Woodworking on Holiday

I’ve actually been down at Phillip Island the past 4 days, having a bit of a family holiday (seeing the penguins etc). Did you miss me? 😉

A while back I was interviewed by Tool Crib, and one of the questions was:

If you could only have 5 tools for all your woodworking for one year what would they be?
Dovetail Saw
HNT Gordon smoothing plane
good set of chisels
Colen Clenton Square
Chris Vesper Marking Knife

Hope that would be enough to really get to the roots of woodworking again. (And if I could add one more, the Triton Superjaws so I could clamp the pieces as I work!)

Well I’m not sure if that influenced me or not, but for this trip away I decided that for some of my downtime I was going to do a bit of woodwork, so what I took along for the ride was:

Rockwell JawHorse
Set of Hamlet Chisels
Veritas Dovetail Saw
Veritas Dovetail Markers
Chris Vesper Marking Knife
DMT Diamond Stones (Ex Coarse through to Ex Ex Fine)
Alisam Sharpening Sled
and Tasmanian Oak from Misan Timbers & Craftwood

Didn’t get a lot of time to play, but did get to spend some time one day on a large sharpening session, getting the various chisels up to a decent working condition.  It also gave me a chance to break the DMT Diamond stones in – they apparently work better after some use (and I observed that as well)

The set I have runs from Extra Coarse, Coarse, Fine, Extra Fine and Extra Extra Fine (there is also an Extra Extra Coarse stone on its way, but it has had a slight….uh….delay).  The diamond stones are an impressive way of sharpening.  I have used a number of different methods and they all have advantages and disadvantages, including scary sharp (sandpaper), waterstones and slow speed watercooled grinding wheel.

Photographic Evidence

Photographic Evidence

The DMT Diamond Stones are flat, and unlike waterstones remain flat irrespective of grinding technique.  They cut extremely well – unlike sandpaper they continue cutting as long as you need, without the sandpaper wearing out.  It was quite surprising using the finest 2 stones, particularly the extra extra fine (8000 grit) – to look at it you can hardly pick which side has diamonds and which doesn’t – they are that fine.  So it was quite impressive seeing the river of black that was generated – the finest particles being removed from the surface of the chisel leaving a near mirror finish.  In time, when the stone is broken in properly, it would not be surprising to get a fully mirrored finish off this stone – quite impressive.

The next day I got another window to play, so tried again at a handcut dovetail. The pins went reasonably well – better than last time at least, but the tails were still a bit ordinary  – getting the outline of the pins transferred accurately, so the tails are the right size is still eluding me.  However the resulting joint, as ugly as it is, is still better than the first – the joint went together after some fine-tuning, and as tight as anything.  An improvement, and as much as it is interesting handcutting the dovetails, it is still frustratingly slow compared to router methods (which also look so much neater, at least when I do them and compare to my handcut methods!)

I’ll keep trying, but I’m still finding it hard to justify the time involved!

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