Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

Chair Parts

December 23, 2016

I’m starting to make the parts for four chairs in red oak. The old chairs we have are falling apart. The chairs I’m making are based on a 1940s production chair.

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Prototype in pine without the front legs tapered and without lower stretchers.

The changes from the original include a slightly thicker back leg in order to make the lower leg narrower from the side view. The original chair has round stretchers, and these will be rectangular in the new chairs.

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Thin layers sawed for the bent laminated crest rails.

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Glue-up of a laminated crest rail.

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After the crest rails are removed from the form they are edge-jointed and sawed to width. The slot for the back splat is routed with the crest rail clamped back in the bending form.

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Router jig for making the slots.

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Routing a slot in a crest rail.

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Four crest rails waiting for the rest of the chairs to be built.

Small Stroke Sander and Paper Belts

November 28, 2016

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I built one of these sanders back in 1982 by following Andy Marlow’s plans in Fine Woodworking magazine. When I bought some large 3 phase machines in 1984 and moved my shop to a commercial space, I gave away the little stroke sander.

One of the first things I did in setting up a home shop last year was build a new stroke sander like my old one. This time I used larger angle iron and made the traveling table out of heavier stock.

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After I mounted the motor, pulleys and a v-belt, I clamped a piece of angle iron to the sander frame. Then I used a big gouge to turn the glued-up pine squares into round drums. That was an unpleasant job!

I like its relatively small size, and the way it sands large flat panels up to 4 feet wide. I can sand narrow boards as well. It is open on the left side so that 8 foot long pieces can be sanded by turning them end for end under the machine. One of the advantages of a stroke sander is the way you can spot sand and feather out an area.

I made a 6″x7″ pine block to use as a sanding pad. It is covered with graphite cloth so that it slides easily on the back side of the belt. I also clamped a wood platen under the belt at the top of the machine so that I can hold small pieces right down on the belt.

Marlow recommended 60 grit belts made from heavy weight sandpaper, and I was dubious about whether these would actually work. It turns out that the belts work just fine. The belts last a long time and as they wear down they sand finer. A well worn 60 grit belt will sand something like a 100 grit belt. The paper belts are much cheaper than buying made-up cloth belts.
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The belts are spliced at an angle by cutting through both ends at the same time with a box knife. I use a four foot straight edge along the belt to line up the splice to make sure the belt tracks straight on the drums. The cut ends are brought close together and two small brads are used on each piece to tack them down to a paper padded pine block.

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A 1” strip of fine linen is glued across the joint, and followed by a 3” strip.

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This is covered with 16 sheets of newsprint and another pine block. The whole sandwich is clamped together and left to dry thoroughly. The cured joint is peeled off the brads and the edges are trimmed down with scissors and a block plane.

Sharpening

October 7, 2016

I recently posted a short description of my sharpening method over at Madcap Woodwright, but without a picture. I do have oil stones and water stones, but avoid them if possible because the oil or water, along with the black steel left on the stones gets all over me and the work. The very accomplished  woodworker at Ishitani Woodworking has his water stones on a tray bridging a sink under a faucet and over a drain (starting at 9 min. into the video). This looks like an excellent way to clean the stones after use, and generally keep the mess under control.

I probably will install a utility sink in my basement shop at some point, and follow suit. Until then, here is my sharpening set-up.

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I just use two diamond blocks. A 30 year old coarse interrupted one, and a newer continuous 1200 grit. Both DMT brand. I use cheap window cleaner to wet them. I clamp my 4×24 portable belt sander in the front vise and hollow grind (if needed) on the front wheel with a 60 or 80 grit belt.

Robland X31: Three Legged Horses

October 3, 2016

 

My out-feed table on the Robland X31 works very well. I can rip boards and stack them right on the table. On the other hand it has taken me a while to work out the best way to stack wood at the front of the saw. In the past I usually set up regular four legged sawhorses, and I was forever tripping over the near-side legs!

These funny looking sawhorses work great as in-feed supports for the table saw. They are just shy of the saw table height, and with a bit of weight (an extra board maybe) they don’t tip over. I can put a stack of lumber on the horses and easily walk through them as I pick up and feed the wood into the saw.

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Three Legged Horses: Made from 1/2″ black pipe and fittings, and soldered at the joints.

 

 

Tail vise with drill press vise

August 1, 2016

One of the best ways to plane a long and narrow piece (on a bench with a traditional tail vise) is to hold it in a drill press vise. I’ve glued pieces of 1/4” ply on the jaws of the drill press vice to keep it from marring the wood. This piece of wood is a little over seven feet long, and too long to hold with the regular bench dogs.

