Thursday, January 14, 2010

She Saws, She Saves!

There are days when things go good and there are days when things go bad. Some days things go good but end up bad. Then there are days where things go bad but end up good. Today was one of THOSE days.

I was trying to make a box to store by table saw blades in. Just a simple slotted box so I could stand the blades on edge and store the whole thing in the new drawer I made. I got the parts cut then proceeded to put the slots in the sides on the router table. That all went very well....until I discovered I had put ALL the slots in the wrong direction. I had to cut new sides and makes the slots all over again. Somewhere in that frustration I made several other mistakes with the cuts. I was near ready to give up, but persisted until I got my box made. But I now had a lot more pieces in the scrap bin then I intended and a headache to boot.

Later on after a break and a couple of aspirins, I was looking at my collection of circular saw blades and thought I could make a similar box for them. VOILA! I now could salvage the sides I screwed up earlier. A front, back and a bottom and I had a storage box for the blades. And it fits perfectly in the drawer beside the table saw blade box.

It's a good day when things work out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Firsts Make a Drawer

I made a small cabinet to hold all the accessories for my table saw that always seem to be somewhere in the shop other then near my table saw. It's nothing fancy just a box with a shelf and a drawer. And of course it's on wheels. Today I actually made the drawer for it and got to try a couple of firsts. It was the first time I installed drawer slides and the first time I used a Drawer Lock Bit for building the drawer.

I purchased a Kreg Drawer Slide Mounting tool a little while back. Unfortunately the cashier already rang it in before I realized what the price was - a whopping $32.99! Had I known that I probably would NOT have purchased it. But it was in the bag so I took it home. Now because it was my first time installing drawer slides and the first time I used this jig this may sound like I am giving it a bad rap. I did not buy any brand name drawer slides, just some bargain ones and maybe that is the problem. Perhaps down the road when I do more drawer work I will be extolling the virtues of this jig. But for now I am going to say it's not worth $32.99. It did help somewhat in getting the cabinet part of the slides in place. But there were some frustrating moments as well when the slide kept popping off or twisting on the jig. I'll let you know if there are any improvements with time.

I learned several things about drawer slides from this single experience. It would be better to leave a little slop in the fit of the drawer between the slides, 1/16 to 3/32 would be good. A precise fit makes the drawer tight in the slides and they don't function as anticipated, especially self closing slides. I bought 22" slides and my drawer is closer to 24" deep. That 2 inches is going to be a problem because the drawer is under a shelf and now that last 4 inches of the drawer are almost inaccessible. I may end up changing them yet. The slides are bottom mount and I left slightly less than 1/4" clearance between the bottom of the drawer and the bottom of the cabinet. It should have been slightly more then 1/4" because as the drawer drops into the "self closing" section of the slides the bottom of the drawer drags on the cabinet bottom, so the drawer is no longer "self closing". OK so I know a heck of a lot more about drawer slides then I knew this morning.

My other first was making a drawer with the drawer lock bit. I liked the idea of this bit just from the pictures. A good tight joint that has some mechanical holding power as well. I have seen a lot of people question the set up of this bit and struggling to get it right. Fortunately I had a reasonably easy time of getting it set up thanks to some instructions I got off the Lee Valley website. Those instructions were for a smaller bit then mine, but it worked with a little fine adjustment. I was using 3/4" MDF for the drawer so I didn't feel the need to make small passes, I just did everything in one bite. However, I did notice a tiny chip out of the top corner of one of the carbide inserts on the bit. Good old MDF eats bits for breakfast.

I made several test blocks and once I had a good setup I kept the test blocks for the next time. The routing went smoothly. Even the vertical sides were not a problem, but I did have to use feather boards to help keep the board against the bit. I got a nice tight fit all around.

The biggest snag of the day was the fact that I couldn't use my Oak Park router table for this job. The hole in the base plate was too small for the bit, and the other base plate with the bigger hole, well that was too big of a hole for the bit. That is the one and only thing I dislike about the Oak Park Table. I don't understand why they can't make a plate that takes inserts. I suppose I will just have to make my own someday.

Fortunately I still have that Wolf Craft table I originally got when I started into this whole woodworking thing. I did try to sell it on Kijiji once but got no takers. Lucky for me as it worked perfectly for me today. I put my Master Craft router under it and I think I am going to leave it there just for these kinds of jobs where the Oak Park table won't cut it.

