and for no apparent reason.  This tool isn't embellished, it doesn't have aesthetic design lines and its built strictly around function.  Simply put, this tool shouldn't be beautiful. It has developed a wonderful bronze patina from years of use, it keeps an oily sheen all the time and but most importantly it works every time.  I have filled this little guy with mineral oil and I use it for everything from oiling sharpening stones to accurately applying oil to small moving parts, handplanes, and and even oiling stuck nuts (it's not that funny...stop laughing).


Testing...Testing...1. 2. 3...

How sharp is sharp enough?  I have several methods I typically employ to test woodworking irons.  There are obviously many ways to test the sharpness of a blade; this video covers a couple common methods that I find are hit-or-miss, coupled with a few that I find work for me every time.  If there is another method you’d like to see, aside from anything involving my own blood, let me know and I’ll try to post a quick instructional.  
Thanks for watching!