A Home For Saws

As I’m still in the progress of getting my shop organized there is one thing that I’ve been putting off and on the back burner to other projects; finding a home for my saws. Currently they just sit where ever they fit and that’s usually on top of the cutoff bin.

saw clutter

Even after I used a good portion of the wood from the bed for the assembly table, I still have a lot left so I thought it would be a good project to use a lot of the smaller pieces I have.

saw case pieces

I first thing I did was make four panels with three 1×4 pieces. I’m not even sure what the overall length was but I managed to get three panels flattened to 5/8″ and one to 9/16″ thick. Before I moved on I began to think about design. My initial intent was to make a typical saw till. One where you stand the saw on their handle vertically and rest the blade in the kerf of another piece of wood. I had laid out my pieces and used my saws to get an idea of the overall size and shape but my pieces were looking like they might be too short for what I was wanting. I could have made it work but I started looking for other ideas. Long story short I found an old Popular Woodworking article about storing saws. In there I saw this picture and knew where I wanted to take my design. sawcaseI don’t know why but I just liked this type of stroage better. Following this design the first thing I needed to do was get the angle that would best fit for the saw to hang. The first number to pop into my head was 22°. This was not steep enough for the angle of the handle so I tried again. I used a protractor to best determine the angle and came up with 35°. To test it out I laid a ruler until it made contact along the handle of the saw and lined it up with the 35° line I made on the panel. Looked vertical enough to me. saw angleNow that I had my angle set it was just a matter of figuring how I would put it all together. Two of the panels that were 5/8″ think would be used as the side and would be rabbeted into the front 9/16″ panel and the last 5/8″ panel would be the top. I decided not to enclose it completely and leave the back open. Keeping it all together I used a 2″ wide piece and connected the top by dovetail (don’t mind the horrible rabbet)

sawcase top dovetailAnd also about midway down the backside.

sawcase back dovetailAfter a couple of dry fits to make sure everything fit together properly it was time for the glue up.

sawcase glue upFitting the top actually occurred after this even though there is already one picture of it a little bit ago. For this I cut the rabbets and then kept planing away material until everything fit. That probably doesn’t make much sense but it worked for me. Once I had a snug fit I needed to make the kerfs for the saws to rest in. I currently have 6 hand saws that need a home and since the wife told me I was cut off from getting anymore I space everything out evenly for only six and no more.

saw case spacing

This was actually perfect because it gave just enough room for each saw without overcrowding. The cutting of the kerf wasn’t wide enough to allow all saws to be seated at once so I used a thin file to widen things a bit until every saw fit without being forced in. sawcase dry fitThe last thing to do was glue the top on. To keep things evenly spaced I used pennies between each kerf.

pennies in kerfsWhen it was all said and done my saws seem comfortable in their new home. IMG_6297sawcase backBefore you ask, yes a couple plates are a little bent but I wanted to try my hand at straightening them (at some point). Like most of my shop gear, she may not be pretty but she gets the job done!

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Taking it All Apart

I’ve been using my assembly table for a couple weeks now and this weekend I felt it was time to try and finish it up. I don’t know why but my brain somehow managed to take that to mean let’s take it all apart and start over. Not completely start over but close enough.

IMG_6238Like I had mentioned in my last post I never glued any of the joints so I thought that’s where I would start so I won’t be able to take it apart again. I had also mentioned using a hook type of mortise and tenon (not sure if it’s an actual type of joint) and didn’t get any pictures but since it was all apart I got a snap in.

IMG_6240With everything glued up I decided I wanted to start on the cabinet portion. What seems like what should have been an easy solution actually took me about two days of brain storming. Again using only what I have on hand my idea just happened to work perfectly. It’s just two pieces of plywood that were already the perfect size to be notched to fit in the top rails.

IMG_6243I don’t know exactly how tall they were since everything was just relative dimensioning. All I know is that they were tall enough to fit securely and short enough at add spacers on the top without interfering with the table top.

