Sunday, November 13, 2016

Making Shop Cabinets

I came across a website that had information on building shop cabinets by Tom Clark.  He had lots of cabinets that he has made over the years and they looked great.  He was selling a book on how he did it and I really liked his style so I purchased it.
Practical Shop Cabinets
Since I got the book, I have built two bench cabinets.  One is 10 drawers and the other is 8.  The first one took me about 30 hours over 14 days at about $80.   It has a 3/4" plywood top.  The second one I just finished in about 24 hours over 8 days for about the same cost.  I had built a Ron Paulk style workbench which I cut down and used for the top on this cabinet.  I must say these cabinets are rock solid and should last a long time.  It is nice to have lots of space for organized storage where things have a home.  I also fixed up an old small 2 drawer dresser and replaced it with 4 brand new drawers with drawer slides.  It used to have drawers that just slid in on wood rails.  I painted it black and left the drawer fronts natural.  I just used polyurethane satin for the finish on the red oak plywood.  The 8 drawer cabinet was finished with boiled linseed oil, then 1 coat of satin poly and it looks a bit better than the straight poly.
I made the wooden drawer handles out of bits of cherry and maple.  Some were cut by my cnc machine but most were cut out on the bandsaw.  The handle design is from Matthias Wandel and the ones on the 4 drawer unit are designed by John Heisz.  These handles are much more solid than what you can buy.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Martin Guitars Factory Tour

I went to Martin Guitars in Nazareth, PA on 9/30/2016 for a factory tour.  Martin offers daily plant tours so I was excited to get a chance to see how their guitars are made.  CF Martin started in 1833. Once you enter the lobby of Martin Guitars there are lots of things to see while you wait for the tour to start.  There is a museum on the left which beautifully showcases the history of the company back to its start in 1833.  There are guitars there that are 180+ years old! You could spend a long time in this museum as it is as high quality as any museum you will visit. There is also a gift shop and a guitar playing area where you can actually play several Martin’s hanging on the wall.
The tour starts with a tour guide handing out wireless earphones so you get to hear every word during the tour.  This is a great idea!  They are set up for daily tours and have it down to a science.  There are display boards everywhere in the factory showing what the workcell does and what the equipment does.  There are many cnc machines and robotic equipment but there still is lots of work that is hand done by craftspeople. 
There are about 600 employees in this 200,000 square foot facility.  It is a marvel that this company has survived all these years.  It is a privately owned company and the Martin family is now in its 6th generation.  For anyone who is a woodworker or guitar player or both, this factory tour is really a special treat.  Even if you are not either, it is still one of the best plant tours you will see.  It is really interesting how the factory and walking tour are set up to showcase the employees and product.  There was careful thought to not make just a factory to build guitars but to market the high quality of the Martin product right in the factory itself.  When you are walking through and seeing the many different styles of guitars in process, you definitely want one!  It is really clever how this was thought out and something you will not see in other factories.  After the tour you receive a laser engraved sound hole cut out.
It is a bit of a ride from Philadelphia, PA but well worth it.
More pictures from the tour are here = Martin Guitar photos.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chessboard Made With Only Hand Tools

I just finished this chessboard and I used only hand tools to make it (about 95% hand tools).  I did use a circular saw to rip cut 72" piece off a board of cherry for the edging.  The squares are 1/4" thick and thickness planed by hand using a #4 plane.  I was amazed at the precision you can get with a shooting board, hand planes, and a sharp tenon rip saw.  This was a great learning process for me and I really like how it turned out.  The finish is 3 coats of shellac, 2 coats boiled linseed oil/lemon oil/helmsman varnish/mineral spirits mix, then finished off with furniture wax.  I used cherry and curly maple for the squares, cherry for the edge pieces and ash for the dovetail splines at each corner
For more information on how this project is made, see woodworking masterclasses with Paul Sellers.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hand Cut Dovetails

I have been making hand cut dovetail boxes over the past 2 months.  My goal is to practice making 100 dovetail corners, so that would amount to 25 boxes.  I have 7 various boxes made so far, but I am gaining more confidence with my dovetail saw, chisel and hand plane skills.  No routers, jigs or templates used.  It is amazing what you can do with some sharp hand tools.  In many instances it is faster and much safer than machines.  No loud noise, kickbacks or dust collection.  I can do at any time also and not bother my neighbors.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hand Tool Woodworking Bench

Here is my new hand tool woodworking bench that I built earlier this year using plans from Working Wood 1&2: The Artisan Course with Paul Sellers book.  It is made from construction grade wood from Lowes.  The legs are all hand cut mortise and tenon joinery.  It is a great bench and very solid.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Glued Lapstrake Canoe Completed

