Monday, July 16, 2012

Rust Hunting in Georgia 2012.05.12

I have a few weekends of tool finds I need to get caught up with - the oldest is from May 12, 2012. This is an interesting collection of tools found at a yard sale. I noticed a couple of folding rules and asked the guy if he had any other tools - he said he had a box that an old roommate had left in the garage. When he pulled it out and I saw a caliper and a few other machinists tools in there I asked how much for the box. He readily accepted my $30 offer. Now just from rooting around in the box I realized that there weren't many of the better brands, but I figured that the Brown and Sharpe dial caliper was worth at least $30 (with modern versions going for $150+). Most of the tools are Craftsman, Lufkin or other similar (the few Starretts and B&S you can see in the photos). First time I've seen 4 working speed indicators - actually the first time I've seen any at a yard sale - go figure. 3 are Starretts and one unmarked with a brass dial).

In all, there's a bit of rust buy everything turns freely (if it's supposed to). There are a few parts and broken bits. I like the Alvin beam compass, the angle center-finder (wish it was a a Stanley but beggars can't be choosers) and various plumb bobs the best. When I asked about the roommate the seller told me that he (roommate) had inherited these tools from his father and didn't want them. OK by me.

-- John

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part 2

(In case you missed part 1 from earlier today)

OK so now were up to yesterday, Friday (July 6) so I grabbed one of the flooring boards and cut it to length. Of course, for some reason I cut it too short by about an inch (no it wasn't a tape-measuring thing - I actually "fiddled" with my table saw and moved the reference mark - Lesson Number 2, if anyone is counting, is to finish "fiddling" before you start cutting the real material.). Fortunately I had plenty of flooring to mess with. After defining the length and making a quick sketch, I started working on the new tongue for the opposite end. I cut all the bottoms first, then the tops. This is a test fit on the floor of my shop:

I then calculated the ripped piece for the end (came out to 2 1/2" wide) and made the rip cuts for the tongue on that side. It took a bit to get everything to line up to within an acceptable limit (still not looking for perfection here). I took the time at this point to bevel all the edges and work down the extended parts of the dovetails (used a flush trim saw and finished with the hand plane). I also worked out all the faces with a Stanley 4 1/2 smoother and hit the whole thing with some 150 grit sandpaper.

After everything was in place I clamped everything together and removed the sub-frame for a test fit. About a quarter of an inch needed to be trimmed from one end. I then marked and pre-drilled holes for 5 screws that will be used to hold the top to the sub-frame. The sub-frame was reattached and then the top moved to the top of the bench - heavy sucker, especially for one person. I also had to pull the cabinet from the wall to access the screws in the back and no, I didn't remove everything from the drawers before doing so - this took a bit of man-handling but wasn't too bad, just time consuming (Lesson Number 3 - get help from a friend before lifting a 100 lb + piece of awkward counter-top):

Next I drilled and counter-sunk 5 holes on the front, Added shims so the top would be tight to the sub-frame and screwed the top to the bench. There are also some hidden shims under the center column and right front to level the bench (no leveling feet on this unit - doesn't even have holes for them).

I hope to put a couple of coats of shellac or oil finish on the exposed wood tomorrow, but I'm calling this project done. I may still fill the holes on the front where I cut the rabbets for the flooring tongues (right now they're ugly and will probably prompt me to wedge and trim a filler strip).

Quick shot of most of the tools used:

So that's about it - not a bad project if a bit more time consuming that I thought it would be. I also got to practice my hand-cut dovetail technique AND free up some space.
-- John

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part 1

OK so I didn't use all of my vacation from last year and lost a couple of days (I had 7 days roll over, but it reduces to 5 after the last day in January). This year I decided to use those days - thus far I've only taken a couple of days off and it's already halfway through the year. That was enough justification to take off the week of July 4th (so 4 vacation days) which brings me a straight 9 days off! So with all good intention, I started with a list of things to accomplish - of course I didn't get very far. The good news, is that one of those things on the list was to finally build a workbench top for the two metal Craftsman units I started on way back in December of 2010!

To bring you up to speed:
  1. I have a short end-wall on one end of my workshop - the cyclone is in the right corner and there's a door on the left wall close to the corner. There's just enough room for a workbench.
  2. I found two rusty Craftsman metal bench cabinets full of drawers (they were $10 each, found at an estate sale in my neighborhood), which I lightly sanded and repainted in red/black. These made up the base.
  3. I leveled these up along that end-wall and then built a frame using pocket screws, with countersunk bolts to hold a bench top.
  4. At some point I had salvaged some maple flooring that had been drug to the curb - I've been kicking over that stack for over a year and was ready for it to be gone.
  5. I then contemplated using the stack as the top but would have to build a frame to hold everything together - this would mean ripping a tongue alone each end after trimming to length so the flooring would all interlock. The project then became home to all the pieces of my Unisaw build (also still in pieces). It was time to get some of these projects done!
Stack of Salvaged Maple Flooring
That brings us up to this week. I got out my sketchpad and worked out a few measurements. First a note - this is one of those projects where you want to create something utilitarian so it doesn't have to be perfect. That being said, I went a bit overboard. The problem was that I could have made a narrow skirt for the top using a single maple board I salvaged - the original length was about 8 feet so it was long enough for the long parts of the frame, but to make the board work the top would have looked a bit "skimpy" - last year I was given a fat piece of maple and inspiration hit - I'll rip that in two and use it for the ends, so the frame/skirt would have better proportions. So these were the quick measurements I made:

