Roy Underhill’s Bench Hooks

Last Sunday morning I was searching YouTube looking for a Woodwright’s Shop episode to watch but everyone I found was really grainy on my TV. So I kept searching Roy Underhill videos when I ran across a nice high definition video he did for Lie-Nielsen Tool Works making a couple of bench hooks. I used to have a bench hook that I made based off of Robert Wearing’s book Making Woodwork Aids and Devices about 30 years ago. It was super simple jig. Just a piece of 6″ wide plywood with a piece of wood nailed on each side. But I liked Roy’s bench hooks so much I decided to make a couple, except I made mine using some power tools.

I found this piece of scrap cherry about 12″ long and 13″ long and knew it would work.

I scribed a 3″ line down the piece and cut a couple of chunks off on the band saw.

Then I milled all four faces smooth with my bench plane.

I ended up with two pieces of 2″ thick cherry, 3″ wide by 12″ long.

I then raised my table saw blade to 1″ and set my fence 2″ from blade. I cut a groove on the side of the piece, then flipped it over and ran it again on the other side.

Next I drew a line from the corner end of the piece to the bottom of the scored cut line on each side of the piece. Because these lines diverge at less than 90 degrees, it makes the top of the bench hook bite into the workpiece holding the wood secure.

Then I cut the waste off at my band saw giving it the classic bench hook shape.

I cleaned up the rough face left by the band saw with my bench plane and card scraper.

I then rounded over the ends of the bench hooks using my edge sander. I taped the off cuts to the face of the bench hook in order to keep it flat on the table.

I broke all the corners of the bench hooks with a bastard file and sanded them smooth.

I simply applied two coats of shellac and drilled a hang hole in each one. They’ll eventually be beaten up and dirty so I wasn’t too concerned about using a durable finish.

I finished making the bench hooks in about an hour. They’re nearly a necessity when it comes to using a back saw as it allows your hand to hold the workpiece more securely.

These bench hook are nice but they may be little over kill. A bench hook doesn’t have to be anything more than scrap piece of a 2×4 like on the side of the workbench shown in the picture below. If you don’t have any, make them. You’ll wonder what took you so long.

I’m Back in The Game

After dealing with the corona virus and getting hit with a tornado in the spring, my eBay store took a major hit as I ran out of inventory to sell. Since all the antique shows and tool auctions were cancelled it was simply tough to find tools. So, I decided to shut my store down until things got better and life settled down a bit.

Thankfully after a few months, antique shows started to open again and I was able to have some free time after Anita and I put our house back together after the tornado. I was able to acquire almost fifty tools in the past few weeks and began listing them on eBay.

I listed about twenty tools on eBay and threw some of the pictures on my Instagram page letting people know they were available for sale.

Amazingly of the five planes I posted on Instagram, all of them sold within 24 hours. I’m not sure if everyone who bought the planes originally saw my post but it sure seems like that. I was thinking that I should start promoting my tools on social media

So I decided to try it again, but this time with a couple of Craftsman No 3C BB’s I also had listed for sale. I again threw a few pictures on Instagram promoting the listings pointing followers to where they can buy them. But after a few days, no one bought them. Drats! Looks like Instagram isn’t a sure way to promote and sell tools.

Had these planes would have been Stanley No 3 planes, they would have sold right away, but few people realize that Millers Falls made Craftsman planes for Sears for a few years. Even though the Craftman planes don’t share all the same features as Millers Falls planes, they still make nice users.

I still have a few tools for sale and hopefully they’ll sell quick. I need some money for The World’s Longest Yard Sale this week. Lol

Coping Crown Molding

I spent last weekend putting back up the crown molding in our dining room. Before I began, I did a YouTube search on installing the stuff. I came across a video of a guy who cuts his inside corners by angling his compound miter saw to 30 degrees then swings his saw to 35 degrees to make his cuts. I tried his technique but I couldn’t get my cuts to line up at all. The inside cuts where fine, but when I tried the 45 degree outside cut around my built-in cabinets, I couldn’t get both to line up.

Frustrated, I did another search, but this time through Google. That’s where I came across a video of Tom Silva of This Old House. In it he should how he coped the inside corner. Then it clicked that’s how I did it before. You simply install one end of the corner up straight on the wall, then cope the other side with a coping saw. I figured if I get advise from anyone, I’ll get it from Tom Silva as he knows what he’s talking about.