I completed the Tom Hill designed canoe for my friend at work.  He commissioned me to built it for him in August 2015, so it took about 10 months.  It usually takes about 1 year to build a boat.  Having the new insulated back room in the garage helped me to maintain progress even during the wintertime.  I will deliver it to him the first week of June 2016.
For boat construction photos, click here.
Boat Plans = Charlotte, from Thomas J. Hill Boat Designs
Plywood = 4mm Sapele mahogany from Harbor Sales
Epoxy for all joints, fillets and sealing = 105 resin and 205 hardener by West System
Old Town diamond head brass bolts and 3/8" brass stem bands = Northwoods Canoe Co.
Top Coat Paint = TotalBoat oil based from Jamestown Distributors.
Burl wood for breasthooks = Pocono mountain grown supplied by customer Dave G.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hand Saw Modifications

Being a big fan of Paul Sellers, I have starting putting together a set of woodworking hand tools that he recommends. These tools, when cared for, can be passed down for many generations.  I had a hard time finding old tenon saws with the steel or brass backs on them. They can be very expensive when you do come across them.  I decided instead to purchase a steel backsaw from Home Depot and a Spear and Jackson saw from Amazon UK.  They came with ugly handles on them with nickel plated fasteners so I decided to re-make those parts to match saws of old.  These saws from 100+ years ago had carved handles that fit your hand and brass saw nuts.  The top saw handle was made from Maple and the bottom saw handle was made from walnut.  The brass backed saw is a Spear and Jackson.  I bought brass rod and brass threaded rod thinking I could make the fasteners myself but I could not get a concentric hole drilled into the rod.  You really need a metal lathe for that.  I found someone from the Home Machinist forum that would make the saw nuts for me.  He just charged shipping so this was very generous of him!  He did a great job too.  Thanks John.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Garage Shop

I  decided to build an enclosed insulated shop in the back of our garage so I can work in the shop year round.  It was a bigger project than I thought but the investment will be worth it during temperature extremes.  It is no fun to work when you can see your breath.  100 degree temperatures are no fun either.  With the insulation, I hope to only have to use an oil filled radiant heater to get it to 50 degrees or so in there for comfort.  I still have to put a door on it.  For now, I may just hang a quilt for the doorway.  It does not have to be secure.  I can build a door later.  Too many other things to build now.

Tom Hill Canoe Project Update

Here is an update of the canoe project I am building for a friend at work.  I hope to get it ready for paint when it warms up in a few months.  The truss pattern method worked great for getting accurate lapstrake planks for the sides.  It came out perfect for me.

Paul Sellers Woodworking

Sometimes things just all of a sudden come up in life that are truly amazing.  They are like wonderful gifts that can change your perspective in an instant.  One such thing happened to me a few weeks back when I discovered a master woodworker, Paul Sellers on YouTube.  After watching about 30 hours so far of his videos and Woodworking Masterclass project instructions, he has by far become my favorite woodworker.  No other woodworker I have experienced comes close.  He truly loves working in wood and does so with mainly hand tools.  He is not just using hand tools for the novelty of it, but shows that they are superior to machines in a variety of ways.  He says, “I keep old tools to work with because they work; not because they look nice”.  He is one of the few remaining woodworking artisans that apprenticed under the 70-80 year old master craftsman that starting woodworking pre-1900’s.  These masters were working with tools older than they were and in some cases, tools they crafted themselves.  He dispels many myths about sharpening which is a subject that has grown so inconsistent in the past 20 years that there is a mass confusion which keeps hobby woodworkers constantly searching and buying the next great sharpening machine, stone or method.  None of the master craftsman had flat sharpening stones for instance.  He also focuses on hand planning all surfaces during project construction where sanding then becomes a way to “roughen” up the surface prior to apply finish.  Think of that!  This is completely opposite to the way most hobbyists, including me, work.  Normally, sanding is a process that takes more time than building and no woodworker likes doing it.  With Paul’s way of working, you basically only need a quarter sheet of 180 and 240 grit sandpaper to rough up the glass smooth surface so the finish has something to adhere to.  On top of all this, his gentle way of teaching while clearly explaining each step is indeed a rare combination of skills. 
Also, the hand tools you buy will last a lifetime when properly cared for and sharpened.  Contrast this to the disposable cheap products we have been trained to consume so quickly in the name of advanced technology.  There are not many new things today you can purchase or build yourself that can still be used by your great grandchildren.
I am sorry that I did not find out about Paul Sellers sooner, but I am just thankful I found out about him now so I can learn woodworking the right way and pass that knowledge to others who are interested in this hobby or vocation.  Paul has a blog that is a wonderful collections of his writings.  This collection of information is so thorough that any question I’ve had, I can just search his blog and find an article that addresses that question. 
I was on the “conveyor” with many other woodworkers that get taken in by salesman, machines and contraptions that are expensive and leave you far away from actually “working” the wood.  They also leave you with a bulk sandpaper supply that requires you to build a special rack just to hold all the grits from 60 to 400.  Woodworking is now fun again.  I will be posting woodworking projects this year that will be built by hand tools and some newly practiced skills.  These will be pieces that will still be around for the next 150 years or more which is exciting!