Shed Life in a Shedless World

Have to admit, the last few of months have proven quite difficult, with the previous shed’s doors being closed, and new ones yet to be built, let alone open.  Approaching 3 months of a shedless life, and there are at least 2 more to go at this stage, with plans yet to be finalised for a replacement.  You know it is impacting, when I was even dreaming last night about using a shoulder plane to make a dado in purpleheart (it was a dream, didn’t have to make sense!)

I am hoping to have a definite way forward locked in very shortly (need it for my own sanity!), and then I will have a much better idea of timelines.  It is pretty much guaranteed at this point, that Stu’s Shed will still be shedless on the 6th anniversary of the website, which is rapidly approaching, which is a bummer.

In the meantime, I will have to come up with a way to continue to function – I have my Nova DVR lathe close enough to the side of the pile to at least be able to access it, so some sawdust creation might help blow the cobwebs away.  I’m also looking into some ideas for adding an extra dimension to podcasts/videos.  Some exploratory work to do, including sourcing some new technology.  One word…… GoPro.

 

Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane

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The Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane is a stunning, tiny plane, that is still very functional (almost as an added bonus!) It is made from stainless steel, using the investment-cast process. It has a fixed mouth, with a machined sole and ground sides. A low 15° bed angle combined with the 25° blade bevel provides a 40° cutting angle.

The investment-cast process is a lost-wax casting process, where the original item is carved out of wax, from which a cast is made (and the wax is then melted out and “lost”). Into this mould, a ceramic copy is made. This is used to produce the future moulds, and is called the “investment”

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Does this make it a “palm plane”?

The plane is well designed, and can be used in catching and squaring up the small corners at the bottom of a dado.

Compared to a normal plane, it is significantly tiny!

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Available from Carbatec. You’ll have to ask for them at the counter – they are unlikely to be dumpred on the shelves – too small and desirable. Cost is around $35- not sure exactly.

And if you are thinking of joining the woodworking Mob, it makes for an essential fashion accessory 😉

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Upgraded Bandsaw Circle Cutter Jig

Way way back in the history of this blog (around Episode 6 if anyone cares) I did a video on a basic circle cutting jig for the bandsaw.  That jig was decommissioned and abandoned after a few years of service as part of the cleanup during the shed expansion, but it has taken from then until now for me to do something about replacing it.  I’ve had plans in my head for a new version for a long time, and finally I have realised those into a new jig (which is still a bit of a work-in-progress).

So let’s jump into what I have been working on.

I started by raiding the jig drawer, and found some useful components that looked like they would work with my mental image of the new jig.  My main thing I wanted to be able to do with the new one, was adjust the diameter of the circle without having to use the agricultural method of hammering in a nail and clipping off it’s head to form a point to mount the work on.  So a rail was needed.

The other ‘problem’ I wanted to solve was angled circle cuts, which have a different bandsaw blade path, and over time would end up with the jig rather chewed up.  Will still be working on this as the jig develops.

Jig Components

Jig Components

What we have here is some Incra Rule Track, the Incra Mitre Slot runner (not sure it’s real name), a mitre slot lock nut and some scale rule.

I wanted to use the mitre slot lock as the pivot point – setting its position along the track and it then locks down with a hex key. I needed to put a pivot point into it, and what I came up with was a threaded bolt through the track lock, which is then sharpened to a point to mount the workpiece.  As much as my shed is a woodworking shop, there is still a number of invaluable metal-working tools in there and one that is invaluable for jig building is a thread cutting set.

Metal Thread Cutting

Metal Thread Cutting

It doesn’t have a large range, but there is enough in there for the sorts of small-scale jigs etc that I need to make.  Jigs are, after all, one of the most useful things in a workshop, so making a jig is an artform in itself. (Not that I’m particularly good at it, but I do recognise their value!)

Measuring Thread Size

Measuring Thread Size

First step was choosing a suitable bolt that I wanted to use, and then determining what thread size it was to cut the matching threaded hole in the Mitre Lock. There is a tool in the kit to determine the thread on a bolt, and in this case I was able to work out that it was M5 0.8 pitch.

