Friday, February 25, 2011

Rust Hunting in Georgia - February 2011

Had a chance this past Sunday to go by one of my favorite Antique/Flea places and spied a small hand-saw. It's unmarked and probably from a kid's tool box but the price was right (less than $3). Walking around I spied a Disston D-23 with a carved apple handle - it's a later post-nib but straight and cut at 11 tpi - also with a $3.50 sticker well worth buying - I tried to capture the etch but didn't quite get it. In any case both of these aren't bad to clean up. My total with discount was less than $6 with tax.

That's about it for tool hunting - more Unisaw updates coming!

-- John

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Lumber Yard -

Saturday afternoon I took my neighbor and fellow woodworker John Stephens to visit a newly advertised lumber yard. This was the post I spotted on the Atlanta CraigsList:

Hardwood Lumber Sale
All lumber is Commercial Kiln Dried. All lumber is 4/4 unless noted. Minimum purchase $100, may offer package for all lumber in one stack.

Quarter Sawn Red Oak - 4 to 11 inch width and very clear, most will grade FAS - a portion has already been surfaced to 7/8ths. $2.50BF

Quarter Sawn White Oak - FAS Grade - $3.00BF - Some very large 6 and 8/4 sections perfect for bartop or judges paneling.

Black Walnut - 6 to 7 inch wide - $4.00 - some may be 8/4

Cherry - 1Common and FAS - 4 to 12 inches wide $2.75 to $3.75
Assorted Beech, Persimmon, various species also onsite and available.
Assorted Artisan Slabs and Hardwood Flooring also onsite and available.
All species are available already surfaced for a small charge.
We will be open to the public this saturday between 1 and 5. Our company is Eutree Lumber and can be viewed at

I thought the pricing looked very good and went to the website. As many of you know I'm a web geek, chronic recycler/restorer and something of a design freak - I thought both the web design and messaging were exceptional. Although many of the smaller lumber providers in the area have a similar method - buying trees downed by tree removal services for lumber - this was the first company that really extends the idea of using that as part of their marketing message (the web concept is that they don't "mine" forests, instead only preparing lumber made from hand-picked timber provided by tree removal services, in case the above doesn't make sense and you don't feel like going to the website).

I picked up John around 1:30ish and headed down to Mableton (that's on the west side of the perimeter right off of I285). As we drove, I realized that we would be going right past Hardwoods Inc (Eutree is on the same road heading south). There isn't a sign but an entryway on the Eastern side of the road - if you go you'll see huge trees stacked in the background with drying stacks on the North side and a couple of front-end loaders. I parked on the left next to this:

I'm not sure if you get the scale of that log - it's about 40 inches in diameter. I was greeted by one of the partners, (no longer with the company), who added us to tour he was giving to some other visitors. These are the warehouse shots:

Stacks of dried Red, White and QS Oak

Stacks of dried Cherry, Maple and Walnut

Wide Oak Boards

Slabs and Specialty Lumber
Those spalted maple slabs you see are from a 20+" wide log - it's also cut at 6/4 so you can see the thickness - what a beautiful table you'd get out of that one piece!

Really Beautiful Walnut
 So when you look at the photo above, you'll see some really beautiful walnut that hasn't been steamed to that muddy gray color - one of the main enticements for using a small specialty lumber yard like Eutree is to get your hands on something with some character. This walnut is really exceptional.

Couple of slab tables
 One of the partners is actually a woodworker - the advantage is that he knows what to look for in unusual timber and species.

Milled lumber air-drying, waiting for the kiln (man I need to get lose some weight! My friend John Stevens in on the left.)

More air-drying stacks

Founder (no longer there) shows the width of some QS boards

Slabs on a front-loader

The sawmill

Some of the largest Holly I've ever seen

To give you an idea of scale

Imagine what you can make from this Holly!

Eutree's newly built kiln

Two 6/4 Persimmon boards I purchased

Holly Log and 8/4 Spalted Maple Slab

Two Persimmon boards waiting to be added to my stacks
Before leaving I spied some really beautiful 6/4 persimmon - those went home with me along with a couple of gifts Joel offered me for a club raffle - a 6-8" diameter Holly log and an 6/4 spalted maple slab.

Overall I enjoyed my visit and tour of the yard quite a bit. I met two of the partners (One, no longer with the company, and Sims) and discussed at length what would interest area woodworkers the most in lumber. I stressed that unusual species that are atypical would be more marketable than those species that everyone in the area carries. Also thick cuts - their prices are already really good. They also expressed some interest in perhaps doing a presentation to the GWA class. The business is young, but that also makes them very flexible and I think they're off to a good start. If you're in the area you should definitely give them a try.

-- John

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unisaw - More Work on the Case

Yesterday I completed the rust and paint removal by breaking out my Compact Air Needle Scaler - picked this up a few months ago when it was on sale for about $20 at Harbor Freight ( I also have a full-sized unit but it wouldn't fit inside the cabinet sideways, so I was lucky to have the "mini-me" sized version.

