Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bench Leveler Feet - Mark II

I mentioned some time ago that I would post the shop-made leveler feet that I used on the benches at school. These are an improvement on the ones I posted about a few years ago. The main difference is that the whole jam nut adjustment system is gone. I went back to the original design (see link in first post) of embedding a nut in the leg. I also switched the hex bolts to carriage bolts, but I kept the shallow hole in the puck, just making it round instead of hexagonal. These are very simple to make and use.

This is all you need for each leveler foot:

Hockey puck, all thread connector nut, carriage bolt.

Here's the process:

Mark the center of the leg bottom:

Bore a slightly undersized hole:

I usually bore the hole to match the length of the connector nut, but I didn't have my Stanley 47 with me, so I used the much less accurate "tape system".

Then I used my favorite technique for removing chips from the bottom of the hole - just pass the straw between the fingers of your cupped hand and blow hard - no dust in face, eyes or hair:

Tap the connector nut into the hole with a hammer:

After starting it with the hammer, I switch to a heavy rubber mallet and a piece of scrap wood to drive it home:

If you drive the nut completely with the hammer, the threads can become distorted from the pounding and the bolt won't adjust smoothly. DAMHIKT.

And here's the bolt:

The hockey puck foot ready for boring:

Don't squeeze it too tight, or your hole becomes extremely oval when the puck is released from the vise.

Here's the finished foot:

This one is actually wrong - I forgot we reset the adjustable auger bit for a student's project, so the hole is too big. One important note: the hole needs to be deep enough to fully seat the carriage bolt head, but not so deep that the square shank is recessed as well.

And the finished bench leveler foot:

The foot is very simple to adjust - just slip an open-ended wrench over the square shank and turn. These new feet have made workbench leveling at our school shop about as easy as it can get. I think I might have to retro fit my own bench at home...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shop Art : The Stanley Tool Guide

Well, lately I haven't been putting in much time working on (or in) my shop at home. Rather, it's been a long push to get the school shop up to speed. I'm happy to say it is now very close to being finished. I'll post some pictures soon in case anyone is interested.

There was just one problem. I had one wall that was way too blank. It needed something, but I just couldn't decide what it was. Then I found the perfect shop art to hang - "The Stanley Tool Guide". It's from the early 40's and is both practical and decorative. Well, decorative if you are a crazy, hand tool fanatic I guess.

I took it apart and framed the pages. Here are some shots - not the best quality unfortunately, but I think they show what I like about the prints.

The whole wall - and yes, it's pink. Got a problem with that?

And some detail shots:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gruff Goats

My wife teaches Kindergarten and asked me to make some wooden billy goats to go with the story they are working with: "The Three Billy Goats Gruff".

These were to be simple silhouettes, nothing fancy, so it was very surprising how much fun they were to make. As you will see, I thought they were pretty fun to play with too.

First, I copied the design onto the stock. I oriented the design to allow the grain to run with the long, thin parts to give them as much strength as possible.

Then it was just a matter of cutting the shape out with the coping saw:

All cuts made - reassembled for fun, and to show how I chose to use relief cuts etc.:

The goat freed from the wood:

The brothers three:

Posing a la "The Bremen Town Musicians":

More fun:

There was some kind of magic in this little project. It's hard to explain, but I loved it!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More on the Old Spool

Not too long ago I posted about an old wooden spool that I had picked up.

Recently, a reader sent me a picture of a very similar spool from his dad's tool box. This one was not being used as a chalk line - but was partnered with a plumb bob. Hmm.

What I particularly like is the neat way that the bob is easily attached or unattached to the line. Of course, I'm not sure why you would need to do that, unless it was to keep the line available for other uses.

Maybe, say, as a chalk line?

Here's the picture - thanks Ken!

He also wondered if the spools were actually part of the packaging for the line, and were then just repurposed by the owner:

"I have since wondered if the spool was sold with cord, twine or rope coiled on it much like the plastic spools used today. Then frugal(cheap) carpenters just kept it in their toolbox."

It's an interesting idea, and one that never crossed my mind before! If this was the case, it should be possible to find out by looking at old catalogs and such...