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Drilling the hole to be tapped

Next, using the pro drill press table’s advantages with the clamps etc, I was able to hold down (with the aid of some Vice-Grips) the small Mitre Lock to drill the hole to be tapped.  I used a 4mm bit for this, as it will be tapped out to 5mm by the thread cutter.

Cutting the thread

Cutting the thread

Using the correct thread cutters, I then tapped the hole, first with the least aggressive 5mm 0.8 cutter, and progressing through to the final cutter which produces the sharp crisp thread required.  Using one is pretty easy, and it is just a matter of taking it slow, backing the tool off every 1/4 turn to break off the swarf that is forming, then continuing deeper and deeper.  This is repeated for the next two thread taps until the thread is fully formed.

Formed Thread

Formed Thread

Here is the final hole produced, and all tapped ready for use.  You can also see in this photo the grub screw (hex drive) that is used to lock the Mitre Lock into the track

Inserting the Bolt

Inserting the Bolt

The bolt is then threaded through, and with the aid of the Vice-Grips again, the head of the bolt was sanded right down on the linisher. Then, with a combination of metal files, the Triton Rotary Tool and the linisher, the bolt was shortened, and sharpened to a point.

Ripping the Jig

Ripping the Jig

The body of the jig has been made out of this heavy ply I have held onto for years, waiting for a good use to put it to.  It happens to be the ply that is used around electrical cabinets etc, and is quite weather (and electrically) resistant.  It has a shiny, smooth side, perfect for jigs.  This is probably one of the first photos on here of me actually using my tablesaw, so have included it for that reason (I normally don’t remember to take a photo while ripping a board!)

Routing the Dado for the Track

Routing the Dado for the Track

I wanted a stopped dado for the track (in other words a slot that doesn’t extend the entire width of the board, so as much as I was hoping to use the dado blades on the tablesaw for a legitimate job, I still needed the router table for the task.  The Incra fence again came into its own, allowing me to accurately position the fence so the track was an exact fit. I did use the micro positioner to do a couple of final fitting runs, taking off about 3/1000″ each pass to get the fit perfect.

The end of the stopped dado has rounded corners as a legacy of being cut with a router bit, so I needed to either square those corners up, or round the track over to match.  I have a small tool I bought from Carb-i-tool years ago, perfect (and designed) for this task.

Corner Squaring Chisel

Corner Squaring Chisel

A few quick raps with my home-made redgum mallet, and the corner is cut square.  It is a cool design, and the tool has a rebate on two sides so it fits perfectly in the corner over the top of the round section that needs removing.

After testing with the track, I decided I wanted to set it a bit deeper, and rather than making more passes on the router table, I had the perfect tool for that job too…..

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

HNT Gordon Shoulder Plane

…..my HNT Gordon ebony shoulder plane.  Sometimes a hand tool is the perfect tool (and yes, I am sure there are many other there that would argue that a hand tool is ALWAYS the perfect tool, but I don’t mind murdering a few electrons on the way).  It can be set so fine to take of just a fine shaving, delicately thin.  You can’t beat the feeling of working with a fine tool.

Track in Position

Track in Position

The track and Mitre Stop is now in position, and the track is significantly longer than the jig so I can cut rather large circles if required.  The size of the base board was chosen to roughly correspond to the width of the bandsaw table (including the area between the blade and the riser (the throat)), so the workpiece has plenty of support.

Marking up slider position

Marking up slider position

Another tool getting actually used in a real job was the Woodpecker T Square, used here to find the track that the bandsaw blade will follow, and therefore where the slider needs to be located.  I’ve used the Incra slider here because it can be fine-tuned to fit in the mitre slot of the bandsaw table for a good, sliding fit which can be adjusted and finetuned while the jig is fitted to the table with a simple hex key.   It also means I can reposition the slider easily, if I want to use this same jig on another bandsaw.  In my case this is important, as I am designing this primarily for my Jet 14″, but will also want the jig for cutting circles on the Triton 12″ bandsaw when I run my toy-making courses at Holmesglen.

The first cut

The first cut

Finally, we are ready for the very first cut, the one that the blade will follow for horizontal circle cuts.  This is done with the slider in position, but no table stop is yet fitted, as I have not determined its position.

circle-cutter-15I’ve then fitted a stop to the underside, which catches the edge of the table so the jig can’t pass through too far.  In this case I’ve used a bit of Incra rail which is a bit of a waste, but it was the perfect size, so sacrificed to “the cause”

All ready

All ready

The track is in position, the stop is in place, the initial cut is made, the jig is ready to go.