I've never tried using one before - had only heard about people having success when them in rust and paint removal. This pneumatic tool vibrates a series of fat, wire-like nails that force paint and rust off metal. It worked extremely well, especially for the corners and inside edges that I couldn't get to with the wire cup brush. I followed up with a tiny bit of media blasting then worked everything over with a dual-action sander. Finally I shot the whole thing with some primer.

Initial layer of Primer

Finished the primer around 3:00 PM
Today I took out the case and took a more critical look at any bad dents and scratches, which lead me to a some light bondo work. I hit the low spots, waited for it to dry then worked them out. I'm not looking for perfection so there are still many small spots - most will work out with some light sanding. I just knew that when I shoot the gloss gray on it that the larger defects (which are mostly dents) will show under my shop lights - so the effort was to make things better (A.K.A. minimum effort) and not worry about perfection. I didn't bother with the inside.

Light bondo and sanded out
I then re-sprayed the whole case with a second coat of primer and this is the result:

Once it was dry to the touch I brought it inside to completely dry and set-up. I guess it's time to order the bearings and belts.

-- John

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unisaw - More Paint and Some De-Crudding

Atlanta has had some exceptionally beautiful weather the last few days - combine that with my lack of a job - and suddenly stuff gets done that's been waiting in the wings for years. I'm finally making some progress on the Unisaw rebuild - I've got most of the interior guts primed and painted (still plan a second coat of Rustoleum "Machine Gray"). I also got back into the paint removal on the case.

Shiny New Gray Paint
More Gray Paint

Even More Gray Paint
 I also had a chance to work on the front Door latch - this is what it looks like cleaned-up (still need to clean up the knobs):

With the weather so nice I drug out the case - which I had started to media blast sometime last year but didn't get very far. I first tried to use stripper but there's so much old paint that it basically laughed at the stuff - I tried a couple of coats and only got about half way through the paint layers with scraping. Much too slow a process for me. I then started media blasting but with only a single stage compressor it too was excruciatingly slow (the pressure would drop and you end up sitting there waiting for it to build back up, remove another inch or two then repeat. After the first time spending about 2 hours and only getting about 10% removed I gave up).

Finally, while doing some cleanup in my shop, inspiration hit. I came across a braided cup grinder that I got in a mess of parts in a trade. I thought.... "hmm - wonder if this will fit in an angle grinder?" - I found my $10 Harbor Freight Angle Grinder, drug everything outside and stared going to town.

The cup in comparison to the grinder is just massive - probably why that little thing died after about an hour. It got to the point where it started smoking and all the torque was gone as soon as the brush hit the metal. Oh well - for a $10 grinder it worked plenty long enough for me, especially considering that I originally bought it for a single job (removing the top of a toilet flange in cast iron) so it paid for itself the first time I used it. I'll try replacing the brushes before donating to Goodwill. I got out my Makita angle grinder - funny as it's rated the same as the HF version (obvious knock-off) but the difference in torque is simply amazing. I learned that if one of these gets away from you you back away and unplug from the extension cord. That spinning brush wrecked havoc on the leaves and dug a furrow in the ground, slinging dirt everywhere. Happened more than once as my arms started to get tired (on the inside of the cabinet).

Twisted Wire Cup of Wrath

RIP Harbor Freight Grinder
 To give you an idea of what I was working against - I noticed while grinding that the odor it was giving up was the smell of bondo - I'm wondering if at some time in the past someone just coated the whole case in bondo. It would explain the thickness (over 1/16" in most areas) and the red color.

I had to stop after a couple of hours for a phone interview (which went very well - have an in-person interview next week as a result). For about 2 1/2 hours worth of work, I was able to get 99% of the paint, rust and crud off - only needing to work the corners and edges to complete the removal. This method was so much cleaner and faster than media blasting that I would recommend it to anyone - just make sure you have earplugs, especially when you're working on the inside of the cabinet.

-- John

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rust Hunting in Georgia - February CraigsList Find

As with many a tool hoard... er collecte.. uh tool users, I tend to peruse the local CraigsList from time to time. Last Saturday I happened to find an ad for a "Machinists Protractor - $20" which piqued my interest. Looking at it closely I realized that it was a 20" Starrett Combination Square so I sent off an email indicating that I wanted it with a phone number. Here's the original ad:

I received a call later than morning - the seller indicated that I was the first email (pays to get up early!), verified that the $20 included the rule and other parts (always a good idea since the seller could have just been selling the protractor part of the square) and headed out to pick it up. The guy selling indicated that he had purchased it around 15 years ago for $100 but now didn't have any need for it. He also told me that he was surprised at all the calls he had received as he didn't think there was much need for something like this these days. I told him that I wanted it to use for woodworking which also surprised him (he didn't see any reason to have increments in 64ths for something like wood).

Anyway, I've always wanted a 24" length Starrett Combination Square and that's what I got, a number 16 rule with square, protractor and center - this one was wrapped in oil-soaked rags with only a hint of rust in a couple of places - there is some grime that needs to be cleaned up but otherwise it's not bad at all. It's also missing the marking pin but fortunately I have one from another that I an add to make this one complete.

In all a good day of rust hunting - I'm naming this one "Spivey" after a former owner.

-- John