Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tool rack

It was high time to get my chisels, files, and rasps out of the drawer. I cleaned up some mystery wood on hand (it works like walnut but has a warmer color and is close pored--beats me) to make a pair of 4" wide boards and five 1/2" thick spacers. The whole thing is glued together and screwed to the cinder block wall behind the paneling with a tapcon screw through each spacer location. 1/4" oak dowel and finish nails serve as hangers on the front. It's basically the simplest version that I could make of the Popular Woodworking tool rack.

I feel like I can breathe now. The only problem is it filled up too fast. I do plan to hang a dedicated chisel rack off the lower right side of this at some point.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to make the cheapest workbench somewhat workable

Now, while there are many of you who can afford either singly or by two or three clubbing together to fix up a shop in first-rate style, there are also many who cannot afford even so cheap a bench as that just described. What can you do in such a case? Only one thing—patch up a bench out of whatever old stuff you can find. Patched-up makeshifts are not to be recommended, except in case of necessity, but when it comes to the pinch, and a matter of having a bench made of whatever old materials you can find or having no bench at all, by all means make one of boxes[78] and anything that can be worked in. For of course the boats, skis, squirrel-houses, and so on, must be made!

But, whatever you patch up, make it solid and strong. Do not try to work at a rickety, shackly apology for a bench that shakes and jumps and sidles all over the room every time you saw or pound or plane. 
Wood-working For Beginners, C.G. Wheeler

I bought this workbench as part of my first tool purchase a few years
ago. It's $140 at Harbor Freight and it is really handy. The drawers
are nice to have. It's a good size for my shop. I have found ways to
use the vise and bench dogs. Unfortunately it's really light and has
no rigidity to speak of, on account of it being bolted together with
wimpy hardware. It shakes and bakes under any pressure at all, be it
from sanding, planing, poking with a fingertip.

After having so much fun with threaded rods on the past couple
projects, I finally decided to do something about the bench. I added
2" feet to raise the work height to 36".

I routed channels through scrap 2x2 and glued one to each leg with
5/16" rods tying together the trestles and feet--cross dowels at the
top, nuts and washers counterbored in the feet. That size rod was
chosen simply because that's the largest size cross dowels I could get
at Lowes. I thought I could pull this off without removing the top (wrong) or I would have went with 3/8" rod and tee nuts on top of the trestles.

Lastly, I ripped, zipped, and gripped new stretchers (resawed, routed,
and reglued), glued those to the underside of the flimsy shelf
stretchers, and ran 3/8" threaded rod. Those have countered nuts and
washers at each end because Lowes was out of the tee nuts.

The result? Success! The bench is now a little heavier and a LOT
stouter. I'm happy. It still fails at a lot of wood holding tasks, but
at least it doesn't rack in a gentle breeze. Between this and my
Parrot vise, I can work better and have bought myself time before
building a real bench.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parrot vise setup

Monica gave me this vise LAST Christmas, and I finally got it set up. That is one sweet tool. The wood jaw pads with cork face are straight out of Frank Ford's playbook. I added the portable base from Rudy's playbook.

Some other handy items came from McMaster this week. Lots of fun awaits. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Luthier knife

Monica gave me the blade--Hock Tools, niiiice steel--for this knife as a Christmas gift, so I sliced a chunk of leftover rosewood from my banjo and made the handle.

Sorry I don't have a picture of the parts before assembly; I guess I was a bit nervous and hasty about gluing it. It's basically a sandwich of rosewood and a piece of maple equal in thickness to the blade with a slot cut out to fit the blade. It's all glued together with epoxy and aligned with a drill bit through a 1/8" hole. I later pressed a piece of brass tubing in the hole. I had intended to make the blade removable for sharpening, but it's in there permanently as far as I can tell.

The handle is finished with three coats of Tru-Oil and rubbed with 0000 steel wool and paste wax.

Tonight I honed the blade, and hoo boy can that sucker cut!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Router/sander station

I wrapped up this moderate sized project today (they always seem
easier before the first cut): a cart for my router table and
oscillating spindle sander. The sander had resided on the floor for
way too long and is uncomfortably high when used up on the workbench.
The router table is sized to serve as an extension table for the
sander, so they now live together on this cart.

Here are some facts:
- 3/4" birch plywood top
- 3/4" pine plywood bottom
- laminated 2x4 legs with internal 3/8" threaded rod, aligned with
1/4" dowel pieces in the ends. Tee nuts sit flush in the top. Nuts
exposed on the bottom allow for tightening or disassembly.
- 2" casters (they stink, but casters are expensive and I just
couldn't stomach getting better ones)
- 24" wide x 33" long
- 40" overall working height

The 2x4 legs were rather ugly with the factory roundover, so I whacked
all four sides with the Safe-t-planer, then cleaned up the surfaces
with hand planes and shot a quick chamfer with that little model
maker's plane. The rasp was used to clean up a rough bark edge in one

I wasn't planning on putting any finish on it, but the legs looked so
smooth after planing that I couldn't resist slapping a couple coats of
shellac on before assembly.

It's solid and wheels around the shop just fine. I'll probably need to
support the top at some point, but I haven't figured out the easiest
way to do it yet.