IMG_6246With the carcase done it was time to work on the the drawers. Again, being horrible at actually documenting as I work, I knocked out the first one without a single image of the progress. It all went together smoothly other than the fact that it’s a little narrow in the back. I measured about 1/8″ short but you can’t tell by just looking at it.

IMG_6260As you can see I still haven’t added a bottom but here’s one down, not sure home many more to go. It’s a little deep at 5-3/8″ but that’s what I had on hand and didn’t feel like ripping it down. I can just add a sliding tray later on if need be. Maybe one more this size and the rest with the 1×4 boards. Well the kids are down so I guess it’s time to head back out to the shop and start the next drawer.

Assembly/Finishing Table (with a long back story)

Over the past couple of months I haven’t been all that active in the world of woodworking and even less here on my blog. I spent so much time and effort to complete my bench towards the end of last year that when it was all said and done I think I just burnt myself out. My next goal was to get my shop organized. Project one was lumber storage and I knocked that out in a matter of a weekend though the lack of functionality of how everything was set up was still bothering me. That and I can’t ever seem to keep things clean out there. So instead of moving piles of crap from one work surface to the next, I decided that I was finally going to move my whole shop around. Here is what I was putting up with to start out with.

IMG_6165The front left side of the garage is pretty much dedicated to lawn maintenance and machinery. I had my lumber storage and saw bench here and would transition to my workbench after cutting my pieces to size.

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Here is where things got really messed up. I get my woodworking funding from selling frames. The table in the back is supposed to be my finishing table but as you can tell, it was just full of crap. EVERYTHING was done on my bench. That really sucked because if I had more than one project going at a time then I was just moving things from one pile to the other. That little cabinet you see behind the roll of craft paper was supposed to house my framing supplies but turned into a crappy tool storage.

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My woodworking area ended at the shelving where all my CIF gear is at on the floor next to the boxes. The mat cutter on the wall was supposed to be the next stop in the frame building with the cabinet being the last stop where I would get everything assembled and ready to ship. If you couldn’t tell, everything was supposed to flow from left to right and be productive to frame making. It lasted about a day and everything just turned to a mess.

IMG_6166Here is the last area of the garage. Not shop area, garage. Notice those bed pieces? They’ve been hanging out in the garage for quite a few months now. I had built three beds for my kids while in Pensacola but after we moved here my wife wanted to get the kids bunk beds so they’ve just been collecting dust because I knew I could find a use for the wood. And boy did I!

I’ve been wanting to do a few shop projects for a while but lacked the funding since I haven’t been all that productive. When I started moving things around in the garage I had thought about where to put the bed pieces when I dawned on me; break the beds down and use the wood for a piece of shop furniture! So simple I was mad I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Luckily they were built with a dowelmax and getting them apart wasn’t that difficult. These were one of the last things built while I still had all my power tools so everything was pretty square and straight. That was especially important because I wasn’t digging the stained pine so I ran my #7 over these boards until most of the stain was off. I didn’t measure or check square because it was just shop furniture and that’s just how I roll. IMG_6181The entire basis of this table is based off of available materials. The height, width and length are all determined by what I had on hand only. Here you can see that my design aspects slightly relate to my bench.

IMG_6182The beds may have been built with a dowelmax but the joinery here is all mortise and tenon.

IMG_6185I really didn’t take many other pictures of the building progress but here she is mostly done and already full of crap. IMG_6228The top is two sheets of MDF screwed together that I’ve been trying to use for what seems like forever. I also screwed a skirt around the top as a temp look. I’m gonna glue some planed boards to the top but as it was mostly done and I really needed to use it I just threw those on to cover the edges of the MDF. Although I didn’t go for the haunched dovetailed tenon, I did feel it needed a little jazzing up.