This is the back side of the coped piece. I had to file the backside a little bit so it would fit nicer. I posted some of these pictures on Instagram and a trim carpenter made a comment that he appreciated me doing it the right way. He said some contractors give him grief coping his corners but it actually saves time once you know what you’re doing.

Not a perfect fit by any means but it will work. I discovered when learning to cope crown molding; the first one will be garbage, the second try will be a little bit better, the third attempt will almost be there, the fourth one will work, the fifth one will be nicer, and the sixth cope you’ll finally figure it out. The problem is that by the time you figure it out, you’ll be done with the room.

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My final inside corner was my best as I figured it out. If the measurement of the wall was 87 5/8″ long, I cut 45 degree angle on my miter saw and coped it. Then I measure from the bottom on the cope out 87 1/2″ and cut it straight 90 degrees on the miter saw. This way this gave me a 1/8″ to play with when I installed it up on the wall. The 1/8″ gap on the wall won’t matter because it will be covered by the cope of the next piece. All you’ll end up seeing is a small little hole at the bottom of the molding that will be filled with caulk.

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The biggest trick in cutting crown is that you have to cut it upside down. I installed a fence to the miter gauge so that the crown laid the same way it will on the wall so my cuts will be more accurate.

I spent all day doing the dining room and down the hall. I had to scarf joint the molding down the hall because my pieces were only 12′ long.

I had to do eight inside corners and three outside corners.

Any minor errors in the cuts gets filled with caulk and the nail holes gets puttied. Once the molding is lightly sanded and painted, I’ll look like a professional trim carpenter.

Putting Deck Rail Back Up

The last couple of weekends have been really nice in Cincinnati so we took advantage of the weather and decided to complete the railing on the deck. We actually started to replace the railing and some of the deck boards on the 15 year old deck before we got hit by the tornado a couple of months ago.

The railing is really simple, just some custom 4×4 posts, 2×4’s for the rails, plastic rail supports to hold the railing to the posts, and rectangle aluminum spindles. Simply measure the distance between posts and subtract 1/4″ of the total measurement for the thickness of the plastic supports. Then add back the 1/4″ for the top hand rail. The final step was to figure out where the spindles go by using simple math and spacing them 4″ apart.

These things are a God send and worth every penny. They’re about $5 for a pair and save a whole bunch of time and frustration installing the rails to the posts. On my old railing, I toe nailed them to the post with 3″ decking screws. Some rails held up, many didn’t.

To attach the posts to the side of the deck, I cut a notch half way through the post by running my circular saw over the notched area many times. Then I took a chisel and popped off the chunks, followed by smoothing the face with my Stanley 140 block plane. Then I bolted the posts securely making sure it was plum.

The trickiest post to do was the inside corner. This post I cut notched on both sides of the post and cut a square hole into the deck board, then slid the post inside and bolted it from the side of the deck.

When it came to installing the stair railing I had to take my time and figure out all the different angles. Because my stairs come off my deck at 45 degrees, I had to notch out the corners of the posts to attach my rail supports.

I had to cut the notch deep enough so that the plastic support would fit nicely inside. The support was temporary attached to the post so I could figure out the correct angle it needed to be.

Ideally the notch would be 45 degrees on the post, but my stairs were not a perfect 45 degrees of the deck. I had to play with the angle so that the railing would be inline with my steps. I simply eyeballed what the angle should be and cut more on one side of the posts to change the angle of the notch.

After a little trial and error, and constantly nibbling off the length of the rail, I got it to fit nicely between the posts. I attached the rail supports to the end of the rail and screwed it onto the posts. Then repeated the process for the bottom rail as well.

The next thing to do was to figure out the angles for the top rail. Since the rail is angled upward, simply cutting a 90 degree notch at a 45 degree angle on the board won’t work. The angle has to be more acute than 90 degrees and the underside needs to be angled back so the rail fits snugly against the post. I used my template gauge in order to find the right angle and cut everything using my reciprocating saw.

It’s not a perfect fit but it’s good enough for a deck. Once the angles were cut on both sides, I screwed the hand rail onto the top rail with 2 1/2″ decking screws.

Because of the angle of the step rail, the 32″ long aluminum spindles are too long. I simply cut off about an inch of length by cutting them on my chop saw, then drilled new 1/4″ holes on my drill press.

I figured out the spacing on the spindles an attached each one to the rails making sure they were plumb by using a torpedo level. I spaced all my spindles 4″ from each other using a scrap piece of wood that was 4″ long.

The next day, I finished the other stair rail. This one went much quicker since I knew what I was doing.

