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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Pole Vice Adventure

I apologize to everyone that I'm playing catchup all at once on my blog. The band saw project consumed me for a couple of months. The only time I was not working on it was during times when I didn't feel up to posting either.
Anyway, with all this catchup, it was brought to my attention earlier today that I never did post my pole vice.
These are pole vices. Ever since I seen on a long time ago, I've wanted one. Every time I run across one though, they're always either already halfway gone from rust, or priced through the roof. These things are older than me. The way they are built though, they are solid as the floor they are mounted above. You see, when you hit on them, or anything clamped in them, the vibration is transferred to the point, all the way down to the floor, bot the table it is mounted to. It is one of those fine examples of how they made things right a long time ago.
So I went to a resale shop a while back. As soon as I stepped out of the truck, I seen the pole vice. I checked it and it worked. I almost fainted when the guy gave me the price, twenty dollars. As I about broke my arm trying to get my wallet out, he told me he had another one out back. Since I have a buddy that is trying to get into doing his own blacksmithing, I wound up buying both of them.
Then I got them back to the shop and they sat for a little while. I was still in the middle of the band saw project and my back wasn't up to tackling these at the time. One day, one of my young ones asked why I hadn't done anything with it yet. I jokingly told him that I was waiting on him and his brothers to do it. It happened to be one of those days when I was hurting real bad and didn't feel up to doing much. He took it seriously. Worse, he, and his brothers, wanted to do it. So, although I wasn't sure how far they'd get, I let them start disassembling it and cleaning it.

So they took it apart and cleaned it up with wire brushes and sand paper. I had to stop them at one point. I just wanted the rust knocked off. They were trying to take it down to shiny metal. I wanted the old patina left. They were doing a good job, too good.

Here it is at the point of them cleaning it all up. Remember, these are my little hard working boys that were doing all this.

They looked tired, rust all over their clothes (their mother was going to kill me). So I was a little surprised when they wanted to know what they needed to do to keep it from rusting up again.

Johnson's Paste Wax, like that Frank's Red Hot Commercial, "I put that **** on everything".

Here they are, waxing everything on it. Once again, they were trying to go too far though. I looked down the table at the youngest one, and he was studying a nut. I asked what he was doing. He was trying to figure out how to wax the inside threads of the nut.

After they waxed it, they put it back together. I helped them make my mounting block for it and they mounted it.

I was proud of them. They tackled a job, worked together, and got it done.

I had to take several photos of them with the finished vice. They have every reason to be proud of themselves too. With some elbow grease, they took a tool that is older than probably all of them put together, and made it perfectly usable again. There are not many kids today who would tackle a job like this if you tried to make them, much less ask to do it.

Here it is. I can tell you for a fact since I've had the chance to use it several times, this thing is solid as a rock. You hit it with a hammer and you feel no vibration at all. When something needs whacked on, this is now my go to vice.

I feel proud of my boys too every time I use it.

Shotgun Lamp

There is a nice old fellow that lives in the neighborhood behind me. He stops by from time to time to see what new project I'm working on. Some time ago, he brought me this old Springfield twelve gauge shotgun. He wanted to see what I could do with it. He had found it sticking out of one of his neighbor's garbage cans. It was no longer any good and the neighbor had stripped all the internal parts out of it that were worth saving.

I made a pecan base for the lamp. I used a lamp kit and threaded the wires down through the barrel and out the ejection port. My original idea was to have the wire running all the way through and coming out of the bottom of the base. The butt stock started cracking while I was trying to hog out the material though. So I had to stop on that and come up with this backup plan.

So, this old guy once made the comment that I could make anything with anything. I didn't want to make him wrong.

