The Sawyer’s Bench

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A couple of months ago I was using my saw bench as a step stool when it collapsed under me. It didn’t surprise me as it was getting rickety due to the fact that it was only secured with dowels. Looking back on my post when finishing the bench I can’t say why I didn’t at least glue the joints if I wasn’t going to use screws to fasten everything together. Live and learn, right? So in the meantime I’ve resorted to using my bench for most crosscutting operations. IMG_6827But when it comes to larger pieces I have to improvise a little bit and use whatever is in the shop at the time. IMG_6822All ripping as of late has just been at the bench using the leg vise. IMG_6835I was in definite need of a new saw bench. As I was getting ready to build one from Popular Woodworking’s website I happened to be browsing the interwebs and ended up on the Taunton Store. Somehow this reminded of Tom Fidgen’s new book The Unplugged Woodshop so I looked it up. Just my luck that there was a free preview at the bottom of the webpage and it happened to be the Sawyer’s Bench.

Looking over the dimensions I headed out to the shop to see if I could make this without buying any new lumber. I had a 4/4 cherry board that would serve as the two tops, an 8/4 maple board for the legs, an 8/4 mahogany board for the stretchers and some misc 4/4 walnut and maple for the aprons and cleats. I really didn’t want to use the mahogany for the stretchers but my inclination to not use any laminated boards was stronger so I dealt with it.

It took me about a full Saturday to get all the boards milled.

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IMG_6837The joinery was pretty straight forward as it was mostly lap joints. I almost made a huge mistake while laying out the splaying side of the bench when I marked the 10° angle in the wrong direction. Luckily I was able to catch it before I made my cuts.

IMG_6845For this reason I laid out all my lower joints before I made any cuts just to be safe.

IMG_6846My first glue up was the stretchers and legs. I used Titebone III and making sure everything was square I let it set for a night. The next day it was time to layout the joints in the bench tops. To do this I lay the leg and stretcher assemblies flush with the opposing edge of where the lap joints needed to be an just marked the edges of where each leg lay.

IMG_6849After those joints were cut I did a dry fit to see how everything was holding up.

IMG_6850The last bit was getting the apron cut to size as well as the cleats. I did this before gluing the tops to the legs so I could use the aprons as a reference to make sure everything was sitting properly. The first step was getting the legs square on the 90° side of the bench and lining up the apron flush with the outside and marking the inside.

IMG_6855The gap between the tops is supposed to be 7/8″ with each top being 6″ wide but due to human error mine ended up at 5-29/32″. I had a ruler that was 13/16″ wide so I use this as my gap to mark away from the edge of the top as you may see above as well.

Next I lined up the other top with the outside marked line and clamped everything in place. Once I was able to determine where the leg on the splayed side began and ended I made my marks and used a protractor to set the proper angles.

IMG_6857I used the marks to get the dimensions of the cleats as well. With everything ready to go it was time for the final glue up.

IMG_6859 A bit messy but it did the job. The last thing I needed to do was get the two pieces attached. Following the plans I decided to screw the aprons rather than glue. This was much more of a PITA than I anticipated.

IMG_6860After everything was said and done I now have an awesome saw bench!

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The only things I deviated from at this time are pegging the joints (which I may do at a later time), adding the crosscutting fence, and making any holes for any holdfasts or other items as he did. With my last saw bench I never saw the need for them so I figured that if I hadn’t needed them then than I could do without them for now. That could change later but for now I like it just the way it is.

During this build I also decided to purchase The Unplugged Woodshop ebook. I already own the Made By Hand ebook as well and cannot speak more highly of either. I do have to say that the projects in his second book are worth the price alone and if you are on the fence you need to just purchase it and I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

This is the first project I’ve built from either book but my next will either be the Cabinetmaker’s Tool Chest or the Funeral Chair (each is just a awesome). Non book projects I would like to tackle is his Dedicated Sharpening Bench. This would definitely help with certain sharpening issues I may be having as of late.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

Restoring a Stanley No. 150 – Pt 2

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While not 100% finished I was able to get everything painted and put back together. IMG_6813And in case you haven’t seen the previous post or forgot, here is what I started with.

IMG_6791Not sure if I’m gonna paint the “Stanley No. 150″ on the top of the arm. I really like the way it looks just solid black (well more charcoal grey). The thumb screws and clamps were primed and painted with a metallic paint. Looking at it I think a chrome type paint would have looked better but maybe next time.