The railing looks nice from the yard and you can’t spot any of my mistakes. Even though you can barely see them in the photo, I glued some spacers under the bottom rail so they won’t bow down. We’ll stain the entire deck in the coming weeks. Now it’s back on to working on the inside of the house.

Back Home

After two months of living in a hotel, we finally moved back home this weekend. It’s been long journey having to put our home back together after getting hit by a tornado, but it’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even Bentley was getting sick of living in a hotel.

Since we were out of our home, Anita and I took the opportunity and redo our shower tile. It turned out to be a huge pain in the ass but we’re happy with the results. We redid our bathroom 15 years ago but it seemed a little outdated so we figured it would be the perfect time to spruce it up. Includung the new tile, we had the electricians install a can light in the shower so it wouldn’t be so dark inside.

All the rooms needs to be repainted after the drywallers replaced our ceilings. Anita is taking charge of this since she loves to paint and she says I’m terrible at it.

We had our hardwood floors refinished and I saved $700 by installing the shoe molding myself. I used my Stanley 150 miter box and it did a fantastic job. It was nice and small and it was a lot easier to use than dragging my power miterbox upstairs.

We put our kitchen back together as soon as we could so we could stay at the house and eat dinner. Fortunately, our appliances and cabinets were in pods in our driveway so we just had to put them on a dolly and wheel them back in.

With the house being a priority, the shed will have to wait a few more weeks until I decide how to take it down and what type of shed to rebuild in its place. Hopefully, I’ll get back to woodworking in a few months but there’s still a boatload to do, including putting up the crown molding in the dining room, the backsplash in the kitchen and the railing on the deck.

As bad as this experience has been, the worst part of it is that my cat died. She was 18 and in poor health. We couldn’t bring her to the hotel every night so we kept her outside as she was an inside and outside cat her whole life. I would feed her at night as we went to the hotel and then again in the morning to let the contractors in the house. I saw her around for the first couple of weeks but then I never saw her again. I asked my neighbor if he had seen her and he said he did at first but hadn’t seen her in a few days. I assume she went off in the woods to die. She had stage four renel kidney failure. The vet said she would only last another six months when I took her in two years ago. She had a great life. I’m just sorry she died alone.

The Clean Up

It’s been a few weeks since we got hit with the tornado and Anita and I have spent most of our free time cleaning up the mess. We had a remediation company come in and tear out all of our ceilings down due to the wetness of the rain. After they got done, our home felt like an empty shell.

I took a video of the demolition to give you a better idea of how much they destroyed.

While waiting to hear back from the insurance company about the approval of the drywall estimate, we had our kitchen rewired. Thankfully, we’ll start to get drywall put back up next Wednesday. It will take seven to ten days for them to be done, then it’s onto the floors.

I spent a weekend cleaning up the rest of the yard. I disassembled my shed as best as I could by removing the windows and doors. I’ll have to figure out how to take down the rest of the shed, but right now the house is the priority.

Thankfully the roof has been completely replaced. It was done a couple of weeks ago since it was an emergency service. The company did an excellent job and they were done within a few hours. As soon as the drywall goes up and the hardwood floors get refinished, we’re moving back in, even if that means sleeping in the basement. Hotel life is getting old.

Tornado

Just when you think life can’t get any tougher, God laughs at you and says “take this buddy.” Wednesday night, my wife and I survived being in a tornado.

Around 11:00pm we were watching Ozark on Netflix when I started getting Severe Storm alerts on my phone. At first I was pissed that I kept getting them but Anita said we should turn on the news to see what was going on. There were storms rolling in directly at us. I then heard the sirens so I went out front to see what was going on. The air was real still and it was raining a little bit but nothing bad. Then I started to feel the wind pick up. I went back in and told Anita the wind was picking up so she went to the screened in porch to see things herself. When she got out there she yelled for me and Bentley, our dog, to go the basement as she heard a train coming. No longer than 30 seconds after we hit the basement did we feel the pressure of the tornado above us. It felt like my head was going to explode as the  pressure of the tornado went through our bodies. As soon as I felt it, I knew it was bad as it was something I had never felt before in a storm. We hunkered down by the basement steps until it passed. We both smelt smoke and later figured out that it was the wind blowing down our chimney and blowing soot into our house. After waiting the storm out for a few minutes, we ventured upstairs to see what was going on. Anita immediately saw that there was water gushing down from our ceiling light fixtures. Oh fuck! Now I knew it was a tornado. I went out in the screened in porch and I saw my elderly neighbor’s garage was completely destroyed. I ran over next door in the rain to make sure they were both alright.

