Fitting the Piece to the Place

Jay Oyster's picture

The area in the garage where the bench will go, top of the stairs, to the left of the door, up on the deck.The mudbench is going into the front corner of our garage. As I described on the project page, our garage has a raised deck at the front where the previous owner built a small workbench, and then some storage space where we've got some shelves. The area near the side door into the kitchen was previous just a catch-all space where the kids threw their backpacks and jackets and such. We still want to use it for that, but we want to be able to have some organization, and so I won't be tripping over their shit all the time.

I mocked up the basic space with correct dimension in Sketchup. (See at right)  The model doesn't include the railing along the near edge of the deck, and up the left side of the stairs.  The workbench is just a 2x4 and plywood structure that I've represented by an accurately sized rectangle in the middle of the deck. 

Bench design in the intended location. This was my prototype test to see how it would look in place.

So I took the bench design I worked on over the holidays and placed it in the model to see how it looked spatially, and as a design. To my eye and my wife's eye, it looks good there. She particularly likes the color.

Garage deck with bench in place, deck railing removed for clarity

Stairs for the Backyard Deck

We need to replace our deck. I would have waited to replace the stairs, except the others just plum fell apart. So, I had to build some stairs.

My first set of stairs. Wider than the older set, and less prone to falling down under their own weight, at least for the first 10 years. :-) I'm backfilling this story. I did the work, with Liam's help, back over the Thanksgiving weekend. A fun project in the sun just before we began the coldest snowiest winter in Georgia history. (At least to my memory.)

StartDate: 

Saturday, November 25, 2017 to Monday, November 27, 2017

Finished project?: 

No

Frame for Liam's Abstract Art

Finished framing of Liam's small abstract oil on wood
Our son Liam created a little oil on wood abstract piece. I liked it enough to make a frame for it.

All items on hand, including the shadowbox back, which was painted with a can of charcoal grey I had on hand, along with some nice clear cherry left over from another project. After painting the back, I liked the look of the natural cherry against the painted backdrop, so I left it that way. It really makes the painting pop, I think. I'm very proud of Liam's artistic skill, especially his amazingly mature use of color.

StartDate: 

Thursday, October 12, 2017 to Saturday, October 14, 2017

Finished project?: 

Yes

Crochet Blocking Board

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. 

There are a ton of examples of such blocking boards for sale on Etsy. My sister pointed me to a couple of them, but this was the example she sent. She thought they were a little expensive, especially for the size, and was hoping I'd make her a little bigger one. I, of course, went overboard and initially designed and laid out a 24" square board, but . . . 

  1. It was too big for her to work with
  2. She had flown down from Ohio to Georgia to attend DragonCon, and I was planning to give it to her then, But there was no way she could fit a 2' square board anywhere in her luggage.

So I cut it down to 18" square, which . . THANK GOD!   Because if I had gone ahead with my plan for a 1/2" on center grid of holes at 24" square, I'd still be drilling holes a month later.

As it was, I did go with the half-inch on center hole grid. I gave myself an inch and a half border, but that still resulted in a 31 x 31 grid.   Yes, I drilled 961 holes.   Those Etsy blocking board don't seem that overly expensive to me anymore. 

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.

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