The last bit is to make a bench appliance to fasten this to so I can set it in the leg vise while using so I limit movement. It’s been adjusted square and plumb and after a few passes on the shooting boards, everything comes out perfect.

I enjoyed this so much that I have another No. 150 ready to go. I also have my eye on a 26″ miter saw that I hope to get because my 14″ Disston saw just doesn’t cut it… I’ll leave that one alone.

 

Restoring a Stanley No. 150 – Pt 1

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten the itch to purchase a miter box. I do have a shop made one but I’m not happy with it. Yes, I could make another one and take more time in the construction of it but I really don’t want to. So while the weather has been crappy lately (winter storm Leon), I spent a good amount of time on eBay searching for a model that caught my attention. There were some decent deals I came across; some with saws, some without but nothing really caught my attention.

I came across a Miller Falls Acme Langdon miter box without a saw. The price was decent and looked in fair shape so I began looking for a saw to go with. There was nothing that really stood out to me in the vintage market at the time so I headed over to Bad Axe Tool Works to check out Mark’s 20” Miter Saw. It was on his page that I came across the Stanley No. 150. It immediately caught my eye. The size and look of it called my name. I read his take on the 150 compared to the larger boxes such as the Miller Falls I was currently looking at and made my mind that I would get the Stanley.

There was only one problem; none on eBay. I headed over to Jim Bode Tools; none. I didn’t give up though. After a couple of days I finally came across a fair looking No. 150 and placed my max bid. To my surprise I won the auction and about $10 under my max bid. Not even a week later I had the Stanley in my possession.

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Upon my initial inspection everything was in working order. There was some surface rust but there seemed to be no pitting or chips at all. I began to disassemble it and it all came apart with ease.

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The first thing I wanted to do was take care of all the rust on the smaller components. The wife needed a new battery in the minivan so I headed over to Auto Zone and picked up some Evaporust while I was there. I initially put everything in an ammo can but transferred it all into a small container for easier submerging.

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I let everything soak about 36 hours only because I had put it in the night before I had a 24 hour duty. I was finally able to get to it after I crashed a few hours when I got home and I was pleased with the results. After a wipe down and letting them dry a bit I put everything in a zip lock and set aside. Time to turn attention to the elsewhere.

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I decided to handle the larger cast iron parts of the miter box differently. I figured I head back to the auto store and try some naval jelly. Something I could wipe on, let sit, and hopefully wipe away the rust and grime. Maybe I didn’t prep it well enough but after the recommended 10 min, it wasn’t doing much. I didn’t want to give up just yet so I figured I’d wrap in in some plastic wrap and let sit over night.

IMG_6800I’m not lucky enough to own a sand blaster but I am lucky enough to have one at work. I brought it to work and took it out of the plastic wrap and give it a thorough wipe down. Results were not as good as I had hoped but they were a start.

IMG_0042However, some time in the sand blaster and I was finally seeing the results I wanted.

IMG_0043After I put all the parts I wanted through I prepped for paint. I know the manual states that they are treated with a special japan rust-resistant finish but I’m not trying to restore it to its original state; I just wanted a functional miter box that looked good. I decided to go with Rustoleum hammered black spray paint. Why? I just thought it would look better and it was a pretty good choice if you ask me.IMG_6810

IMG_6811This was only the first coat and you can see how the Evaporust cleaned the smaller fasteners as well. I left my paint at work but cleaned things up a little and prepped for the second coat. Tomorrow I will take it back in to work and add one, maybe two more coats.

Other than the paint I need to finish the thumb screws and get a new board to attach to the bottom. I’m hoping by Friday to have everything assembled and ready to use so stay tuned!

 

I Can’t be the Only One

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A couple of nights ago I was out in the shop going about my normal business when a thought occurred to me. I’ve been working wood for the better part of four years now and I still suck at sharpening. Let me rephrase that; I made myself suck at sharpening.

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I know that it takes a sharp edge to make a cutting tool effectively work. I know this. Yet time and time again I will push my blades beyond dull and make myself work harder. Why? Because I don’t want to take apart my tool, lug it across the room and spend what little time I have in the shop doing something that frustrates me more than when someone says fustrates.