IMG_6230Nothing pretty but again, shop furniture. I’m not a furniture designer but I did go with the dovetailed tenon for a reason. With my bench, the base is nice and stable because the tenons on top of the legs sit in the mortises of the benchtop. With these legs, there was no tenon so I added two rails under the top that hook into the legs to give support to the top as well as help square things up. IMG_6231These aren’t exactly mortised but rather hook into the base. I didn’t get a picture of the rail hook but here is it’s mating piece. IMG_6202The main reason for both these types of joinery was to still use what I had on hand only, or lack there of. In this case clamps. If I had done basic mortise and tenon, I would have had to glued and clamped them down all at once. I don’t have enough clamps that long. So with the hooked rails to the top, I could establish the distance of the the length of the top and since the bottom stretchers are dovetailed, I could just hammer them in from the side without worrying that they would spread apart. Make sense? Well in the world of Dan it definitely does. It’s not complete because I am going to add a cabinet on the bottom where all my finishing supplies are hanging out right now. That’s gonna help me use up some plywood that I’ve been trying to get rid of as well. That will most likely be a trip to the hobby shop though so I can knock it out in an afternoon. I hope to have this all finished up by the end of the month so stay tuned for that. I’ll also have an update on the reorganization of the entire shop soon.

Cutoff Bin/Wood Storage

I’m sure you’ve never noticed but I didn’t exactly have the best system for cut offs and shorts.

IMG_5474-2Well in all reality I don’t have a good system for any of my wood but we’ll talk about that another day. With the bench built, I’m starting to get the garage in a more productive state. That was pretty hard with a good amount of my wood in a two trash cans. It was impossible for me to know my own inventory and of course once I dumped everything out, there were pieces in there that I completely forgot I had. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Since most of my projects are small, once I get milling, I never really have pieces longer than 48″. I looked for some ideas for cut off bins but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was also limited on materials. I had 8 pieces of 3/4″ plywood that measured 24″ x 35″ as well as one full sheet. I brought these with me from Pensacola and I have no idea why those were cut at those dimensions but I needed to use them up because they were just taking up space. So I began laying them out on in various ways on the floor and after about 30 min of doing so, I thought I had an idea. I came inside and put it into SketchUp and came up with this design.

Lumber CartI wanted something for wide, rough cut boards I could lay down and also some vertical storage where my cut offs and misc pieces would go. The 24″ x 35″ pieces account for the guts and I used the full sheet for the sides. Each section is spaced 8″ apart and making it took about a total of 2-1/2 hours. Other than that spacing and the sides, I did not measure anything; nothing was even checked for square (and believe me, nothing is). The first thing I did was screw the back and bottom pieces so I had the basic shell and lay it on its side. Since the bottom two pieces are the same length, I measured up 8″ and made a mark. I placed the plywood on the mark and then got the vertical piece and placed it flush with the back.

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I used that for my relative dimensioning, marked and cut my piece. That piece would then in turn be used for my next relative dimensioning. I marked 8″ from the back piece, put the board I just cut on that mark and then placed another along the bottom piece and marked it. That process was done until I had all my pieces.

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What made everything a huge PITA is that nothing was screwed so my boards were constantly tipping over as I’m trying to get things marked and spaced. It would have been impossible to screw things as I went since my spacing was only 8″ and my drill was at least 10″. So once I had all my pieces, I marked 8″ on the opposite side of the board to get things a little even and started my screwing from smallest to largest pieces. With all my pieces as 35″ long, I knew the sides had to be 35″ x 35-3/4″ without actually measuring the overall size. Once it was time to get screwin, I realized I didn’t have enough wood screws… But then I remembered I kept a box of 100 pocket screws from a kreg jig I bought a while back. I only used it once and didn’t foresee myself using it again anytime soon so they volunteered to finish the job.

IMG_5833It may be ugly, but it gets the job done!!

IMG_5839IMG_5837This project was much needed. My cut offs finally have a home! Next is getting my full sized boards off the floor…

FINISHED! The Split Top Hybrid Roubo

As the year comes to an end, so does my biggest woodworking accomplishment to date. It’s been seven months in the making (well five if you don’t include the two months I was gone) but I can finally say that my bench is done!  Split Top Hybrid Roubo At this point in time, I’ve decided not to use a finish on the bench. I’ve read many discussions and articles on the topic and to my own conclusion I’m leaving her al naturale. As you can see, I did decided to add the chisel holder on the side where I mis-measured.

