Friday, November 28, 2014

Woodworking in the Stone Age

This is the follow up I had promised on the making and usage of the plane design I spoke of in the previous post. (better late than never)

Bottom line: I count this a successful design, experiment & tool, but don't think I'll be making/using solid surface material again for a plane. I just don't enjoy the process. I'd like to make the same body in wood sometime though.

If a potential planemaker was already tooled up for working the stuff with a CNC router per the cabinet shop norm, they could come up with some straightforward paths and offer a nice line of smoothers with their scraps, with a pretty minimal investment of effort. The material is very dense, and feels nice.

I'm not planning on detailing the process, but have included photos of steps along the way. If you have a specific question, just leave a comment. Most everything was done using 4 tools table saw, pattern cutting router bit, stationary belt sander, and drill mounted drum sander.

Prior to this build, I made a prototype in a block of Cyprus. I really like the two halves method of plane making. I think this has a lot of potential.

Lessons Learned:

  • Geometric Design. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. All-in-all it handles well (perhaps a bit toe heavy) and looks good to me. 
  • Cross pin. I sort of trivialized that I could make this fit around the other parameters like wall profile and mouth opening later on. This was a mistake, and meant that in the end I had to place it a little closer to the iron than desired, making the wedge thinner than I would have preferred. 
  • Wedge Shape, I sort of thought this would be simple to design on the fly as well. It wasn't. getting the shape that fit the body and could still be tapped in the directions needed etc.
  • Planing angle. I bedded this plane ~55° It makes it a bit harder to push, but cuts well in anything I've thrown it's way (in most any direction)



This project was 80% about the materials, so it's no surprise that this is where I have the most to say.
  1. I didn't have true Corian® but some knock-off solid surface product (my source was leftovers from an auction). The main differences being that it has tiny bubbles (not as good as the Don Ho version) that come through when you work into it. I also suspect that Corian® is more uniform in thickness.
  2. The stuff I had, wasn't parallel and/or flat, which didn't become apparent until I went to glue up, this left a line. If I had used matching epoxy it would've blended nicely.
  3. "Corian" machines very nicely with carbide tools, like routing MDF I suppose. That said, I had quite a bit of chipout in the mouth area from the table saw, this was filled with epoxy, so no impact on function, but again visible.
  4. While not cold as steel, it's not quite as warm as wood. This might again be an issue with the non-genuine Corian®
  5. Its got a really nice heft to it.
  6. Routing Template
  7. Corian is 5 8yr old boys at a sleepover messy.
  8. Even though I know it's less dulling than my cast iron baileys, I feel apprehension installing/removing the iron. Feels like working without a net over concrete.

Maintaining symmetry 

Since only the bed and sole are flat in the end, careful layout and operation sequencing was important to make sure that the needed work could be done to keep things symmetric.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's Going on in there?

A while back (actually records indicate 5/30/14) I received a tapered iron by way of a giveaway from "Nice Planes" (which regrettably has since has joined the list of "no longer in production" planemakers) I want to share with you the process of how I often design projects. If you don't like to see how sausage is made, feel free to move along, in the next couple days I'll have a post sharing the build of this project (and after action report for Brian).

Like most projects, I start out shoehorning something new into the massive list of items I desire to make, usually under the premise of "It'll only take a couple days." Also per the norm, I rarely have clarity and just jump in, even though at some point that happens after my design process reaches full fermentation. I really enjoy the design process and since it always overlaps working or finishing another project, there isn't any time when I'm twiddling my thumbs.

My first thoughts were that in the spirit of the kit received, I should knock out a Krenov style laminated plane and put it to use. The only real problem being that I didn't NEED another bench plane (want?...always) Another problem is of course that I don't generally do simple and that's when my mind starts to wander and dream of possibilities. I want to show my random thoughts along the way, many will be left, never to be explored, while others may morphs into other projects. Some of the planes "not made" could have been better than what I ended up with, and who knows maybe someday I'll get the opportunity to explore them. If anyone desires to take one of these further, please do; and let me know, I'd like to see how they turned out. (or of course commission one)

*Warning: there are some images I have lifted from the web that are not mine, hopefully they are obvious, and I am not claiming them as my own work, but want to illustrate my design process

Layered lamination pattern?