My evolution through sharpening started with the scary sharp method and progressed through water stones and then ceramic (sort of). I loved the scary sharp method but I felt like I was always buying sheets and wanted something a little more lasting. Since my highest grit was 2000 I opted for the 4000/8000 Norton water stone. Here is where I went wrong. I used my stone without making sure it was flat. Yes, rookie mistake but at the time I was (and still am but just a little bit less now) a rookie.

I let it soak, sharpen via scary sharp and took it to the stone. Meh… I felt the sandpaper did a better job. I didn’t toss it in the drawer for the next year and a half just yet but it’s fate was already sealed and I felt that $80 went down the drain.

Later in life I saw some ceramic stones on TFWW that were on clearance. I purchased the 220 and 400 grits so I could regrind the primary bevels on some blades. It was around this time that I brought back out my Norton for a second chance at life. I hadn’t reground any bevels yet but I did start using my Norton more often as I let my sandpaper supply run out. Still hadn’t done any maintenance to the stone yet either and was still getting sub par results. Go figure right?

It was about a month ago that I finally decided enough was enough. My blades seemed to be getting dull faster no matter how much time I spent sharping. I had to get a better set up but I didn’t want to spend any more money on equipment. I let the gears in my head turn and when I smelled smoke I knew what to do. I stuck a piece of 220 grit to my granite plate and took my stones to town. Yes, it would seem it was that easy. I went to what I thought was enough which was until it seemed I rubbed all the grit off but when I took a blade to it I saw there was still a hollow in the center. Curse you Perry the Platypus.

My great epiphany came the other night. I should use my 220 grit ceramic stone as a flattening stone! This time I made sure to flatten it before I took anything across the surface. After about a minute or two on the Norton, it would seem all was well. I took a blade across the stones and after a few dozen strokes… no burr? What the??

In my quest of laziness I created a hump on my blades from the hollow of the stone. Even though I thought I used my stone evenly, that was not the case. Remember my original purpose of the ceramic stones? Time to regrind some primary bevels! I want to keep the 220 for flattening so after making sure the 400 was good I took a few blades I noticed needing the attention and brought them back flat.

Lesson learned boys and girls. Sometimes it seems to be in our nature to make things more difficult on ourselves for no apparent reason. Sometimes it’s ignorance, sometimes refusal to listen to logic or even turning an eye to something that is staring you in the face. I don’t enjoy working harder that I have to but sometime it sure looks like I do. Surely I can’t be the only one though?

What Have You Been Up to in the Last 4 Months?

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Me? Not too much. I’ve been around but not active here at all. No particular reason even though I have been staying busy working on a couple of projects since the tool chest but nothing big. Nothing to write about.

Even though I have this blog I’m not good at writing just to write. I don’t make new year resolutions and I know due to the timing this is going to sound like one but I really want to get on here more often. Not only to write about projects I’m working on but just to write.

So what has really happened here in the past four months? Well in a personal and career aspect I have job security for the next four years so that’s always a good thing. Back in September (around the time I last wrote) the Staff Sergeant selection board had adjourned and the promotion message was released. Low and behold I was number 968. The first couple of months of promotions were slow but I got to kick my new year off with a bang. January 1st was my promotion date but as it was a holiday I had to wait until the 3rd to pin on. warrantFirst new year project will be making a nice new frame and I’ll have plenty of time to do so in the next month since I’m pretty much taking all of January off from work. I do have a few other projects lined up as well including finally getting started on the “shadow chest” I designed while at WTI last year. I think I’m going to go more in the direction of fancy footlocker so I have to do a few mods to the design but I did buy about 25 bdft or so of poplar to a month or two ago to begin so what better time than now.

 

The Final Details

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I can finally call this project complete!

painted dutch chestIt took just as long to add all the details as it did to build the entire chest. I did give it my own personal touch that I haven’t seen elsewhere yet.

open dutch chestThe front-fall kept getting in my way if I didn’t have it sitting on my bench. I had it leaning against the chest but kept knocking it over so I wanted to come up with a way to store it. Initially I thought of just attaching it to the back but as I was brainstorming I came up with an even better idea. Use that prime real estate for more tool holding.

dutch chest front fall lidOther than the square I consider these my lesser used tools. I didn’t want them in the bottom of a drawer somewhere so what better place to store them. I used some 550 cord threaded through the catches and hanging on a screw in the lid.

dutch chest lid detailIt holds steady but I wouldn’t move the chest without taking it off or at least holding it during the move. Now for the best part; the interior.

dutch chest interior 1

And from the other side…

dutch chest interior 2Before you mention it, yes I know I have a saw problem. I blame Mark Harrell.