The bench needs to be dead flat so that the wood being planed isn’t distorted by something wrong with the bench. Using this method I can take a single shaving the full length with a smoothing plane.

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The Jack plane is a Union and the shorter plane is a Millers Falls – both with corrugated soles.

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Another use for the drill press vise is to hold small pieces to plane odd angles for repairs.

 

Table Saw To Fence Measurements

July 23, 2016

I first put a Biesemeyer fence on a Unisaw in 1980-81. And as much as I liked the fence I never used the ruler on the rail. I know some people get very fussy about adjusting the indicator on the rail. They want to be able to go over to the saw, set the fence, and start cutting.

I always want to measure from the saw blade to the fence, and actually see that the measurement is right. And I want to be sure the distance is just the tiniest bit greater at the back of the blade so the wood won’t bind. I just can’t bring myself to trust an indicator that’s almost two feet from the blade.

For years I used a white Lufkin 6’ wooden-inside-read-folding-ruler to set the saw fence. The “inside read” means that the ruler lays flat on the saw table with the numbers going 1, 2, 3 from the fence. A few years ago my ruler broke and I began using a Stanley measuring tape. It works OK, but the hook at the end of a tape moves in and out a bit to give inside and outside measurements, and this affects accuracy.

Recently, I found a composite material 78” ruler at Home Depot that works really well. The extra length means that the first leg folds out over 7″. I tested it against an accurate steel ruler and it is quite good.

 

 

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Table saw measurement problems: 1. The black and red Husky tape has a metric scale on one edge. It makes it hard to measure at both the front and back of the saw blade. 2. The Lufkin wooden ruler is an “outside read” ruler and reads backwards from the fence. It also only shows 5 inches on the first leg. 3. The steel ruler is accurate but reads backwards from the fence. It is also hard to see the lines and it is so thin it can slip under the fence. 4. The Stanley tape at the bottom works pretty well, but the hook at the end wobbles.

 

 

IMG_0301.jpgMy new Milwaukee ruler: A winner! Sits flat. It’s accurate. Easy to read. Shows 7 inches in the “right” direction.

 

 

 

 

Going Cold Turkey!

July 22, 2016

Banned from shop! Chopsaw

 

After seeing this video by Matthias Wandel

http://woodgears.ca/dust/mitersaw.html

and finally accepting how much dust this thing produces . . . I have taken my 10 yr. old Makita compound sliding miter saw out of the Woodshop and put it in the garage for use outside. It is handy for quick cuts, but I now have other ways to crosscut wood (table saw, band saw, hand saw) without producing so much dust. Even with dust collection this kind of saw throws clouds everywhere.

I miss it though, and I feel a little bad about it out in the garage. OK, I can do this. It is for the best. I can use it for handyman stuff around the house. Done.

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Banned Chopsaw in the garage.

Robland X31 Straight Line Rip Jig!

July 18, 2016

IMG_0292The Robland X31 predates modern sliding table saws where the wagon slides very close to the saw. The newer sliding saws do a great job cutting a straight edge on a crooked or waney edge board.

Here is my new attachment for the sliding table so that I too can straight line rip like the big boys! Well, not quite. The travel on the X31 sliding table is limited to sawing about 52 inches long. But for most everything I do this is plenty long enough.

Robland X31 Update

July 15, 2016

Please see the previous June 3, 2016 post re: my ups and downs with buying and setting up an old euro combination woodworking machine. I think I have finally got the machine working properly, but it has been a struggle. I would caution anybody contemplating obtaining such a machine to proceed carefully and with eyes open.

Motor Failure Mystery Solved!

I had assumed that the previous owner knew what he was doing when he put a starting switch on the front of the machine. It turns out that the simple momentary switch he used was permanently wired to both the running and start windings. I thought that he had disabled the original switch, and positioned the new switch, simply for convenience of operation.  Probably what happened is that the original switch broke and the new switch was put on the front because it was easier than taking out the old switch and mounting a new one back in the control box. Sigh. Long before I got the machine the motors were running continuously on their startup windings, and therefore at higher amps. This type of use eventually caused the two motors to burn up.

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The red button is a stop or “kill” button. There are three of these around the machine that can stop whichever of the three motors is running. The silver box has the conveniently placed, but improperly wired, starting switch. This switch eventually caused two of the motors to burn up. A completely different kind of kill switch!