  • Started out with Nice® iron (3-1/2 long, 1-1/2 wide, 1/4 thick)
  • Decided laminated plane ideal
  • Thought about stacked layered plane with scroll work filigree or Marrakesh patterns
    • Each layer could be CNC cut and stacked 
    • Great Wave or comfy rear tote?
    • (use dowel pins for ease of alignment)
  • Curved wave rear tote came to mind, followed by Hokusai "Great Wave" print (one of my favorite works of all time)
    • See that someone in Dresden has similar idea on a larger scale...
    • This could look good with dyed maple laminations
    • What wood can I easily get that is white enough, Maple? Holly?
    • In Dresden
      • Corian! It's Heavy, stable, colorful, machinable, warm to the touch too
      • Thought about thin layering blues & white corian for 3D print wave plane
    • Wedge for plane would be wood and In shape of boat from print
  • Think to self: Self, it will be a lot of work to make CAD models for this plane and tool paths for many layers.
  • Found local makerspace
  • Stumbled across white corian without looking, should look for blue
  • Consider epoxy inlay for wave design
  • Considered what some ivory white planes might look like
  • Considered scrimshaw And inked carvings
  • Boxwood not ivory, but white with "ink"
  • Remember my visit to the Sindelar Tool Museum and his ivory plow planes and "scroll" planes
  • the Beautiful K4
    Krenov Plane
  • Reference other inspirational design touchstone planes, Krenov, S&S K4, DaedTool Index planes, SMT loopyMacpherson's Art Deco etc. I admire
  • Some more sketching including Braun and porcelain paths
  • Think about porcelain & China delicate rolled edges
  • Eve from wall-e inspired by Apple and "the future"
  • Given solid white material, think "Apple" Or Eve from Wall-e
  • Research Johnny Ives, Dieter Rams, Bauhaus, Braun
    • The clean, modern, textured Braun SK2
    • See Braun SK2 Radio think about texture and minimalist future shape
    • Interesting the statement a "modern" plane makes given it's ancient nature
    • Ovalia chair (it seemed cooler in my head)
    • Look at the Ovalia chair
  • Nail down some realistic sizes for this plane
    • 2-2-1/4 wide For 1-1/2 iron
    • ~7" long
    • higher angle ~55°
    • No more than 2-1/2 tall to adjust iron
  • Saw documentary "Dear Mr Waterson" think about simple shape and inlaying a daily Calvin & Hobbes strip on the side
  • My "final" sketch
    • Decide I need to flip through  my compilation and find an appropriate one
    • Can't decide if it is aspirational for Watterson's  Incredible art or derivative and not what the artist would want…
  • More sketching "inside the box" determined by plane size leads me ultimately to this. I decide that I can probably knock it out in a couple of days (and stall on the shop redux), and if it doesn't turn out, then it'll make an interesting paperweight and I still have the components for a Krenov plane to pursue some other direction. Hopefully in the finished  piece you can see some of my influences and thinking.
    End result, laying in some walnut test shavings
    Woodworking in the Stone Age ... or ... Introducing the iPlane 7

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Come to the Dark Side (They Have Cinnamon Buns)

I like IKEA. There, I said it. 

There is definitely an undercurrent of anti-IKEA in the woodworking community "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." It reminds me of all the galoots that NEVER watched Norm, but knew all the details of each episode. Sure a lot of the things at IKEA are "less sturdy" but as a person interested in design growing up in the corn fields far from the big city IKEA stores, I can't help but be intrigued by the intelligent design, and clever functionality of many of their products. Also as many folks have found, if you pick and choose there are often diamonds in the rough, where quality is just fine. I hope we can all agree that good design makes the world a bit better.

I also appreciate the modern, playful attitude that many IKEA designs display. Most of the time Danish modern doesn't fit in with my preferences in the end, but in the case of our kids/guest bath it seemed that a clean, simple & fun design would be just the right choice.

Also there is IKEA Hackers. Since IKEA products are designed to work together, elements can combine into unexpected items well beyond what is advertised. This type of thinking stimulates the "how else could this be used" synapses.

This particular adventure begins when I pulled out the peeling white/avocado green tub (having been refinished already once) and learned that there was water damage. (Yippee, isn't there always.) Which meant new flooring. This got us thinking about re-configuring the entire bathroom, moving the fixtures and demoing a floor-to-ceiling cabinet that blocked the natural light in the room. Also my two kids were spending a fair amount of time "debating" over who was usurping the sink during nightly tooth-brushing rituals, so I wanted to see about squeezing a double sink in this cozy space. (yay more plumbing...) At some point, I came across the idea of back-to-back sinks and thought it'd fit better in the space (and reduce sibling elbow nudges.)

After looking at a way to use IKEA cabinets to make a three finished sided cabinet, that fit the sinks & space, I came away empty handed. Instead I ended up with a bold yellow painted cabinet that I think would be right at home in IKEA, and built from the remains of that original demo'd cabinet with IKEA (Blum) trimmings. The "T" mirror was custom, but is inspired by the Molger Shelf Mirror with the addition of nearly invisible integrated LED task lighting. (This mirror has a neat optical illusion effect of being see-through given the symmetric sink layout.) By pairing another similarly built cabinet over the toilet, we gained overall usable storage space and have made the space feel more open and more functional.

Products used:

Monday, May 19, 2014

What's Your Drawsharp Number?

I want to start out by saying I'm not a regular drawknife user. this puts me in the best/worst possible position to review the Galbert Drawsharp honing guide.