IMG_5733It almost seems like it was all intended. Making it was quite easy. There was the set up.

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The layout.

IMG_5720And then cutting the dados.

IMG_5726Yes, the magnet is a bit of an overkill for just a ruler but since I had it on hand I figured I might as well use it. I attached it with two wood screws and basically fixed my mistake.

The center piece worked out better than I hoped.

IMG_5725The space between the two tops was 2-3/8″ so just shy of using three laminated pieces of 3/4″ stock. I used S4S pine from the big box store to knock this out. Only the center pieces were milled to get a snug fit. In order to get the flush fit on top I needed to notch out the space where frame was.

IMG_5721Again some simple dados.

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Once these two projects were knocked out it was time to attach the top to the base. For this I took off the top and measured 6″ from the sides and centered on the base and drilled through with 3/8″ auger bit. I put back on the top, marked where the hole was on the bottom of the top, removed the top, drilled that hole in the top, and reattached the top. I would have liked to sink the lag screws into the frame but I didn’t plan ahead so there was not enough clearance to drill from the bottom. They are attached with 1/2″ x 3-1/2″ lag screws but I’m gonna extend those to 4-1/2″ at a later time.

With everything done, it was time to flatten it all. Overall it wasn’t too bad but my left side was sitting a little low. IMG_5713About 20 min worth of planing produced a flat top.

IMG_5736And here’s a shot with the center piece flipped.

IMG_5737It extends 3/8″ above the surface and works great. I actually used it to finish up the chisel holder.

IMG_5730IN SUMMARY:

This bench was built entirely with hand tools. Not a single  power tool was used. Plans were modified by me from Fine Woodworking’s Hybrid Roubo Bench. Other than a couple of S4S pieces of pine, all the wood used is construction grade 2×6 from a big box store. Vise hardware for the wagon and leg vises are from Lie-Nielsen. I wish I would have documented actual build time but it took five months of weekend and after kids go to bed shop time. Thanks for looking.

Benchtop with a Bench

I’ve already established that my bench isn’t finished but it is usable. That’s enabled me to complete a few projects to get a little bit of woodworking income which in turn has steered me away from making any progress. Well I’ve finally made it back to bench building. Thinking back to the very beginning when I first started building the front half of the top, I thought of how my knees would ache from all the hours of milling on the ground just to get the first eight boards laminated.  Those painful memories have begun to fade.

Using the bench to mill the boards for the second half has not only made the chore less painful on my body but has also allowed me to complete it in a fraction of the time. No more planing on the floor, checking flatness with the winding sticks on the saw bench, back to the floor, back to the saw bench, etc… With the use of the bench, I seem to have been able to knock out the complete second half in just two days of after work shop time.

Since there was nothing exciting about building the other half of the top, I didn’t document anything. I did take the time to take a shot after I cleaned it up after I got it out of the clamps.

IMG_5710I did get the mortises in the top but let me just say it was about 2230 (1030 pm for you non military types) when I did them… That being said, I may not have measured things with my full attention. I cut my mortises at 10-3/4″ from the right side instead of 11-3/4″ so things are a little off.

IMG_5711I have no intentions on fixing it either. I thought about adding a chisel holder there but we’ll see. Although she looks done, there is still quite a bit left to do. The left side still needs to be trimmed flush with the front, gotta make the planing stop, I have to build the center piece, secure the top to the legs, flatten the top and finally add an oil/varnish finish. I may actually meet my end of 2012 deadline!