Chisels To Be Proud Of

They are not the best chisels. They are definitely not the most expensive chisels. I can now be proud of them though. Through some willingness to learn something new, and a lot of work, I can literally shave hair with these chisels. Also, since I'm developing habits to strop them regularly, and proper honing techniques, I now have the confidence that I can keep them this way.
For sharpening, I am using techniques taught by Mr. Paul Sellers. I find that using both my diamond plates and my oil stones work best for getting these chisels into shape. Now that they're sharp though, I can use just my oil stones to keep them sharp though.
I started off getting my initial shape done on my course diamond plate. I then moved to the fine diamond plate. I done this to all the chisels. This got them pretty sharp. I didn't want pretty sharp though. I want scary sharp.
So I then moved on to my oil stones. I skipped the course stone. The course oil stone is courser than my fine diamond plate, so this would be moving backwards in my opinion. I worked the chisels through the medium, fine, extra fine, and the ultra fine stones. I then polished them on the strop.
The bench chisels towards the top of the photo are my favorite ones. Below that are my carving chisels. To the right are my lathe tools. The other five chisels you see in the photo are ones I don't like. I keep these around though and decided to go ahead and sharpen them for anyone else who may come into my shop needing to use a chisel. For you wood workers out there, you know I don't want anyone else messing with my favorite chisels.

Sharpening Stations

Next I wanted a good way to keep my sharpening supplies neat and usable. I didn't want to set up a dedicated sharpening station like some do with its own floor space. I have problems in my shop making people who come in understand that some things should never be introduced into a wood shop. Oil is one of those things. Since I use oil on all my stones, it was important to me to have a good sharpening station that could be packed away and put up when not being used.
I built three sharpening stations. The one in this first photo is just for some cheap diamond plates I have. I built this one for others to use. I don't like anyone messing with my good stones and blocks. So this is for others. The main ones I have in mind with this one is my kids. They are getting into wood work now, and I wanted them to have a way to sharpen tools as well.
This photo though shows the way I made my sharpening stations. The work surface has a board attached to the bottom that clamps into the vice. This keeps them stable, but can be unclamped and stored away when not in use.

Here is my diamond plates. They are Smith brand sharpeners. The yellow one is course and the orange one is fine. The white you see on the right is a piece of leather. I have not put compound on it yet, but this is a leather stropping pad I made.

These are my favorite sharpening stones. They are Norton bench stones. From the left, I have course, medium, fine, extra fine, and ultra fine. On the far right is another strop.

Lathe Tool Carousel

I wanted something similar to my chisel block for my lathe tools. I actually started making one. Then a thought occurred to me.
If I made the same kind of block and mounted it on the side of my lathe stand, I'd be putting myself and my kids, who are often in my shop, in danger. The chisel block is mounted on a different bench, out of the way of any open areas. The lathe tools though, if they are to be within reach when operating the lathe, would be low and exposed. Anyone walking by them, if not careful, could cut their legs on them.
So, I scraped the block for the lathe tools and made this carousel instead. I actually like it better. It keeps them up so I can see what I'm reaching for without taking my attention away from the spinning lathe.

Chisel Block

This is the first of a few posts that will deal with my quest for sharper chisels. So first, a little explanation of the journey.

I am a guilty man. I am guilty of often working with dull tools, especially chisels.
Getting consistently sharp edges is something that has eluded me since I got into wood working. Most people I talk to or read about with regard to sharpening have suggestions that usually involve spending money on fancy tools and jigs that I just don't have. I have diamond blocks. They aren't the best, but I have a few. I have a complete set of oil stones. I even have a leather strop. However, everything I read on the subject says you need a jig to go along with all this. So I bought a cheap jig. It is cumbersome to set up and maintain a consistent bevel. So some people suggested I buy a Veritas jig. Don't get me wrong, nice jig, but I just can't afford that. So I used chisels that were "good enough" and hit them a little harder, causing chip out and a variety of other problem.
Then I was told to check out Mr. Paul Seller's sharpening method. He teaches a free hand method that doesn't involve fancy jigs or really anything special. As a matter of fact, he states in one of his videos to use what you have available if you can't afford something expensive.
Mr. Sellers is a refreshing voice. He teaches methods that, although they don't require the latest and greatest tools and gadgets, are ones that have been around for ages. I came to realize that he follows something I like to call the KISS method, which I like. For those that don't know what the KISS method is, it stands for "keep it simple, stupid".
So anyway, I'm learning new sharpening methods. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Before I get too far into sharpening all my chisels though, I thought of something else that I should be kicking myself for.
This has been my chisel storage. It's a coffee can and a vegetable can. This is not the best storage idea for sharp tools by any means. I have noticed a few times that there were dings all in the bottom of these cans where points of the tools have been hitting them. Although these cans are soft metal, that still isn't good for them.