I'm not going to get all technical with a review of this tool... OK I probably will. I will try to only put forth information that is relevant and might not get somewhere else with a tiny bit of research, 

First off, this is not snake oil, this is the real deal innovation. It's the kind of ridiculously simple idea that makes you slap your head and say "Dang, Why didn't I think of that!" It is brilliant and obvious as so many great ideas are (and yet somehow not previously patented) 

Second, it is impecibly made like all benchcrafted products. While it is my first purchase from Benchcrafted, it probably won't be the last, given the silky movement of the vises at HandWorks.
Both of these points mean it's worth your money if you own a drawknife. period... end of story. Go buy it. I do have some ideas for improvement in my mind but that is really only for Mark II considerations for the product, if anyone besides my mom reads this blog, which by now surely even she is gone. 
I paid full price for this tool (though contrary to C. Schwartz, if any boutique toolmakers are interested in me poorly hawking their wares, let me know...) 
I could have made some personal copy of this product; but this is a case where the inventor and maker of a product have certainly earned my support. (And given my 400yr project backlog I probably I wouldn't get around to making it anytime soon and I wanted to give green woodworking a try sooner)
My experience with Drawknives is simple, Growing up dad had a rusty unsharp drawknife hanging on nails in his garage, I knew it was dull and never even touched it. Recently he aquired 4-5 more (in a similar state) at an auction for pennies. So here we are at square one.

Seemless of course, I could have probably used the refurb kit since I knew I would be starting with a bunch of rusty tools... but that cost as much as the fabled BC Skraper so I sprung for that instead. Justifying a purchase with "saved" funds is always easier. I ended up using coarser PSA sandpaper which worked just fine. I did spring for the refill kit, which is really unnecessary as you will find in time, but no harm, no foul $5.

Unboxing. I usually think unboxing is stupid, but the packaging is great, from the retro "hone-o-matic" naming on the tin (tins....+1) to the brightly colored shipping paper (which I think is anti-corrosive or something) and on to the nicely arranged kit of parts carefully fit into the tin. 
This is the first problem. Not putting it together; I LOVE that it was sent to me in parts, because I also love legos and putting this thing together (<20 min tops) gives me a sense of connection "and I helped!" #shakeandbake. The problem is, it's so nicely packed that you want to save it all, and when assembled, it doesn't fit back in the tin. Currently, I'm disassembling it and returning it to the tin. If the posts folded 1-way out of the way or something. I have mechanism ideas I'm happy to share, if anyone at benchcrafted cares or the tin could just be resized.

Directions: Clear and concise. Though it clearly says to grind/file the back of the knife smooth, I got anxious and went ahead after only "kind of" getting it smooth, but definitely knocked off burrs. After restoring 3 bumpy knives, the plastic plate shows some wear, but is fine for the rest of my lifetime of sharpening.

Using: Some $0.05 cutout rectangles of rougher grit PSA disks applied on the unused sides of the square tube sped up removing rust pitting. After that, a couple quick swipes made them razor sharp. I love the unit-less marking system as you can sharpie them on your knife easily with dissimilar numbers & come back to them easily. I did sharpie in the vernier line on the orange anodized pieces for a bit more contrast.

Here's my quibbles. 
The back & bevel end geometry is identical. I recognize they are shaped to fit the tin, but if one end was scalloped/grooved or something it would help remove a tiny bit of second guessing. It shouldn't add any machining to make one end tactilely different in some way.

The threads should be 90 deg to the posts. This would allow 2 things, smaller diameter knobs as the torque required is not what arrests movement (short bolts not best used in shear.) In one instance the bevel post started slipping, causing some minor rework.
 Second, changing the retention direction allows it to become micro adjustable, which is a welcome addition IMO. Though a jam nut or some "lock" would likely be required.

Probably these ideas for improvement have been considered and shelved in the interest of keeping the end user cost down, which I appaud. Regardless, this simple tool allowed me to return 3 tools from the brink to razor sharp and at the same time introduce me to a useful tool that was really off my radar due in part to sharpening concerns. Now I'll use a drawknife all the time I'm sure. Definately the Galbert Drawsharp is a good buy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Woodworking Safety Day 2014

To go along with the annual safety festivities I wanted to contribute two tips I use in my shop to keep a focus on safety. Both are dead simple and probably obvious but I haven't seen anyone else using them specifically so here they are:

Hang your PPE out to dry

Wearing personal protective equipment is an essential element of shop safety but how many times have you lost track of your glasses or ear protection and then thought I can just make this one cut? By stringing a simple string across something convienient in your shop you can easy store most PPE easily, retrieve it and when you come across a spare pair you can return it to its spot without much effort. Also for me having extra PPE options for shop visitors (and spares in case you leave a pair or 3 in the kitchen) goes a long way toward having PPE at the ready.

A Safer Sled

I am one of the few people with pre-riving knife table saws that keeps their guards on. Frankly despite growing up in a shop without guards a bare 10" saw blade is a scary thing. Using the guard normally puts me on heightened alert when it must be removed because it is a rare event. Also it's much cleaner and I believe a bit quieter too (citation required) The key to keeping the guard on is not having to remove it for normal operations. To allow using a crosscut sled, I created a simple plywood hoop that goes over the blade. Also I made a raised area in front that is a simple raised detent that will keep my thumbs free of the blade area.