A New Year and a Renewed Blog

2015. What does it have in store? Who knows, but I sure do have a few goals.

Last year was filled with lots of architectural millwork production, a unique wine cellar ceiling, and a few small woodworking projects. 2015 already looks promising. I have a huge walnut desk commission, some spec furniture, plenty of ideas, and more architectural millwork projects.

This year I’m going to find a way to buy a very large jointer, finish my Klausz bench, build an enormous Shaker bench, and get the shop more organized than it has ever been.

In 2015, I’ll definitely be turning sawdust into groceries.

Safety Is No Accident – Clean Your Blades!

One of the most dangerous things a woodworker can do is to use a dull blade. It can be a table saw blade, a miter saw blade, circular saw blade, or basically any of the whirling blades that we as woodworkers regularly use. One thing that you probably do not realize is that most of the time that you think your blade is getting dull, it is not. It’s dirty. Wood resins, glues from plywood, and who knows what else builds up on the sides of the teeth of your saw blades.

My dirty table saw blade. It is a Forrest Woodworker II. This method is safe for cleaning most saw blades.

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Do you see the tremendous build up of gook and muck on the side of those teeth? Do like your mom told you! Brush your teeth! I prefer CMT Blade cleaner. I’ve been using it for years. I buy it by the gallon and fill up these little spray bottles. The plastic brush is from Walmart. I think it is supposed to be a dish brush. You can use your old tooth brush as well, but I like the longer bristles to get into all of the nooks and crannys.

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After I give it a good cleaning on both sides, I rinse it completely with hot water in my shop sink. Metal blade! Water! Yes, rinse it off and dry it with one of your old towels. After that, I immediately blow off all of the remaining water with the air hose. This gets all of the moisture off of the blade, and the hot water makes that happen even quicker. When the blade is completely dry and squeaky clean, I like to use DriCote by Bostik. It really keeps the gunk build up to a minimum.

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Well, there you go. Clean and ready to go.

You’ll Get The Paddle!

My son’s girlfriend was pledging for a business fraternity, and she needed a paddle. Being a normal broke college student, she doesn’t have a lot of money to buy a fancy paddle. She asked if I could make one for her. No problem. I love little projects like this. It’s even made out of makore. I bought a single board last year to make a sample for a project, and I had this lonely piece of makore waiting to be made into something. The shape and lettering were copied from a picture on a website. I never trace anything, or use any kind of pantograph. I just sketch everything out by eye, and go from there. The letters were routed out freehand with a small laminate trimmer using a very cool engraving router bit. It is so stable you can practically steer it with two fingers. It sure makes projects like this a little easier. I finished it off by sanding to 220 grit, and applied my own brew of wipe-on poly thinned out with mineral spirits.

 

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Birdseye Maple in the Discount Bin

Anyone that really knows me can recount one of my stories extreme bargain hunting. I rarely buy anything that isn’t on sale. I spend most Saturdays finding treasures and extreme bargains at garage sales and flea markets.

Yesterday started with a trip to the lumberyard. I routinely peruse any discount or clearance bins at most retail stores. Most lumberyards have a rack of damaged sheet goods or bent and twisted lumber.

Since I am currently in the midst of building my Frank Klausz bench (and anxious to start the Roubo bench), I am always looking for good deals on any stable hardwood. After spotting a few 5/4 and 6/4 boards in the discount bin, I quickly asked about how these items are priced. First of all, let me set the stage. In this current economic free fall (in relation to the building industry), lumberyards have cut back on staff. This establishment has a warehouse that tops out at 120,000 sq. ft. With two guys manning the entire warehouse! Anyway, when I finally get the attention of a very busy warehouse man, he informs me that all of the boards start at $5 each and go up to $7 each. Seriously!

Let us just say that I rifled through the entire rack, and here are the fruits of my labor:

5/4 x 5 1/2″ wide x 9′ long – Hard Maple – $5.00
6/4 x 4 1/2″ wide x 7′ long – Hard Maple – $5.00
4/4 x 8 1/4″ wide x 8′ long – Hickory – $5.00
5/4 x 14″ wide x 7′ long – Red Oak – $5.00
4 boards 15/16 x 14″ wide x 5-7′ long – Red Oak – $5.00 each
and…….

One board 6/4 rough x 10″ wide x 10′ long BIRDSEYE MAPLE!!! – $5.00

The entire take was $48 and change including tax. By my estimates, the one birdseye board alone would cost $125-150!

It was a good day!

The First Step – Making My Own Workbench

As many woodworkers know, the first big test of your woodworking skills is to build your own workbench. Since I have over 1000sq ft of shop space, I am actually going to build three benches in total. The first will be my version of the Frank Klausz workbench. Here is an example.

this picture was borrowed

I will start with this bench. This is very similar to benches that I have used (but never owned). It will help greatly when it comes time to build the other two benches. The second will be a Roubo bench. I know that it is in great fashion to build a Roubo right now, but that’s not influencing my decision. I build quite a few odd things, and I think the leg vise with a dead man will be very useful. The third bench will be a low assembly bench with clamp and tool storage underneath.

After a trip to the lumberyard, I discovered that 8/4 hard maple was the least expensive choice. 8/4 hickory was almost as cheap. I will be using mostly 8/4 maple for the benchtop, andsome hickory for the support structure. A good portion of the legs and braces are reclaimed hickory and red oak. These are sticker pieces I’ve been given from the lumber delivery drivers through the years. They are aged, dry, and free, so I’ll use them. For the rest of the parts, I’ve glued up 8/4 hickory. After some glue up and milling, it’s time to layout the joinery for the base parts.

Cheers to my first workbench!