Initial cut

Initial cut

A board is located onto the pin set to the desired radius, then (with the bandsaw running obviously), the jig is slid forward until the stop on the underside connects with the table.

Cutting the Circle

Cutting the Circle

The board is then rotated through the blade as it pivots on the pin until the circle is complete, and as seen here, breaks free of the outside stock.

Backing out of the cut

Backing out of the cut

You then back the blade through the initial slot cut until the entire jig is free of the blade, and remove the cut circle.

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle Cutting on the Bandsaw

Circle cutting on the bandsaw – a simple task that takes a lot less time than it took to write this article!

Handplanes, a quick look

I’ve been avoiding this topic for quite a while, as much because there are so many knowledgeable people about there who live and breath these traditional tools, that I know I won’t be able to do them justice. But putting that aside, there is a surprisingly large learning curve to traditional tools and what they are capable of.

Woodworking has been around a lot longer than our planers and thicknessers, tablesaws, routers, drop saws etc etc. How wood was shaped and worked was often with handtools, and a group that has survived the ages are handplanes. Of the vast majority of traditional handtools that existed, at least you can still walk into a hardware store and buy one. How good they are is another matter entirely, but there are still some quality handtools around.

I said recently that I’m a bit of a strange fish where it comes to some things, and this is no exception. I came across a toolmaker at the Melbourne Wood Show a few years ago, and was really inspired by what could be achieved with such a basic form. He was (and is) Terry Gordon, and I really enjoy owning and using some of his planes. (HNT Gordon Planes).

So onto planes themselves. I mainly only have HNT Gordon planes to show you at this stage to highlight my points. In a roundabout way, this is another aspect of the start of the sharpening exposé. After all, when you are talking about sharpening, there has to be something that needs to be sharp!

It is said that there are the big 4 planes that all complement each other, and all fill different roles.

They are: the smoothing plane, the trying plane, the shoulder plane, and the low-angle block plane. In addition, I’d add the spokeshave, and the jack plane to complete the basic set. (And at this stage, I still need to add a spokeshave and jack plane to complete my set!)

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Now I know that what I have here do not look like the planes you normally expect to see, but other than quite a different looking form to the modern plane, they still perform the same function.

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I also really like the fact they come in such a traditional looking box…

The left-hand plane is the low-angle block plane. The low angle makes it very good for end-grain, and given it’s small size, is very convenient for a number of quick shaving jobs (like taking off the edge of a board)

The plane on the right is the shoulder plane. It is unusual, because the blade gets right to the edge of the plane itself, so planing the shoulder of a tenon is achievable (and where it gets its name from). It can also be used to cut a rebate, or a dado.

The last two planes really do complement each other, and as you can see, look quite like each other, just different sizes. They do have different functions. The large plane is called a Trying Plane, and is used to flatten a board. Because of its length, it rides across high spots, allowing them to be planed down, rather than following the rise and fall and just smoothing them. It can remove quite a bit of material quickly, and is the original version of what we know as a jointer (or planer) when talking about powered tools.

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The other is a smoothing plane. Capable of removing the finest of shavings, and leaving a surface so smooth and shiny, that only a light touch with 400 – 600 grit sandpaper is needed before reaching for the finish.

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The smoothing plane can cut so fine, that you can easily read through the shaving it produces.

So these are the 4 planes, and each needs a razor sharp blade to function. In the case of the trying and smoothing planes, I have a very thick chunk of high quality steel, and for the smoothing plane in particular, I chose a cryogenically treated steel. Bloody hard to sharpen (because it is so hard), but it holds a beautiful edge. I sharpen these on Japanese waterstones, using the Veritas Mk2 Honing jig. (The blades are so thick, you can pretty easily do it by hand, but I don’t get enough practice to trust myself.)

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Here in this final image, I decided to measure the thickness of the shaving I was getting off the smoothing plane. You might be able to see it, reading 0.01mm, or in other words approximately 4/10000th of an inch (ie about 1/2 a thousandth of a inch). I’m probably beyond the capabilities of the gauge to measure that fine. I think that is thin enough!

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