Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shop Art

Just doodling around over coffee this morning:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tambour Progress

Here's the process I've come up with for making the slats for the chisel cabinet's tambour door.

First I round the edge of some 3/4 stock with a nosing plane. Since there is no stop, I used the pencil hatching trick to make keeping an eye on progress a little easier:

The section of odd texture on the end of this plane is from the overzealous stamping of F.A.H. - obviously that guy didn't cotton to others borrowing his tools.

Once it's rounded, I use the slitter on a Stanley #45 to cut most of the way through...

...and then finish removing the slat with a knife.

The slat is then placed curved face down into a jig so I can clean up the back with a jack plane.

And that's it - one slat finished (well, actually two since it's double length) and many more to go.

And here's a shot of the planes used:

Since each slat doesn't take very long to make, I'm hoping to sneak out to the shop and work through the total a little at a time. We'll see...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Birch Shrink Box

Out in the shop, I've mostly been working on the tambour door cabinet project - figuring out how to make the slats for the tambour. I think I've got that down and will post on it soon. In the meantime, I thought I would show you the prototype of the project the 7th graders are working on in the school shop.

It's a birch shrink box:

Made from green birch, the box shrinks and clamps the bottom in place. The bottom is made the same way the top, or lid (see above) is made. There is a variation where the bottom is set into a carved groove around the inside of the body - much like a barrel. I haven't tried that way yet.

This was the first one I've made, and I experimented a bit. I beveled the joint between the bottom and the body, but left the top unbeveled. I also tried out some decorative flutes in the bark. The possibilities are endless.

Here's the box with the tool kit used to make it:

As a final note - as this box dried the bark came loose and I've since removed it. I'm not sure why this happened, as I have plenty of birch rounds that have dried without losing their bark. It may be that this particular birch was right on the edge of rotting - I remember thinking that it looked like it had been down for quite a while before I found it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hammer Hanger

After posting about my latest tool panel, the one for miscellaneous tools, a reader asked for a more detailed shot and information on the hammer hangers. So, here it is.

They are made out of 2x stock, and are pretty straightforward to make and harder to describe in words.

First the layout: I put the hammer on top of the wood with the handle perpendicular to the bottom edge, and traced the underside off the head - under the bell and neck and down the left side of the cheek, and under the claw and down the right edge of the cheek. I extended a horizontal line across the gap where the cheek lines turned down toward the vertical. I also marked the top and bottom of the stock with thickness of the hammer head.

Time to cut: I cut the (mostly) vertical cheek lines with a Japanese saw, stopping when I reached the depth marks. Then, using a coping saw, I cut away all the wood above the traced line, following the horizontal line across the cheek cuts. It was short work with a chisel to remove the wood between the vertical cuts to make room for the adze-eye and the top of the handle.

That's it, well except for clean-up, which as you can see was pretty minimal, as I was not too concerned with perfection. Oh, and I did add a gate made from thin stock and counter sink screw holes for mounting the hanger on the panel.

I hope that helped.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tambour Door Experiment

The last of my tool panel up-grades will be the chisel panel. In an effort to save little fingers, but not take up more space, it will actually be a shallow cabinet with a tambour door. I've never made one of these before, and I thought it might be wise to experiment a bit.

Here's a shot of the bench after messing about for a little while:

One piece of the tambour (do those parts have a name?) is lurking under the left holdfast. The tracks were made with compass, knife, gouge and router plane. The first was sized for 1x8 stock, but I decided that would stick out too far from the wall, so I tried a 1x6 size. Seems like it will work fine, unless I want those chisel handles angled out, in which case it'll have to be deeper. Hmm. Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tool of the Month #1

Okay, first the title is probably way to optimistic for my reality - but I will try.

In case you didn't already know, I love tools - especially old tools with stories to tell and skills to teach. I've shared some of these in past posts, but will now be attempting to be more regular about it.

The idea is I will pick one tool a month and post about it. I'll share its story if I know it, how I use it, any unique features, any questions I have about it, and what I love about it. So, that's the idea - let's get started.

