Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event, Nashville

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I guess I should have sent out a notice before this event to help publicize it, but surely anyone who was interested would know before they read my little blog.

I attended my first ever Lie Nielsen (LN) Hand Tool Event last weekend.  LN does these events all over the country, but this is the closest they have ever come to Memphis.  Since the event was “free” it was pretty easy to justify a little road trip for my wife and me.  We made a fun weekend of it.  I got the LN event and she got a fancy dinner and a trip to the mall.  Spend – spend.

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Nice necklace, Scott.  He just made it of a really long shaving.

I think it’s great than LN invites other makers to their events.  This was a real plus for everyone.  Scott Meek (of Scott Meek Woodworks) and Josh Nava of Suburban Pallet were positioned at the front door.  It was fun to talk with both of them and try out Scott’s wooden body planes.  I don’t think I’m ready to give up my metal bodies just yet, but Scott’s planes are excellent.  He has a unique rear grip that felt great, but is hard to describe.  It’s kinda like shaking hands with a plane.  You just have to try it, but keep in mind that it is dominant hand specific.  Thankfully he had one left handed model for me to test out.  Scott was also showing a prototype low-angle spoke shave.  Sorry no pics, but it worked so well that I put myself on the list to buy one when he gets it all worked out.  It looked pretty similar to one that Bob R. is making now on his blog, but Scott is using hardware from Hock tools.

Josh was selling / making spoons.  As a failed spoon carver, I was impressed with his work.  Lindsay (my wife) was also impressed with his craft and bought a butter spreader at a good price.  Check out his website here.

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Sorry, no pics of the LN area.  I was too busy playing with the tools to take pictures.  You can find lots of those online anyway.

I also met a few LN reps that were really helpful.  First was Deneb Puchalski.  I’ve seen some of his youtube videos, so I recognized him right away.  In his videos he’s really controlled and level – not so in person.  He’s a colorful sort who enjoys a good argument more than I do (which is quite a bit).  He spent a lot of time answering all of my questions and trying to convince me that my Stanley planes and planing technique needed improvement.  I tried his technique, but was unconvinced.  His planes were more convincing.  I’m partial to my souped-up Stanley’s, but I see the advantages to the Lie Nielsen’s.  I think I may need one or two of them to know for sure, but I’ll have to find some extra cash for that experiment.

Another helpful rep was Keaven.  She’s a woodworker who works for LN (not just road trips).  She has a great blog at K.Willa.Designs. Her blog is a useful one for woodworkers because it covers topics that are adjacent to woodworking like refinishing and upholstery.  I’ve read a few of her upholstery posts and she has me thinking I could try that sometime.  Lindsay did say we needed a new couch. Hmmm

The real point of this post was to say that if you are ever able to attend one of these events, do it.  For those who can’t spare the time or cash to spend weeks at classes or tour distant tool showrooms, this is almost the only way to try out these premium tools without buying them.  Besides, these events are “free”.  There is no admission, but don’t expect to leave there with as much money as you brought with you.  I know I didn’t.  The tools were just too tempting.

Bob Jones

Thanks, Tim Manney

Manney_horse_1

For freely giving away your design of a great shaving horse.  I just finished building this horse and I have been breaking it in by shaving legs and rungs for a few stools.  This horse is a great improvement over my lumber horse (which is perfectly adequate).  Tim’s design is easy to build, lightweight, quickly adjustable, and grips like a gorilla.

This is not a how-to post from me.  Tim has already taken care of that here.  He has at least 3 posts on the topic and lots of other helpful info on his blog.  I certainly have enjoyed reading all of it (yes, all of it).

Here are a few mods I made from Tim’s horse.

– I used 8/4 cypress for the frame, legs, and platform.  I already had the cypress and it’s lightweight.  I hope it will hold up to normal wear and tear.

– The moving pieces are cherry/walnut from my scrap pile.

– I added about 10 inches to the length of the rails compared to Tim, but after using it a few hours I think shorter would work fine.

One warning – drilling the holes for the hinge pin is the most critical part of this build.  I do all my drilling free-hand (no press) and I messed up every hole the first time I drilled them.  It was a frustrating experience.  Usually I can free-hand holes to be close enough, but the tolerances on these are tight.  I ended up making improvements to my drilling setup that I will post about later.  If you have a drill press, this will not be a problem.