Leg Vise and the Ugliest Slinding Deadman

Have you ever got to a point in a project where you’re so close to being done that you just can’t get yourself to finish? I seem to be at that point with my bench. I have however been able to knock out the rest of the leg vise and the sliding dead man. The installation of the leg vise hardware was pretty similar to the wagon vise with few exceptions. The threaded rod for the leg vise was 1/8″ thicker than the one for the wagon vise for a total of 1-1/8″. My largest auger bit is a number 16 so it isn’t large enough with the bit alone. Once I got the hole drilled all the way through I took the rod and threaded it through and since the pine is so soft it was able imprint the sides of the hole.

IMG_5489I used a 1/4″ chisel to pare away the walls until all the threaded marks were gone. Once the rod was able to slide through without force I assembled the hardware so I could mark out the fitting.

IMG_5490I know I took more pictures of the assembly but I cannot for the life of me find them. Anyhow, it was pretty much the same as when I did the wagon vise install and in my last post you saw that the hardware was already complete. So what I’ve actually been able to accomplish from that point was the actual leg portion of the vise. In my original design, I was gonna go for something like the design for the “18th Century Workbench” that Chris Schwarz made. I decided against that for a couple reason and the main one being available tools. I didn’t want to buy any rasps or coping saw for the curve work. Instead I went for a simple taper. IMG_5510

Just like the stretchers, I used a 2×6 and some big box store 1×6 to get roughly 2″. I didn’t measure the thickness but left things as thick as possible. I know you can’t tell but there is a nice birdseye figure to face of the vise. Once everything was flat, square and parallel, I did a dry fit.IMG_5511

As you can see, things weren’t quite flush. I took everything apart and examined the bench surfaces. IMG_5512

Part of the leg wasn’t quite flush with the bench top as you see above but it was actually more towards the stretcher where there was some unevenness. After a bit of planing I had a better fit but still needed some work.  IMG_5513

Next was working on the parallel guide. Since I had already cut the through mortise when I assembled the legs it was just a matter of transferring location on to the vise. I couldn’t take the measurements and mark it out on the leg vise because I had already cut the tapers, so I clamped the leg vise to the leg of the bench and did my best to trace out the mortise for the parallel guide. After I couldn’t get a good trace with a pencil I took a chisel and lined it up with the walls of the mortise as best as possible and marked it out. IMG_5514

After the mortise was cut I made the parallel guide to fit snug in the leg vise but a hair smaller than the mortise of the bench leg so things would slide smoothly. Once I was happy with the fit I bored out the 3/8″ holes which were offset by 1/2″.

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If you think that the parallel guide is ugly, just wait… Now that I  had all the componets complete it was time for a dry run without the screws on the vise. Everything seemed to move smoothly so I figured I was ready to tighten things down. For some reason I decided to do this with the vise half way pulled out. When I went to check the fit I actually got it stuck. I could close it all the way but getting it to back out I had to reach under and lift the parallel guide for it to come loose. At first this worried me and I couldn’t think of what I was doing wrong. I’m gonna blame it on the fact that it was probably around 10pm and maybe after a beer or two. After some tweaking around a bit I figured it out. I closed the vise, clamped it down and then tightened the hardware. This gave me a smooth operation all the way in and all the way out. IMG_5541

I don’t have any fancy draw bores or wooden pegs so I just use what I have and in this case it’s a allen wrench. IMG_5542

Now I didn’t really document the sliding dead man but I did want to show how ugly it was. Auger bits and pine do not seem to like each other. No matter what I did, drilling fast or slow, little pressure or a lot of pressure, things were just UGLY. I honestly think it’s the “craft” wood from the big box stores because I didn’t get these results with I drilled out the mortises on the 2 by material. IMG_5543

Blow out on the back was horrible, even with a sacrificial board and predrilling the back. It is only the back so I’m not worried but I hate how compressed all the fibers are in each hole. These are 1″ holes offset by an inch so I just used the same oak dowel that I made the handles with. Overall it slides real smooth considering the track and groove are a less than perfect fit. I’m real happy with the functionality of both devices but if I could just finish up the top soon I’d be really happy. My goal is by the year’s end.