The mistake that I made in making the top compartment deeper by making the upper shelf shorter worked out perfect for me. I really used that extra 1-1/2″ in the top area to maximize storage.

Last but not least the bottom.

dutch chest bottomNotice I had to extend the notch next to where the right batten rests. This was to make room for the square. There wasn’t enough vertical clearance even after I dropped the square below the bottom of the front-fall.

I’d have to say that this project was more rewarding to finish than my bench. All my tools now have a home and are protected. Total time was about two weeks of nights and Sunday’s and cost was in the ballpark of $200 all from Home Depot.

Most surprising is how much it holds. Here’s s a rundown:

FRONT FALL

  • router plane adapter
  • 3 small router plane blades
  • router plane fence
  • 4 drill bits
  • 2 counter sinks
  • 12″ square
  • triangle set

TOOL RACK

  • 2 mechanical pencils
  • card scraper (behind pencils)
  • 5 bench chisels
  • 3 phillips screw drivers
  • 3 slotted screw drivers
  • 12″ ruler (behind screw drivers)
  • dividers
  • awl
  • making knife
  • marking gauge

TOP COMPARTMENT

  • low angle block plane
  • rabbet block plane
  • mallet
  • leatherman knife
  • 12″ measuring tape
  • pocket rule
  • mallet
  • 6″ combo square
  • 16″ tenon saw
  • 14″ sash saw
  • 10″ carcase saw
  • 12″ hybrid dovetail saw
  • 10″ dovetail saw
  • #4 plane
  • low angle jack plane
  • #7 plane
  • another mallet
  • bevel gauge
  • protractor
  • low angle toothed blade
  • low angle blade (higher angle)
  • 3″ t square
  • 6″ t square

BOTTOM COMPARTMENT

  • auger bit set
  • brace
  • coping saw
  • hand drill
  • router plane
  • skewed rabbet plance
  • half set even hollows and rounds

I think that about covers it. Thanks for following along.

(edit) As requested, here is a picture of the rear of the chest.

dutch tool chest rear

Everything but the Lid

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In the past couple of days I’ve been able to make some real progress on the tool chest. Let’s start from where I left off.

After I took the carcase out of the clamps I jumped a little ahead of myself and attached the lower lip.

lower lipWhen I finished I realized I forgot to cut out the notch where the fall-front locks fall. So I unscrewed the lip and marked my areas.

lower baten catch outlineA little sawing…

IMG_6554chopping…

IMG_6555waste clearing…

IMG_6556and I was on my way to a decent looking stopped rabbet.

IMG_6559It’s hidden under the lip so ugliness doesn’t matter. I also cut out the rest of the notches for the fall-front locks while I was at it.

IMG_6561It probably would have been easier to do the notches for the panel battens at this point as well but I did it once they were already installed on the fall-front.

I added the front to the carcase and took a step back to admire my work from the front

IMG_6564and the rear.

IMG_6565Next was getting the back attached. I used my skewed rabbet plane to cut a rabbet a little more than 3/8 deep across a 5′ board.

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I clamped it to the back of the chest and screwed everything in place using the whole board.

IMG_6570Then I used a flush-cut pull saw to get the right fit rather than measuring.

IMG_6571I added the opposing groove for the shiplap and finished up the back. At this point I was dying to see what it would look like with tools to I did some glamor shots.

IMG_6577IMG_6578This got me excited for the home stretch. After I fit the fall-front to fit vertically I clamped it and marked it out the same way I did the back panels.

IMG_6580I made the four lock catches out of one piece of wood that I cut the 2″ wide dado in…

IMG_6587before cutting them into individual pieces.

IMG_6589Like I had mentioned in the beginning, I used all dimensioned lumber from Home Depot and did basically no milling to any boards just so I could speed up this building process. I finally ran into my first snafu.

IMG_6590The board I used to get my full width for the front-fall had a little twist so I hit the catches when I tried to insert the locks. Speaking of which, up until today I’ve used pretty much every scrap and have not purchased any additional poplar. This left me short of wood for the lid, locks, and battens. Today I made another trip to Home Depot to get the remaining wood and decided to cheat in the thinner stock pieces and bought some already 1/4″ and 1/2″  pieces for the locks and battens. Anyhow, I took off the one catch and took off about 1/16″

IMG_6592I put it back on and everything fit nice!