Sketch - the numbers are inside measurements - note I calculated it twice using different methods.
I figured on 1/8" of wiggle room - I actually just barely had enough length to fit the skirt on the bench, based on the lengths of the longest boards - they were 91" long. Oh, and did I mention that I decided to handcut the dovetails? This is where things got a bit overly complicated. I could have just done a mortise and tenon but had recently viewed a video by Paul Sellers (great blog by the way) regarding the hand-cut dovetail and decided to go for it. That was also why I needed so much of the long boards since they needed to be full lenght to allow for the dovetail.

So I got out some trusty tools like by Lie-Nielson dovetail saw.

I bought this saw with the leather holster from someone on Woodnet - it was so cheap it was hard to pass up - it's a bit dirty from the previous user - when I originally purchased it a few years ago I just used it for a few test cuts and put it away. This is the first practical use.

I won't bore you with all the initial steps, other than to say that I ripped the boards on my table saw and then edge-jointed by hand to flatten out the imperfections and burns (maple doesn't smell very good when it burns, by the way) using my trusty Stanley 5 1/4 - one of my favorite planes.

I then adjusted my fence and did a couple of passes on the table saw to cut the rabbets for the tongues on the flooring.

This is the test fit:

That's as far as I got on day one, Tuesday (July 3). Invited a few friends over for the 4th - typical cookout, etc, so I didn't get back into the shop until Thursday (July 5th). I took the above photos before continuing.

After carefully marking the dovetail, I started cutting (yup, no practice or anything). Note to self, before hand-cutting dovetails cut a few scraps to get back into the swing of things. Needless to say my first attempt was pretty bad:

The hardest part about these were the rip cuts - the boards are so long I couldn't put them in a vise, I cut these straddling the boards (no saw bench yet either).

So my first dovetail was pretty yucky - also fairly loose fitting, good thing I started in the back. Fortunately, my second dovetail was 100% better and I continued to tweek things as I moved around the frame. Here's the assembled skirt:

About that time I decided to take a break and change out the blade and cord on my Dewalt 708 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw (this is a Type 4 with the extra amperage). I got this guy for $50 at an estate sale due to the dry-rotted cord. It's got new brushes and a new belt. I already had an unused blade. The cord was $24 at the Dewalt/Delta center up on Jimmy Carter Blvd.

Thinking about placing the Miter Saw on the bench instead of a RAS
To get it to fit I'd need to do a sliding table so there's room enough for the guides to extend to the rear when the saw is retracted from the cut. I'll have to think about this a bit.

Core replacement was super easy - love working on Dewalt tools.
I then test fitted a few boards and called it a day:

These are the shorter boards that won't be used - just for a test fit.

Here's a close-up of those dovetails (the better ones):

Still a little sloppy but it is for the shop.
I thought that was enough to do on one day. More when I get back this evening.

-- John

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rust Hunting in Georgia 2012.04.07

Been a while since I've posted about recent tool finds - here's the first of a few posts describing what I've been finding since the beginning of the year. For the most part it's been rather slim pickings - and as usual I'm so cheap that most of anything that is "good" is already gone. I didn't take a close-up of the file, which is in good shape (triangular with a wedge shape), however I mostly bought it for the cast-iron handle - I'm rather partial to those and have around a half-dozen of them. They're great for smaller files.

I bought the Disston #10 due to its size at about 20 inches of over-all length - you don't often see handsaws small enough to fit into a standard tool box - this one is a bit rusty (but what isn't?) but still straight and reasonably sharp and at $2 too nice to pass up:

The saw-set I didn't really need, but I think I paid a dollar for it. It's a Stanley Handyman "Made in Canada" and one of the smaller sizes. It doesn't appear to have ever been used.

Finally, this last item, a Stanley No. 400 Miter Vise, was provided by my great friend John Stephens who happened upon it (his intent was to put it on eBay as they fetch a decent amount). I've wanted one for some time and this is a beautiful example with original paint. It's probably the best miter vise ever made.

I still have to come up with something to give back to John in trade - I hope I don't have to give up anything too dear. More to come....

-- John