Manney_Horse_3

I added a little leather to the leading edge of the head.  The leather is contained in a shallow rabbet on both faces with a radius to connect them.  No moulding planes here, just a jack plane following an arc drawn with a compass.  This method worked great.  I used lots of tape, spacers, and clamps to glue the leather to the head.  So far, so good.

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The seat was my first experiment into seat carving.  The convex contours were shaped with a draw knife and the concave contours were shaped with a homemade “gouge”.  I don’t own any seat carving tools to create a hollow, but I did have a beat-up 1 inch chisel.  I put a radius on the edge (maybe 4 inch?) and used it like a flat gouge.  It worked great for traversing the board (side to side) and left lots of shallow grooves that look fine to my eye.  I still need to add finish, but I’m having too much fun using it right now to stop and smell the oil.

Bob Jones

 

 

The worst chisel review, ever.

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3 types of commonly available “mid-level” chisels

A good review would show plenty of close-ups of important details on the chisels and tell you how many mallet swings it takes to dull the tool in several types of wood.  This is not that kind of review, so stop reading now if that is what you need.  This is a more touchy-feely review.

I’m not big on reviewing multiple options of any one thing.  The biggest problem is that it involves buying more than one of the same thing.  No sponsors here, and no ironmongers sending me stuff to review (maybe this year?).  For this instance I will make an exception because I recently decided to experiment with different chisels and I learned a little in the process that I think could benefit others.

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Here are the chisels in this comparison.  From left to right are Ashley Iles Mk2, Vintage Stanley Sockets, and new Stanley Sweetheart 750’s.  The picture shows a 3/4 and 1/4 inch of each type, which are the sizes that I use most often.

Ahley Iles Mk2 bevel edge chisels (on the left)

These were my primary user chisels for a few years.  They are excellent.  I have no complaints and no cons.  They are made from good steel that dulls without chipping the edge which makes them easy to sharpen and resharpen.  I always thought they held an edge well.  One really nice feature is the slight hollow grind on the back, which makes initial flattening really fast.  Highly recommended.  Buy them from Joel at TFWW and support a support a good business.

Vintage Stanley socket chisels (in the middle)

The two chisels in the middle do not really qualify as 750’s, but they are good vintage chisels.  I bought these from a reputable tool dealer because I wanted to see what the fuss was about with socket chisels.  Vintage tools are always the riskier option because you never know what you will get until you set them up and use them a while.  The steel has a lot of history that can be checkered.  As with all vintage tools initial sharpening took a while.  Small pitts on the back had to be lapped out and the bevels needed to be correctly ground.  After the initial sharpening I was really impressed.  These chisels felt different in my hands than my AI chisels.  Without thinking, I tend to hold these at the base of the socket in use.  I generally held the AI’s by the handles.  Overall they were great, except the time required to put them to work and the variability that is inevitable in vintage iron that may or may not have been abused by former hacks owners.

New Stanley Sweetheart 750 chisels (on your right)

I bought the 8 piece set on a splurge. I paid full price from my friends at the woodwork shop. They are surprisingly light, which feels great with the smaller ones but a little strange with the two largest. Why buy them?  I liked the vintage sockets and I thought the new ones may be even better.  I’d say they are a close tie, straight out of the box.  As received, the Stanley’s all have lands (edges) that are too thick for my liking.  The Ashley Iles chisels spoiled me, I suppose.  Other than the lands, these are great chisels.  Made in the UK, and priced in the “middle” of modern options.  You can’t go wrong with them for cabinet work.

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My improved Stanley Sweetheart 750, 3/4inch chisel

I decided to take a chance on a modification of the new Stanley’s.  I asked a machinist friend who is good with a grinder to make the Stanleys look more like my AI chisels.  He did a commendable job, don’t you think?  After this improvement to the Stanleys, I sold the Ashley Iles.  I learned that I really liked the feel and balance of the socket chisels and with the lands now even, the edge went to the Stanley’s.  I sold the vintage Stanleys because I didn’t want to grind down the lands of the vintage chisels.  It just seemed wrong.