IMG_6594One of the last things I did today was to install the strap hinges to the case itself. I measured the height at 9/16″ and marked my case to cut out the notches but when I fit them they were still too high.

IMG_6595I took off an additional 1/8″ and that made things fit just right.

IMG_6596Now all I need is the lid which is currently clamped and waiting. As much as I want to finish things up tonight I don’t think I’ll be able to. My loving wife has been patiently waiting for me to finish this chest so we can catch up on Breaking Bad and I think I owe her an episode or two tonight.

Sorry this post was so long but as this is really the accumulation of about 3 or 4 nights worth. If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with it to the end. Once the lid is installed all I have left is to paint. I am using milk paint and I can’t decided between slate or pitch black. Anyone have any suggestions?

Carcase Complete

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A couple nights ago I wasn’t entirely productive but I did manage to knock out the remaining dados for the shelves.

finished dados

However, yesterday was a different story. After I finished up the dados I did a quick dry fit to make sure everything was good. Only one of the three dados fit good right from the first fit. The rest I needed to take a little off the shelves to get a snug fit.

fitting shelves

Another dry fit proved that things were coming along.

dry fit

I took everything apart and clamped the sides together so I could cut the 30° angle.

top angle

This was one of those times when I proved how much I need a tool chest. Somehow I managed to lose my protractor and spent about 30 minutes looking all over for it. I had just used it the previous day but somehow managed to completely lose it because I still haven’t found it. Either way I just used the measurements from the plan and connected the dots and cleaned up it all up.angle clean up

Once I was happy with everything I did another dry fit and prepped for glue up. glued up

At this point I happened to notice that I made a little error in measuring. It wasn’t a matter of measure twice, cut once but rather the location of the top shelf. In the plans its shows the location for the bottom shelf on one side of the chest and the top shelf on the other. I didn’t notice that the top shelf measurement was taken from above the 1-1/2″ lower skid so I made my mark from the bottom of the chest. Now instead of having 6-1/2″ of clearance on the second shelf, I only have 5″. Not a horrible mistake but one none the less. At this pace there is a good chance I will be done by this weekend.

It Begins at the Big Box Store

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Today I finally got moving on starting the Dutch Tool Chest. My day started at Home Depot where I got all my materials and hardware. Why Home Depot? That’s simple; my purchase was mostly free all thanks to my Amex. Due to the fact that I use it for about 98% of every purchase I make I easily rack up enough points for a $100 gift card about every 3 months. Lately we’ve been using them elsewhere so this time I felt like getting some financial assistance for my chest.

I honestly don’t like buying wood from any home improvement store (mainly due to price) but when it’s free, why not. I bought 24 linear (or board) feet of 1×12 poplar. There where two 7′ pieces that were straight enough for me to take and then I had a 10′ piece cut in half. Add some casters, screws, a set of strap hinges, and a couple of handles (which I will most likely take back) and I was pushing close to $200. Throw in my military discount and $100 gift card and I walked out of there spending about $80. Even though the poplar was $5.32 a foot, I still look at it as a win. Since it’s S4S I don’t have to worry about the labor of milling and it’s straight enough where everything will end up (mostly) square.

poplar boardsThe seven foot pieces were perfect to give me the two sides, bottom, two shelves, the front, and lower skid with some material left over. After everything was cut to size I noticed that the boards were a little tapered in width. They were just over 11-1/4″ wide so I milled the boards to get them where I needed them to be so I could start the dovetails.

I clamped the two side pieces together and marked out the tails.

IMG_6524After I made all my cuts I kept everything together and cut the shoulder off the end tailsIMG_6526before I separated them to chop out the remaining waste.

IMG_6529I do wish I would have gone with a steeper angle for the dovetails but oh well. For marking the pins I had to pull my bench away from the wall in order to accommodate the length of the bottom of the chest.

IMG_6530When everything was all said and done and I attempted a dry fit. It was a little snug on the left side but a quick cleaning of the pins and another try and things were fitting well!

IMG_6534Next and last for the day was starting on the dados for the shelves. I currently have all four marked and ready to go and even got one started before I had to call it quits for the day. IMG_6537I’m real happy with the progress made today and can’t wait to get some more done tomorrow.

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