An Introduction

By trade, I'm a mid-level manager in the IT industry, but by inclination, I'm an avid amateur woodworker. This site began as a place for me to share my woodworking projects, my ideas about design, and my commentary on the world of woodworking. I've expanded it recently to talk more about other things, such as politics, religion, pop culture, science, the space industry, and literature. Basically anything that catches my interest.

My thought processes, and my projects, are very Ent-like. They take a long time to develop. I take forever to finish large things. But I occasionally erupt in a furious period of intense actiivity. Like a volcano. I'm quiescent today, but the ground has been warmer than normal lately, and villagers have reported rumblings in the jungle.


 

Crochet Blocking Board

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Completed crochet blocking board
My sister asked me if I could try making a 'Crochet Blocking Board'. This is a tool for flattening and straightening squares of crochet-work. It's comprised of a flat board with a grid or array of holes drilled in it accompanied by a set of dowel pins that are used to stretch the crocheted piece while wet. 

StartDate: 

Saturday, September 9, 2017 to Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Finished project?: 

Yes

Installed Wagon Vice and Turned Benchdogs

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September 3rd, 2017 - Installed the Wagon vice and turned a set of bench dogs

I've done a lot of work in my shop the last two months. I just haven't had the time to post about it. Because of that, I'm going to summarize. I also didn't get pictures of a lot of this.

Completed install of the wagon viceSo I installed the Benchcrafted wagon vice hardware, and shaped the vice block from a piece of hard maple. ( A piece of 12/4 left over from my hall table project way back in 2005 or something.) I got the vice mounted cleanly and shimmed so the screw and vice block turn easily all the way from one end of the slot to the other. That took a couple of days of fiddling to get right.

Bench dogs turned out of hard maple. I had a bit of trouble with the tops.Then I went in and drill dog  holes in my bench top. Two rows of 3/4" diameter holes down the length of the bench. I picked 3/4" because I assumed that was the standard. Every bench dog fixture from Veritas, and every available holdfast on the market is 3/4", so no big whoop picking that size, right? No, of course not. I now find out that The Schwartz has come in and decided to screw up one of the only universally accepted standards in the hand tool woodworking world. (I only found out about his new company, Crucible, and their 1" diameter holdfast a few days. I think I want to write my take on his justification 'rant' in a separate article.

Up next, I squared up a length of that very same 12/4" hard maple, pulled out and dusted off my trusty Harbor Freight lathe, and turned some wooden bench dogs. That was fun. 

Wagon Vice in place, installing 1" bench dog

Pinning the Legs

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Bench legs pinned to the top, pegs still proud of the faceAfter I cut the opening for the wagon vise on the top of the bench, and spent the time to get the leg mortises sized correctly on the bottom of the bench, I debated whether to glue the legs, or pin the legs, or leave them as they are.  In the fitting, I had to pound quite hard to get the legs to seat in the benchtop mortises. I figured it was going to be near-on impossible to pull it apart without rigging up a rope and pulley system of some sort.  Still, I also know that working on this thing will involve lots of pounding, and Murphy being who he is, it will eventually start working loose. So I needed to reinforce the connection without having to pull it apart first. Pins it is.

I bought some 3/8" diameter oak dowels, drilled two holes in the front and back face of the bench where the leg sits in it's mortise, and then glued and drove home the dowels.  The drilling was the tricky part here. I wanted the face of the hole to be clean, so I used a 3/8" forstner bit to start the holes, but I don't have a forstner bit long enough to go in deep enough to drill through to the other side of the leg's tenon. (I wanted to make sure the pin was seated in the benchtop wood on both sides of the leg.)  So after starting the holes, I realized I needed a really long 3/8" drill bit. So off to Lowes I went. I bought several of those really long auger type bits commonly used in constuction. 

Completed pins installed through leg tenons

Fitting the Tail Vice

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Sizing the tenons to fit the mortises in the benchtopIt's been three years ago now that I purchased a Benchcrafted tail vice for this workbench. And we're just about up to the sixth anniversary of this build. Yeesh.

No more on that. In our fourth home, you know, the permanent one, I've gotten my shop in shape enough to get moving.  On this project it meant one of the big technical challenges, installing the tail vice. Well, in all honesty, I was just trying to fit the undercarriage tenons to the top, and I realized that once I got the pieces together, I was unlikely to ever get them apart again . . . so I'd better cut the other parts I need cut on this benchtop while I have the chance.

