Friday 27 February 2015

Customer Projects

Here's an interesting Moxon vice using Bristol levers which were bought from Tools for Working Wood. Instead of using the Bench Crafted kit with cast iron handles these have adjustable Bristol levers. They also sell the whole vice complete with the wood, but that takes all the fun out of it!
James prepared everything with hand tools, the only machine being used was the drill press. That's hard work but a great way to get used to your hand plane.
Below is the shared workshop James uses, which has a collection of varied trades and looks to be very sociable as well as a cost effective way of working.

Here's Kens pine tool chest with nice dovetailed corners and integrated wooden handles. The sides have been glued up from a number of pieces which is extra work but should give nice stable boards. Time to do the interior fitting out.

Monday 23 February 2015

New Crosscut Sled.

First off using the table saw without a blade guard and riving knife (splitter) is illegal in commercial workshops in the UK. However as I work alone I can do as I please in the privacy of my own shop.
I will say though, I only use my table saw for crosscuts doing all my ripping on the bandsaw.
So with a high end table saw fitted with a rock solid sliding table why do I use a crosscut sled?
Firstly for a splinter free cut, to the both the left and right of the work as well as the rear.
Secondly it cuts dead square, the aluminium extruded fence on my Felder saw is very fiddly to set and once you tighten the knobs it flexes. The fence on my  planer thicknesser suffers from the same problem.
Thirdly it supports the work both sides of the blade which actually helps with safety as the off cut can be moved completely clear of the blade before removal.
Lastly it allows me to make cuts against a stop either side of the blade
None of this is new to woodworkers in the US.

Above is a shot of the adjustable support for the overhang from the sliding table.
Below you can see the zero clearance either side of the blade.

Although I've used a simple sled for a few years, there were two major improvements I wanted to make. Firstly I made it bigger, 3' to the left of the blade and 2' to the right with a 16' capacity. With anything greater than 3' I could use the telescopic arm and stop on the table saw fence taking it to 6'.
Secondly I was fed up of clamping on bits of wood as stops, then measuring, adjusting the clamp and so on until it was just right. So enter 'Flipstop'.

This is an industrial piece of equipment with a price to match but I've used it for many years on my drill press and it is superb Rock solid, easy to adjust and with no play whatsoever. The fence has elongated screw holes so you can adjust it until the scale reads absolutely spot on, no more tape measure! A pair of stops is very useful as you can retain a setting by flipping the stop arm out of the way. This is great when cutting box sides with continuous grain as you can alternate from one stop to the other as you work down the board. This will get plenty of use preparing the parts for the tool chest course in the summer for New English Workshop.

Here's my drill press setup, the stops are being borrowed on the table saw and are easy to swap over as needed, at £61.20 per stop I didn't feel like buying two more unless absolutely necessary!
So that just leaves me with the 'get out' that all the magazines over use over here, 'guards removed for clarity', what a load of b******s!

Saturday 21 February 2015

Countdown to Handworks, Iowa, USA 15-16th May 2015.

This unique hand tool event is approaching fast, yes less than 3 months to go so get planning!
Above is the eager crowd form the first event in 2013, waiting for the doors to open.
Below (in the middle) is the man responsible for organising the show, Jammel from Bench Crafted.

There'll be plenty of opportunity to try and buy a whole range of quality hand tools with not a router in sight, or earshot! I'll be at the show for the first time demonstrating my dovetail guides and showing my range of hand tools. I'll be meeting many of my customers for the first time and I'm really looking forward to it.

The magnificent Studley tool chest will also be on display in nearby Cedar Rapids, a rare opportunity to come face to face with this amazing piece. Details of this years show and Studley visit are here

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Alternative Moxon Vice.

After making my version of a Scandinavian bench I realised that it would be very easy to make a portable version of the shoulder vice, similar in use to the Moxon vice, where it can be added to a bench for a specific task, ie dovetailing. Rather than clamping it to the bench top it can be simply clamped in your existing vice. The wooden screw was made from one of those freely available kits you can buy and has a 1 1/2" thread with a 6 TPI thread. As it only has a travel of 3" this is easily fast enough.
A few years ago I bought a few lengths of 1 1/2" maple dowel and so no turning was required and the hub is also tapped for the thread and glued in with epoxy resin.

You can make the capacity to suit your needs, mine has a 10" jaw and here it's being used to clamp a 12" board .