So it was time for me to make a decent chisel block. I really should have my butt kicked for not doing this before now. It didn't take long to make, and it keeps my chisels safely put away where the points aren't damaged.

Shop Made 16" Bandsaw

So here is the new toy I posted about a few days ago, in it's completed state.
The plans I used to build this saw are by Mathius Wandel. You can read more about it here.

It is a sixteen inch band saw. This means that the wheels are sixteen inches in diameter. It can re saw up to ten and a half inch wood. The saw, without the stand is four foot tall. It has a throat depth of fifteen and a half inches.

It runs extremely smooth. It is even smoother than my factory made Craftsman band saw. This is due to careful balancing of everything.

In the above photo you can see it passes the nickel test. If you look closely you will notice that you can't see the teeth on the blade. That's because it's running.

The nickel test is done by placing a nickel on the table with a piece of equipment running. If the nickel will stand on edge on it's on, it passes the nickel test.

So how does it cut? Well I think this photo tells the story. This slice was taken off with ease. It is eight inches wide and the saw slices through it like a knife through hot butter.

This last photo though really tells the story. This is the slice you seen in the previous photo, held up to a light.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Soon To Be New Toy

I had planned on waiting until this project was complete before posting. I noticed it had been a while though. So I thought I should update you all.
It's been a long winter folks. I'm sorry this project has taken so long. I've had more bad days than good as of late and it seems I just can't get enough done to even satisfy myself.
This is my soon to be new toy though that I've been working on every chance I get since early in January.
It is a wooden band saw.
I needed a good band saw for resawing wood into thin stock. I have been taking three quarter inch boards and running them over and over again through the planer until they were milled down to the thickness I needed them. This is very wasteful though. I usually take over two thirds of a three quarter inch board and turn it to shavings in order to get one single usable piece. With this band saw, I'll be able to take that same board and get at least two usable pieces instead of the one.
A band saw of this size made in a factory somewhere in the world, is very expensive. When it's all said and done, the one I've built will have cost me about a hundred and twenty dollars.
In the photo above, and the next one below, the photos were snapped with the saw running.

Here is the saw, sitting on it's stand. I still have more work to do on the stand. I also still have to build the guards and such that go around it. It hasn't got too much more to go. The length of time it takes to complete now will just depend on my health. I will be sure to post the finished saw though when I'm done.

I know he question in everyone's mind is, will it work?

Well this last photo shows the first test cut. Keep in mind that I have not fine tuned anything on it yet. I just kissed the fence up against the blade and then backed it off a hair. Then I sliced this ten inch wide board.

The slice measures only a sixteenth of an inch thick, which is actually thinner than the eight of an inch I'm aiming for making for portraits. It cut this straight, with no tuning yet, like a sharp knife through hot butter.

I have been needing a saw like this for some time. I have always just worked around it and worked with what I had though. When a good friend of mine approached me with the idea of me building a wooden band saw, I was to say the least a little skeptical. I didn't think there was any way for this to be done safely and with any kind of accuracy. Then he sent me the plans for it. I looked them over. I studied up about the man who designed it. After all this, I can't say I was yet certain, but I decided that it might be doable.

The man who designed this is named Mathias Wandel. He has a website here where you can see some of his work. As far as I'm concerned, the guy is a genius. When it's all said and done, this saw is superior to anything you could buy factory made in my opinion. It has better fine tuning adjustability than my old Craftsman band saw. From his tests, his own saw, made of spruce, is actually stronger in the frame than a metal band saw. Mine is made of oak, which is even stronger than the spruce.

If you want to read more about it, you can go here and do that. If you'd like to order the plans, you can go here and do that. If you study it over and see all the hard work Mr. Wandel has put into designing this, the twenty one dollar price tag is a steal.