Tool of choice to cut big slots in a giant butcher block slabI did muscle the top onto the undercarriage once, and then marked up the cheeks that needed to be shaved to fit. I added a number (1), (2), or (3) to indicate the magnitude of material removal required for each cheek. Then I hauled the top back over to my outfeed table to work on the tail vice stuff. That thing is heavy! I don't know how much it is. Wait, I can do this. The Wood Database says dried silver maple weighs an average of 33 lb/ft³. The top is about 96" long by 27" wide by 3 3/4" thick. That's 9720 in³. Divide by 1728 in³ in 1 ft³, so 9720/1728, or 5.625 cubic feet of silver maple in the top. 185 pounds for the top. And I'm hauling it single handed. It's not heavy. It's awkward. (Nah, this shit's heavy.)

Tail vice recess cut into the benchtop, fitted to the Benchcrafted hardware

Review: 'Careless' by Richard Shindell

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"Careless" (2016) by Richard ShindellReview of “Careless” by Richard Shindell. Originally reviewed on September 26th, 2016.

I'm continually appalled that Richard Shindell doesn't have a bigger following than he does, even though he resides in a genre that is perhaps not at the forefront of popularity these days, the folk singer/songwriter. Even given his street address on the margins of the musical industry, his music should be a Mecca to which true lovers of the well-crafted and poignant folk song should trek. I've been fans of other less popular artists before, and often they disappoint as their lack of monetary success wears on them artistically. Richard Shindell has had ups and downs in his output, but Careless is among the best music he has ever created. He continues to create amazing music. I bought the album after hearing a Folkways recording of one of its tracks, The Deer on the Parkway. It took a couple of listenings, but it's now firmly among my top 2 or 3 of his albums.

Workbench Undercarriage Glued and Pinned

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Webcam shot of the glued and pinned undercarriage of the bench, perched atop the benchtopI'm continuing to make progress on the Roubo workbench. After carving the message on the front board, I then glued it to the front edge of the benchtop. Then I set the top aside so I can drill holes for pegs on the bench legs and aprons. Just last night I finished pegging and glueing the legs together. Then I heft the top back up on my outfeed table, upside down. Then I got the undercarriage on top of it, so I can lay out the leg tenon locations on the bottom of the benchtop. I've got it roughly positioned now. I didn't take the time last night to grab a photo, so I'll just show how it looks right now on the webcam.

After I get the position of the mortises figured out, I'm also going to work on installing the Benchcrafted wagon vise. Progress is being made. I'm hoping to have this thing finished this month.

Carving the Credo

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Finished up tails on the endcapThe last update was getting too long, so I'll finish the rest of that here. After I finished fitting the dovetails of the front piece of the front to the endcap, I then worked on carving the credo I had long planned to grace the front edge of my bench. The main reason I left the front board off of the benchtop lamination was so that I'd have a separate piece to carve. It's also a lot easier to carve on a  piece resting on a benchtop than sitting on the floor attached to a 250 pound hard maple benchtop.

The entire message pattern attached to the front board. A pair of long lines along the length of the board allow me to slide the words back and forth slightly, maintaining a  continuous baseline.  The word kerning here can have a strong impact to a view on whether it's easy to read or not.Here, you can see how I've used a spray adhesive to attach the paper pattern to the front board. I'm actually showing some confidence here by making this mixed case. There's a reason why much of the gross carving of the ancient Roman monuments used all capital letters. Capital Roman letters have fewer curves, and curves are alway harder to cut so that they look consistenct. (Think of the letter E and T.) Still, I've carved several signs in the last couple of years, so I decided I liked the more classically elegant look of lower case serif lettering .  .  . and I had just enough confidence to try.

The letters are about an inch and a half tall. One thing that's important about laying out your message is to size your lettering to fit your carving gouges and chisels. At this size, I could use my 6 and 10mm wide chisels, but 12 and 20 were way too wide. This somewhat limited my choices in gouges since I mostly have only one width in each curve size. In carving chisels, a number 1 is a flat chisel. Each higher number indicates a tigher curve, all the way up to a number 12 which creates a very tight curve of diameter of approximately a quarter inch. This curve numbering is known as "sweep".  Actually, No. 11 and No. 12 are usually not circular, but rather more U shapped, with the sharpest curve at the bottom of the arc. 

Carving my credo on the front board of the benchtop, to be attached next

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