The construction is from solid 4" beech with the jaw section being 6" to provide a means of clamping in  a vice.  Below you can see both sides of the jaw were lined in suede leather for a good grip. 
I cut a hole in the leather on the jaw plate to allow for the screw to be adjusted if ever necessary. 
You can also see the slot which keeps the jaw plate from spinning round as it's used.

Below you can see how it sits on the edge of the bench.

I rounded the corners to make it friendly to handle. I will be bringing it to the Tool Chest course for the New English Workshop in the summer, I'm sure it will get plenty of use!

Sunday 15 February 2015

It's a Small World!

I've had a busy weekend as usual with tool orders and as I started packing, it struck me how many different countries there were amongst them. As well as the UK and of course the US (where most of my tools go) there was France, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Latvia (a first), Israel, Spain and Australia!
It's great to see hand tool woodworking is alive and kicking the world over!

Saturday 14 February 2015

Customer Infill Planes.

Kevin from the UK sent through these pictures of a couple of planes he's made. Not your normal infill planes as he's infilled wood into wood! The one above is castello boxwood and ebony with a comfortable looking all round shape.

This one has a spalted beech infill with figured mahogany sides and a steel sole. It has a damascus blade which seems to be bedded at a pretty high angle, at a guess 60 degrees.
That's a very nice chunk of snakewood!

Friday 13 February 2015

Nice Customer Projects.

The first one is a pair of intriguing boxes made by Vipul from West Midlands UK. Looking like an envelope or handbag they have a screw 'button' and a sliding dovetail to remove the lid. Very imaginative!

The dovetail shown below is by George in AZ, USA, this was his first attempt with the 1:6 guide.

Lastly is a very nice dovetailed box in quarter sawn brown oak by Kevin in Gloucestershire UK.

The top is oak veneer and the banding is in snakewood. The lid is held with discreet stop hinges.

The base and lid have been lined carefully with brown leather.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Another Wonderful Piano.

This one was sent to me by a Polish customer, completely different from the last one, but none the less impressive. Below is a video of the piano in action.

Apparently it's a copy of a 500 year old Leonardo Da Vinci design and took 5,000 hours to make!

Saturday 7 February 2015

Piano Maker Extraordinaire!

A good customer sent me these photos of his work which I thought you all may enjoy.
Most of my tools go the amateur woodworkers, but a few go to true professionals, of which Paul is one.

This is a copy of a Streicher very similar to that used by Brahms for the last 24 years of his life.
I'm no musician but the use of that walnut veneer is outstanding!

Above is a video of the piano in action.

And here is the man himself, Paul McNulty, looking deservedly proud of his work.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

The Best Bandsaw Blades You Can Buy!

Over the years I've tried different brands and used different steel, high carbon and high speed, but the best by far are carbide tipped blades. It's not just that the blade lasts a very long time (my last one lasted 9 months of light daily use) but it's the quality of the cut. The teeth are ground in the same fashion as table saws blades and are all in line, unlike other bandsaw blades where each tooth finishes in an outward facing point.

I ordered these (for my Startrite 401) yesterday afternoon and they arrived this morning! They came from Harrison Saw and Tool 01706 225221 and cost £114 inc vat each for a 3850 mm blade. That might seem expensive but I used to buy the Lennox Trimaster blades which are over £200 for the same spec. The teeth are nicely covered and you can keep this on until the blade is fitted but not tightened.

The blade I use is a 2/3 tpi which may seem coarse but because of the in line teeth it cut very smoothly indeed. Pictured below is my blade guide setting which you can see has plenty of clearance either side of the blade. This may be against all advice but if you have really good tension, a sharp blade and you don't try to go too fast, the blade will cut as straight as a die even to the full 16" depth of my saw.

Here's the English burr walnut for one of my box lids cut to a depth of 14" in about 30 seconds. The finish is good enough to go straight to the sander.

Although I only needed a piece 14" wide I was able then choose the best position to make the cut. I used a negative template of the area required which I marked out when I was happy. This is a great technique which can be used with a mirror if you want to find the best book match.

This is the Burr brown oak which came from Yandles.

Here's a close up of the finish you get with these blades

This is the Claro walnut

 ..and finally the burr oak which came from the board I recently aquired. I'm going to have to put the box project aside for a few days while I catch up with the tools order, but I can't wait to see what these look like once finished.