The new Stanley’s are really nice and were easy to sharpen.  The backs were all pretty flat.  I will admit, that if I had not ground the lands down, the Ashley Iles would have won out.  They are made to perfection, for a tanged chisel for cabinet work.

Why bother to post the “worst” review of anything? Because there is a lesson to learn.  There is no perfect tool, there is only the silly desire for perfection in our possessions.  The drive to have the best thing out there, or at least the best thing we can find today.  If I could stop this stupid behavior, I would live happier and longer.  I don’t think I can stop anymore than you.  To perfection we will strive!

Bob Jones

Operators are waiting – call now

finished

Well, I did it.  I finished the St Jude Half Marathon.  I even beat my target time. Sorry if that sounds prideful; it was all for the kids.  Now it’s your turn.  If you made a pledge to donate based on my satisfactory finish, now is the time to follow-through.  Here is the info again, in case you missed it the fist time.

A big thanks to those of you who have already donated!

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I am participating in finished the St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon to support the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Hero, I have a personal goal to raise $150 for the kids of St. Jude.

Will you help me support St. Jude by donating today?

How your donation helps:

  • Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing and food.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, by 2020. They won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago.

Please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you for your support!

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2673290&pg=personal&fr_id=20064

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In other news, I’ll be back at the woodwork shop in Memphis again this Saturday and Monday night.  Saturday is a free demo on using hand planes, and Monday night is the hand plane basics class.  Check out their website for details.  Why not take a break from your Christmas shopping and drop by for some festive woodworking.  Reportedly they have a new fancy workbench, so it may be worth coming just to check it out.

Bob Jones

Crossing the line (for a worthy cause)

child

As a child, I always looked forward to the St. Jude Bike-a-thon. It was a perfect combination of playing outside, free snacks, and the chance to win a prize.  The Bike-a-thon day was a big deal to my brother and me.  One year he fell off the top bunk bed and, when he finally stopped crying, he could only walk doubled over.  My mom said that we would have to miss the Bike-a-thon and he immediately stood straight up and ran out the door.  He may have been faking a little.

For anyone living under a rock, St. Jude is a hospital fighting cancer in children (and AIDS and other hopeless diseases).  They never turn kids away because of money, so they do a lot of fundraising.  The Bike-a-thon was a fundraiser and I remember being pretty good at collecting the funds.  Now I realize that it was easy because the cause was noble and I was a cute little kid.  I would take my pledge sheet around and fill it up with donations fast.  Times have changed as I have aged.  Now if a 36-year old man knocks on the door, no one answers.

So I’m going to cross a line on this blog and ask you, the readers (even you international types), to do something.  Consider donating to St. Jude.  I’m running in a half marathon in early December and I am having no luck in fundraising.  I guess I don’t have the same appeal as I had at age seven.  What gives?

running

Hopefully I’ll be able to cross the finish line after 13 miles of running.  I’ve never run that far before, so it’s not guaranteed.  Here’s the professionally crafted wording, guaranteed to improve your gifting desires.

I am participating in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend to support the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Hero, I have a personal goal to raise $150 for the kids of St. Jude.

Will you help me support St. Jude by donating today?

How your donation helps:

  • Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for anything, including treatment, travel, housing and food.
  • St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, by 2020. They won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago.

Please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you for your support!

Bob Jones

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2673290&pg=personal&fr_id=20064

Recap errors and how I “fixed” them

Finish_3

The dresser is complete and finished, but what about the rest of the story?  What happened in the background that caused me problems?  Mistakes.  Lots of mistakes.  With this post I’ll attempt to be transparent with my biggest mistakes and recap how I “fixed” them.  Maybe it will help someone else in their moment of frustration.

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1 – With a previous post I showed how to fit an out of square back.

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2 – In another post I showed how to fit drawer fronts to non-square drawer openings.

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3 – Mortise/tenon malalignment in the vertical divider.  Fix described in a previous post.

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4 – Splits in the vertical divider.  Fix? I planed both sides of the board (inside the case) smooth enough that the drawers did not stick during use.  The splits are still there, but not visible unless the bottom drawers are removed.

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5 – I also fixed a drawer front that was too short.  One word – veneer.  Can you see the thin piece of wood glued to the top of the drawer on the left?  Look closer.  While fitting the drawer front I removed more than planned.