I did rout the dados for the drawer bottom on the Oak Park table. I finally got to use the Router Raizer. Yep I am going to see if I can put on on the Master Craft router as well. That tool is SWEET!

It was a very productive day. All went abnormally well for a change. I like those days!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Work Sharp is a WINNER!

It's been a while since I have been this excited. Tonight I found some time to try out my new Work Sharp WS3000 on the Groz hand planes I am not so impressed with. Thanks to a couple of tips from the Lie-Nielsen website, and the excellent instructions that came with the Work Sharp I now have WORKING hand planes.

The Work Sharp does an incredible job of sharpening plane irons. The edge WILL shave hairs. The bevel and micro bevel are honed to a mirror finish. The best part is it does it in no time flat.

I bought an extra glass disk so I could have 4 grades of sand paper available from 120/400/1000/3000 grit. It takes very little time to flip and change disks to change grits. The sand paper works exceptionally well, and while you can use any PSA backed sand paper, the Norton and Micro Mesh papers are fast and cool running. But be aware if you have a blade that is in rough shape you are going to wear out paper very quickly. I plan to buy some "cheaper" low grit papers to get the tool to "workable" condition first. My previous attempts at sharpening these plane irons left them in bad shape.

Ok here is the reality check. The Work Sharp starter kit cost around $200.00. If you buy enough of the accessories that you can change plates for every grade of paper, and that includes the Edge Vision as well as glass plates, add in the leather honing plate, and the wide blade attachment you are now up closer to $500.00. Plus you will have to stock up on abrasives and the Work Sharp "kits" aren't cheap. It it worth it? There is nothing like a razor sharp plane or chisel. It gives wood working a whole new meaning. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

Thank you Work Sharp!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Shop Squeeze

There doesn't seem to be any more hours in the day this year then there were last year. Once again I find the week frittering away and no time to be in the shop. I have computers stacked 3 high at the moment, and running back and forth to the big city delivering and picking up computers consumes a lot of time.

The Router Raizer arrived on Monday and I got it installed in about 3 hours. The instructions said it should take 1 1/2 hours. There were a couple of places where I missed the fine print. I suggest anyone who wants to install one of these do two things. Set aside a couple of hours AND read the instructions through BEFORE you start the installation. There are a number of time saving tips that you won't get till it's too late unless you do this.

There were a couple of things I didn't like about the installation. There are a number of places you have to apply a thick grease that comes with the kit. And trust me you HAVE to apply it and liberally. They also recommend using STP motor oil on the plunge posts of the router. My issue with this is grease or oil and sawdust DON'T mix. I did the applications (not STP but something equally suitable) but I have a feeling I am going to regret it down the road. I can't impress enough though that you MUST do these applications or things will bind tighter then... well you can fill in the blank.

Once I got it installed and all my boo boos fixed I have to say I LOVE IT! It is absolute infinite control over the bit height. If you install it properly it works very smoothly. If you read the instructions through first, follow them to the T, they make clear sense and make the installation very simple.

Installing this device is making me reconsider giving that box joint bit a try again. I think part of the problem was trying to get it to the proper height. But we'll see. I have started a new "TO DO" list in the shop and it's getting longer every time I go out there. The problem is not enough time out there to do any of it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Another year has come and gone. Time just seems to fly a lot faster as you get older. This year there are no new resolutions, just a lot of rehashed ones from years gone by. They are always the same, lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking. Now of course I have added "do more woodworking". Hopefully I can keep at least one of them.

The shop is pretty much full so there are no new tools to look forward to. I have ordered a "Router Raizer" for my router table. There may be a new item or two to add to the lathe, but beyond that there really is no room for anything else. And I think I have pretty much everything I need. This year I really hope to finally get the closets done. Maybe even a few wall cabinets out in the shop for some added storage. That is something I will never have enough of.

The year starts out with a lot of computer work. I actually took two weeks "off" so now I have a long list of waiting customers. *SIGH* No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get away from it. I am falling behind in the technology really quickly and I have no desire to "catch up". Maybe one day soon I will be too far behind to do the work anymore. One can only hope.

But I wish one and all a happy, safe and prosperous New Year. Now let's make some sawdust!