Woodworking Archive

Shop notes

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Note to self: when using the lathe, make sure the tool rest height is correct before setting to work.

It would really be a pity to waste two hours wondering what the heck you're doing wrong.

Turn, turn, turn

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I used the lathe today.

I didn't do much, but it felt great to do it.

A step forward

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Since the beginning of the Recent Neurological Unpleasantness*, one of the (several) activities that I've really missed being able to do is woodworking. I have a garage full of power tools — table saw, lathe, drill press, jointer, and so on — and I simply haven't been able to use them.

Until today.

After I got up today, I slammed a couple cups of coffee, fed the cats, and headed out to the garage. Backed the truck into the driveway, and got to work. The task I assigned myself today: assemble the mobile base I bought for my lathe.

Not a big deal, you might think. All I had to do was cut a two-by-four into four pieces (two crosscuts and two rip cuts), drill 20 holes, and turn a wrench. Not a big deal at all... unless you can't stand up and walk around easily.

It took me all afternoon, and into the evening. But I got it done.

By the time I put away all the tools and parked the truck, I was exhausted, and completely sweat-soaked; I hadn't actually had anything to eat all day. Man, I love being "in the groove."

Next week, I'll spend my days off rearranging the tools in the garage. Right now, getting to the lathe is a bit of a challenge and moving the table saw away from the wall to the spot where it is best used is extremely awkward, so I'll swap the places where they are stored when not in use, which will make them a lot easier to use.

I never used to have to worry about a little extra effort. Now, and for as far out as I can see, extra effort is a major hurdle to be avoided.

But I am going to be doing woodworking again. I can hear the lathe calling my name.

* I think that's how I'm going to refer to the whole hydrocephalus kerfuffle, henceforth.

In order to keep my Real Man bona fides current — disability being no excuse — yesterday I crutched my way out to the garage and used a power tool (Porter Cable circular saw) to destroy something.

[Insert grunting noises here.]

Now disposed of: the crate in which my lathe was delivered, and which has been needlessly hanging about in the garage, in a manner not unlike Larry Craig in an airport men's room stall, but entirely without the wide stance.

Species Reclaimed


Woodworkers of the future — rejoice!

The American chestnut, prized for its timber and its crop of glossy dark nuts, once dominated Eastern forests from Maine to Georgia. The graceful trees were virtually wiped out by blight starting at the turn of the 20th century.

That loss, Case said, "was the greatest environmental disaster in the Western Hemisphere since the Ice Age."

Now, after years of breeding, cloning and crossbreeding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is ready to reintroduce disease-resistant chestnuts to Eastern forests next year.

Chestnut is one of the all-time great hardwoods; it is, along with woods like cherry and walnut, one of the classic American hardwoods. Ever since the blight finished wiping out the native species, however, woodworkers who have wanted to use it have had to rely on reclaimed stock or imported varieties. That isn't likely to change much for the next 20 years or so, but nevertheless, this is a very good development, a long time coming.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire... I've always wanted to try a hot chestnut. Now, someday I'll be able to.

[Link via Instapundit.]

Another One Down

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Now that this is out of the way...


I can get to work on the Spirit of America ClueBatsTM that are due to various people.

[My garage workshop isn't large enough for me to do serious woodworking while I have a project in the painting/staining/finishing stage. Sorry for the delay.]

If you were one of the bidders here during the SoA fundraiser and haven't seen the e-mail I sent out after bids were closed, please allow me to reiterate: send me a copy of your donation receipt and I'll send you a mini-ClueBatTM (I think it'll end up between 25% and 50% scale) as a memento and a Thank You for your donation.

Self Surgery


Norm Abrams often uses the term "nice sharp chisel." He'll say things like "clean up the mortise with a nice sharp chisel" or "square the inside corner with a nice sharp chisel."

I keep my own chisels razor sharp -- not that I would try to shave with a chisel, any more than I would try to use a razor blade to clean out a mortise, but you get the point.

I had to pare down a tenon (i.e., make it a tiny fraction of an inch narrower), so naturally instead of setting up a power tool I reached for a nice sharp chisel.

Along the way I collected a common little souvenir of the woodworking hobby:


It's a good thing this wasn't done with a bad dull chisel -- it would have been much worse. As it is, I barely even felt it. The cut was so clean it took two minutes for it to start bleeding. Now, that's sharp.

And lest I forget to mention it: the tenon was successfully pared, and fits perfectly. Look for a photo or two of the project in the days ahead.

[Update: actually, I think Norm says "nice" rather than "good sharp chisel." Same thing, but I've corrected the post.]

Yes, I've Got Wood

I've been doing rather a lot of woodworking lately. The time of year is right (not too cold or too hot out in the garage) and the other ways I might fritter away my copious free time seem less satisfying than ever (except for going to the range, of course.)

I figure I might even post pictures of my pitiful projects from time to time.

Today's woodworking tip:

When cutting a tenon on the end of an asymetrical part, be sure to cut it on the correct end.
Just doing my bit to make the world a better place. Dang. Good thing I have spare lumber on hand.

Just call me "Mr. Helper"


Here's a handy hint for all my fellow woodworkers out there:

When doing a glue-up with biscuits, make sure the biscuits you use and the slots you cut are the same size before you apply the glue.
Just doing my bit to help out, is all.


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