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I found a thin strip of color and grain matched cherry in my scrap pile.

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I glued the “shop made veneer” on top of the drawer front (yay for blue tape and liquid hide glue).  After a little clean up with a plane it was almost invisible when viewed from the top or front.

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6 – One more fix.  On one drawer I plowed the groove for the bottom too high (3/4 inch from the bottom rather than 1/2 inch).  That would have been easily fixed by make those slips 1/4 inch taller and the back of the drawer 1/4 inch shorter, right?  Well, I forgot about the back until after the drawer was glued up.  It’s no problem to fix this with hand planes.  I used a rabbet plane to remove that 1/4 inch.  Thankfully the bottom pin was really big so the joinery was not compromised.  This drawer will not be quite as deep as it’s mate, but I bet it will never be noticed.

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I think I did this 18 inch wide cherry board proper justice (side piece).  It determined the size of the case.

I did get a couple of things right.  The design proportions look good to my eye, the dresser fits in our bedroom, and it holds lots of clothes.  I was also able to make good use of some extra wide, beautiful cherry.  All-in-all, the project turned out great despite the multitude of mistakes.  My wife is happy with the piece and doesn’t know about any of these errors.  Hopefully, I will have the presence of mind to avoid the temptation of pointing out these errors to anyone who compliments the piece.  If you build things, you know how difficult it is to avoid these conversations.

“That is a really nice ____.  Did you make it?”

“Yes. Thanks, but I really messed up the ____.  Can’t you see it there, and here, and there?”

“Oh… yeah, I guess so, but it’s still really nice.  I would love to have one.”

“Thanks, but I really wish I would have taken more care here, and not missed this here…”

Next time, do yourself a favor and stop with “Yes, thanks”.  Your friends really don’t want to hear about these modest mistakes.  They just want to know if you will build them one for free.

Bob Jones

My Favorite Finish

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I think the semi-gloss sheen of cured BLO is just right for natural finish, solid wood furniture.  

My favorite finish hasn’t changed in years and that is probably because I haven’t tried many others.  I’m a low risk maker who prefers to stick with a process that has worked for centuries rather than any product that was mixed from unidentified ingredients.  A steady regiment of Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) and elbow grease is just the ticket.

I’ve already written on this topic, so read that entry first.  In the time since that entry, I have picked up a few additional tips that have given me more consistent results.

 

fire

Thanks to my father-in-law for battling the blaze.

- Do not throw your oily (wet) rags in a garbage can.  They WILL ignite.  I lost my (plastic) garbage can this way.  It wasn’t even a hot day.  Since that incident, I dispose of my oily rags in a water filled ziplock bag.  

– After applying finish, try to wipe off everything you just applied.  Seriously, use more than one dry cotton rag and try to wipe it all off.  A thick layer of oil will gel and make a tacky surface.  A tacky surface will need to be removed with lots of forceful rubbing of a fine abrasive until the surface is no longer sticky.  Paper grocery bags and abrasive pads work for this salvage procedure but sandpaper is nearly useless because it will clog very quickly.

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– Apply 6 coats of oil or more.  Don’t skimp on this just because the surface looks nice after 2 coats.  It will look much better after 6 coats (or more).

– I wipe the whole surface with a rough cotton towel as the first step of applying a new coat and again as the last step after I have dried the new coat.  This process takes a lot of wiping, but it is not tiring because you do not need to use a lot of force, just a lot of motion.

– Do not apply a new coat if you suspect the previous coat is still wet.  If you have the slightest suspicion that the previous coat is uncured, walk away for at least 24 hours.  Coating over a layer that is not fully cured guarantees a tacky finish.

– Expect this process to take a few weeks.  Sure, there are faster finishes that will work for less patient craftsmen, but I built this dresser over the course of a year and I don’t mind if it takes me a month to get the perfect finish.

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The dresser, all finished and ready to be filled with clothes.

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The dresser adds the next piece to the bedroom suite.  All that’s left is to replace the department store night stands, but I’ve other projects higher on my build list.  Think green woodworking.  

I hope you have enjoyed this build along.  Writing it up has been a lot of work, but fun.  Who knows, by the time I get ready to build another case piece I may need to refer to my own instructions.

Bob Jones