Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hand tools....

I'm admittedly a power tool person when it comes to woodworking. My skills with hand tools are very limited, however, I am really trying to learn more about using them properly. I have a set of basic chisels already and I have a couple of cheap hand planes. They're both Kobalt ones from Lowe's, and while I know all the hand tool "experts" out there will balk at that, I don't really care. I still need to learn how to tune the planes properly, but I can get paper-thin shavings from my No. 4 and it does do what I want to some extent, but I'm sure it can be better.

I have learned a few things from using hand tools:

  • I can't saw straight by hand to save my life.
  • The back saw that I got from Ace is not a precision tool.
  • Hand planing a board is a workout.
  • I need a proper bench for doing work with hand tools.
It's a workout, but I did manage to plane this face flat and square.
 I've been trying to do some work on my new assembly table that I built, but there's no vise on it. I have been surviving with it by doing some creative clamping and just trying my best with it. I am starting to design a bench that might work for me, but I can also try to get by with what I have if I finally get that vise for my storage bench I built a long time ago. I have to clean off the bench and see if there's enough room for me to work with.

I really need to organize all my tools and figure out where to put everything I have. I also need to clean up my garage some more and make some space so I can work on projects.

Another thing that I've had to really get better at now that I'm using more hand tools is sharpening. I used a combination of my table saw, planer, and my hand planes to make a couple of strops. I brought one into my house for use with my kitchen knives and one is going to stay out in the shop for my chisels and plane irons. It definitely took me longer to true up a face and square an edge with the plane than it did to dimension things out with the table saw.

Now I can strop my chisels and planes. Hopefully that means better cuts.
I'm very sure that I won't be going entirely the hand tool route any time soon. While I do have a much greater appreciation for them, I know that I do enjoy the convenience of my power tools. I'm going to really have to try to develop a "hybrid" style where I use a combination of hand tool techniques and power tool techniques to make good projects. I think it can be done. I just need to practice. A lot.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Assembly Table Finished

I finished the assembly table a few weeks back, but I never posted about it because I was busy with work and all that. I also didn't really take a lot of pictures because I was more interested in just getting it done.

I had bought my clamp fixtures for the second set of 5 foot clamps that I needed last July when I was working on the table. It took me a long time to get the pipes, and I somehow managed to score the two pieces of pipe for free. With all the pipe clamps I needed, I was able to assemble the frame for the table and get it all together.

I made the lower shelf out of the remnant of AC plywood that I had when I built the top. It was sitting outside in the elements so I had to work around some water-damaged parts. There was enough good wood to make the shelf, though.

Considering that I left the top out in the elements too, I'm surprised it was still as flat as it was. Sealing the bottom of the top with spar varnish was a very good idea. I topped it with Masonite, used some pine from a leftover board I had to edge it out, and got it all assembled, sanded, and slid over to its final resting place in my garage.

As a happy plus, I now have a place for my sander that isn't on the floor. The one downside is that the table doesn't have casters, but that was more by design. I wanted to have something that was solid to the ground so I could hammer on it and not have it slide around. It seems to work great. I already used the table to put together a picture frame and the slightly lower height and the pretty flat surface made putting everything together easy.

I like the design of this table and it was pretty cheap since it's basically a whole pile of 2x4s, which aren't that expensive, one sheet of plywood, and a sheet of Masonite that I still have a lot left from. I have more than enough of that leftover to make another table. I think I'm going to finally get my butt in gear and make that replacement miter saw bench. This design worked out pretty well for me, and I think the miter bench will go together in a very similar manner. I'll probably incorporate some drawers and storage on that bench since it's bigger and I might make that one mobile.

I really need to stop taking so long to finish my projects. Now that Nadine and I have been cleaning out the patio in the house and finally making some room, I have a chance to start putting in the furniture I want. I just have to design and build all of it.