The Robland X31 is intended to have a manual starter that engages the startup winding to bring the motor to full speed, and then when the starter is released the motor operates on the run winding at lower amps. In contrast, the U.S. standard is to produce motors and starters that automatically switch from startup to run mode.

I purchased a new OEM starter from Salzer Corp in Mesa, Arizona, and after waiting three weeks for the part to arrive from Germany, I was able to install it in about half an hour. All the motors are now running without a load at under 4 amps.  They had been running at between 11 and 13 amps off of the old non-OEM switch due to the resistance of the start winding. Jeff from Gray Motors, Schenectady, says that if the saw motor runs at similar amps to the rebuilt motors there is a good chance it is not damaged. Let’s hope so! At least not for a while, so I can save up to have that motor fixed.

Note (August 3, 2016): I still have an amp clamp on a hot wire to the machine, and it is interesting to see that each of the motors start up at around 32 amps then immediately drop to around 11.5 amps, and when I let the spring loaded start switch return to its original position the motors go down to 4.2 to 4.5 amps. Within about a minute of warm-up the motors then run at 3.5 to 3.9 amps. This is not under working load. The planer will plane a 1/16″ off a 5 inch wide oak board at around 5 amps. I’ll need a helper to see what the other motors do under load (not taking my eyes off while sawing or using the shaper!). I only need to turn the start switch for a second to get each motor up to speed. Working fine now! TBTG!

 

Robland X31?

June 3, 2016

A typical european combination woodworking machine has a sliding table that can be used with the circular saw and the spindle shaper. The machine also has a thickness planer, a jointer, and a mortiser. These machines generally have three separate and identical motors; one for the saw, one for the shaper, and one shared by the jointer/planer/mortiser.

I bought my 1990 green Robland X31 in February of 2016 for $2100. My understanding is that it was purchased new from Laguna Tools, CA in 1990-91, was used for ten years, and then basically not used much until I got it.

In order to get it out of the basement where it was stored I had to take off the sliding table and rail, electric control box, left side cabinet, saw top (with attached saw+motor and shaper+motor), and both jointer tables.

I moved it with hired help to my basement for $500, and re-assembled it. The jointer/planer/mortiser motor burnt up within a couple of months and I managed to remove the motor through the side panel. I called Laguna Tools and they suggested having the motor rebuilt since a new motor from Belgium would cost at least $1200 plus shipping. I had a shop in Schenectady do the work and they charged $650.

Last week the shaper motor died. I used ratchet straps to take up the saw top, (and quickly bought a chain hoist) so I could remove the motor. The motor is now out being repaired. The saw motor is running at 11.5 amps and seems to be fine. [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here] The rebuilt jointer/planer/mortiser motor runs at around 11.7 amps. Even though I had run all the motors before I bought the machine, I didn’t check amps until after the first motor burnt up. I have been using the shaper and after a little while it would run over 13 amps, and it had that acrid-hot-motor-smell.

Observations:
1.  The saw top is now back on the machine and the saw is running fine [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here]. The top is secured with only four cap screws, and getting inside the machine to do maintenance/repair (including the planer motor, drive belts, and chain drive mechanism) is really best done by removing it (and the attached shaper and saw) with a chain hoist.

2. By now I have almost $3500 into the machine (not including moving costs). I’m very glad I got it for the price I did. I like having one dust hose and one power cord. I like that it is compact. The mortising machine is great. Actually, the whole thing is good. I don’t even mind the saw adjustments and the fence.

3. Buying and keeping a vintage (25+ year old) euro combo machine is like taking on a long-term committed relationship. The trouble involved with moving a 1400 lb. machine out, and/or trying to sell it, makes you think twice about getting rid of it.

4. I have both a small 5” jointer and a 10” jointer/planer (Inca brand). Most of the time I use these other machines, and save the Robland jointer/planer for when I have a pile of wood to mill. It is really inconvenient to swing out the jointer tables and then have to wind the planer table all the way up (and back down again) in order to flip over the dust hood. Really.

5. A trick I learned: In order to use the saw to cut a wide board (or use the shaper), without removing the jointer fence, I can swing the infeed table of the jointer out of the way with the fence attached. This works up to 25″ – anything wider and I have to take the jointer fence off.

6. I’m not sure why but I have an amp meter on the machine all the time to check to see how the motors are running. Just a little paranoid I guess. If you have a spare Robland motor for a reasonable price let me know.

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The ratchet straps lifted everything fine, but it was not so smooth going back down! I bought a chain hoist and had a much easier time of it.