"Worth" 16oz Bell Faced Claw Hammer

I picked this up with a broken off handle on one of my early tool hunting expeditions back East - probably Maine or New Hampshire, but I can't remember exactly. I punched out the remaining part of the handle, salvaged the wedges and made a new handle from local Alaskan birch.

I had never done that before, and at first I was rather intimidated by the idea. But, like so many other things I have learned on this hand tool adventure, it's really just a matter of getting started and figuring it out as you go along. As I worked on the shavehorse with drawknife and spokeshaves, I just kept holding the handle and pretending to hammer with it, and my hand told me what to do - thinner, longer, more flair, etc. In my mind it was going to be a round handle, but as I worked on it, the flattened octagon shape just felt right. In the end, I had a handle that was custom made to fit my hand. There are some pretty big dividends to NOT having a plan sometimes - in fact, in my experience, this is true most of the time. So if you've ever thought about rehandling a tool - I say do it!

In this shot you can see the "Worth" logo and also some marks that show a previous owner did some hammering with the side of the adze eye. Hmm. I wonder how this little guy ended up with that broken handle? (Not that the side hammering would do that, but I think it shows a level of disrespect for the tool.)

Worth was a house brand sold by the large hardware company of Bigelow & Dowse located in Boston, MA. From what I can find, this brand was made for B&D by Pexto, and sold between 1925-1945, which makes this hammer at least 67 years old. Cool. It also has a "REG US PATT OFF" imprint, which I find a bit unusual, as I don't see anything unique and patentable about it. Curious.

I also have a drawknife with the Worth mark on it (and strangley enough it is my "go to" drawknife, just like this is my "go to" hammer) but it also has an asterisk or star stamp as well, which I think I recall seeing elsewhere as being a symbol that Worth used. I'd love to learn more about this stuff.

Another thing I really appreciate about this hammer is the smooth, slightly convex face. I can consistently sink nails to just below the surface without leaving the so-called "French marks" - an old English term I rather expect.

And a shot of my initials - I'm not sure why I didn't brand this one - maybe because I was thinking of it more as an "owner's mark" rather than a "maker's" mark? Of course, I did make the handle...

I think hammers are under appreciated - but this one makes me happy every time I pick it up.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Down, One to Go

When I removed the last pegboard tool panel in the shop I decided to reorganize things a bit. It was a real mix of tools, and is being replaced by three separate new panels. I completed the layout tool panel first, and now the second panel is finished as well. Yes! More than half-way done!

This one was for the "miscellaneous tools" - tools that are used too frequently to put in a drawer or chest. I wanted these right at hand, but arranged in a way that made more sense than the way they were on the old panel (actually, some of these were never on the old panel, but were "upgraded" to "frequently used" status during the planning and building stages).

Here it is:

You'll probably need to click on the picture to see it closer (well, if you're like me and such a total tool geek that you pore over photos trying to identify each and every tool ).

Now only the chisel panel waits to be finished - but it is going to be much more complicated, with a tambour front. I hope it doesn't take too long - at the speed I've been moving lately I'm already late getting started on Christmas presents.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birch Spurtle

I recently rediscovered how much I enjoy eating oatmeal in the morning, and as I have been experimenting with making the real stuff, and not the "quick" (sorry William Penn look-a-like guy), I thought it would be fun to try making it with the traditional stirring tool - the spurtle. Or spirtle. Or thible. Or thivel. Or thyvelle. Or - never mind, let's just stick with spurtle (pun intended).

I started to look at designs on Google, but in the end I did what I almost always do and just let the tools, wood, and my hand guide me.

Here's the birch I started with - it's an air-dried scrap from a local saw mill that's been hanging around my shop for a couple of years waiting for me to start eating oatmeal again:

And here's what it became on the shavehorse:

Egads! Sandpaper! Yup - deal with it...

Here I'm demonstrating the intended grip for use stirring the porridge:

And a different angle showing how the form of the handle evolved - it is curved on the back to nestle into the web between my thumb and index finger, and has two angled planes meeting in a raised ridge or arris on the front that matches the crook of my thumb.

I tried it out the next morning with some Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats and it worked like a charm - added some Vermont maple syrup - mmm, mmm!