The rain kept pouring in from our ceilings so I grabbed as many buckets and bins as I could to try to capture the water. After a few minutes in shock, Anita called our insurance company. They had a crew come out to our house around 2:30am to tarp up our roof to prevent any more damage from happening. By then, the storm had passed and everyone in the neighborhood was out checking on all the damage.

After only getting a couple of hours of sleep, I walked around my house in the morning to see the extent of the damage. My neighbors garage took a direct hit. As we drove around the neighborhood, you can see the path the twister took as it took out several large trees.

The arboviate trees we had planted at the side of our yard were all laying down on their side. We lost five trees in the storm. Three pear trees, an apple tree and a huge pine tree in our front yard.

I was missing my garbage cans and ended up finding them later that afternoon 200 yards from my house down in a creek.

Yesterday my friends came over helped me clean up the yard. We stood and staked my arboviates upright again. Hopefully they make it.

Our insurance company put us up in a hotel right now. Anita has been talking with our insurance agent, contractors, and insurance adjusters for the past few days. Every ceiling in our house has to be removed, we need a new roof, and we need our hardwood floors refinished. We’ll be out of our house for several weeks. Not sure what will come from the shed. We’re lucky no one was hurt but it makes me think of the famous quote from Mother Teresa. “I know God won’t give me anything I cannot handle, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Happy Easter!

Over the Moon Show Cancelled

Right now, my wife Anita and I, should be in Lawrenceburg, Indiana doing the Over The Moon Vintage Market but, it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus.

It sucks because we spent months preparing for the show, buying inventory, painting antiques, making home decor items and pricing everything. Some of the items that Anita wanted to sell, she now has listed on Mercari and Facebook Marketplace in order to drum up some cash. She’s doing okay with it, but it’s nothing like what the sales would have had been at the show. What really sucks is that the two antique malls that Anita sells at are currently closed so money is really tight right now.

Here are the garden spoons I made back in the winter that I wrote about. I was hoping they would be a hit so I could determine if I should spend the time to make more. Now I’ll just have to wait.

Unfortunately, my huge display cabinet I built a couple of months ago will now have to remain in the basement until the next show in December. I was really looking forward to seeing how Anita would decorate it.

In all honestly, with everything that’s going on in the world, the cancellation of the show is small potatoes compared to what some people are going through with this virus. It’s during times like these you really need to count your blessings. Hopefully, things will be back to normal by the middle of June. Stay safe everyone.

Scrap Wood Mobile Base

I spent some time this weekend cleaning up my basement when I came across a set of casters lying around. I forget why I bought them, but they were just sitting in a box for some unknown reason. When I saw them, I thought to myself that I could use them to make a mobile base for my jointer.

I’ve owned a 6″ Delta Jointer since I was a kid. I use it from time to time but eveytime I do, I have to drag it out from behind my band saw so I can plug it in. The jointer isn’t huge but it does weigh over 100lbs so it’s kind of a pain in the ass to move. I thought about buying a mobile base for it but they run between $80-100. I’m too cheap to spend money on something I wouldn’t use that often so the jointer has never been upgraded with mobility.

When I found the casters I looked around for some scrap wood to make the base. The base of the jointer stand is 19″ wide by 35″ long so the inside of the frame it needed to sit in had to be 20″ x 36″.  I grabbed some scrap 2 x 10’s and ripped them 2″ wide to make the frame. I wanted to make the long rails of the frame 40″ with 20″ stiles but as luck would have it, the longest piece of 2 x 10 I had was 36″ long so I had to make the rail of the frame 36″ and the stiles 24″ long. After the frame was screwed together, I took 1/2″ plywood, cut two squares, then cut them diagonal to make four triangles. Then I screwed, glued, and barbecued everything together.

Now is the part where I messed up. Since I was building this thing on the fly without plans, I didn’t think too much about the space the casters needed. I originally took a 2 x 8 and trimmed it to 6″ wide by 24″ long and attached it to the frame. The casters fit on the wood but they didn’t have enough room to spin around.

So, I had to add 1 1/2″ wide piece of wood to the 6″ to make the overall width 7 1/2″ wide or basically the width of a 2 x 8. Doh! Overall, I’m happy with the way it came out (especially since it was free). It actually took me longer to write this post than it did to make the mobile base. Now I won’t have to struggle dragging my jointer from behind my band saw everytime I need to use it.