Why didn’t I do this 25 years ago?

I’ve owned this Kreg jig for over 25 years. In fact, I believe this is the first style of Kreg Jig that was ever sold. I bought it at The Woodworking Show when they were worth going to before the age of the internet. It’s worked well over the years, but I noticed that I would have to back the bit out to remove the shavings before I could reach the final hole depth. Wasn’t a huge deal but it did make drilling pocket holes tougher.

Then yesterday I went to Lowes to buy more screws when I decided to buy the small kit that came with a new drill bit for $20. My bit was duller than shit from years of use and I wanted the single pocket jig anyway for drilling pockets in narrow wood. The bit itself is about $14 so the kit was a no-brainer.

I noticed the new jig has a relief hole right behind the metal collar to allow for chip removal while my original one didn’t have that.

So, I took my jig to the drill press and drilled a couple of 11/32″ holes behind the metal collars. Stupidily simple.

Sure enough, the holes worked perfectly removing the chips. Twenty five years of using this damn thing and it could have been so much better had I just thought about the chip removal issue for a minute.

Hemp Oil

A couple of days ago I was reading the Lost Art Press blog where Chris Schwarz mentions the different types of finishes he uses and which of those finishes look good immediately versus those that look good over 20 years. He then lists examples like; milk paint, waxes, and oils of all sorts (linseed, tung, walnut, etc.) Then I thought to myself, “Well hell, Anita has been using hemp oil for years. I wonder how many people know about it?”

Hemp oil is a 100% natural, biodegradable finish pressed from hemp seeds. As you may know hemp and marijuana are sometimes confused with one another. Hemp contains no THC and you can’t get high from it’s fumes. Hemp oil is food safe, has no chemicals, no VOC’s and is completely breathable which is HUGE for me.

My shop sits in the basement of our house. Getting proper ventilation down there with little basement windows is nearly impossible. I can’t use any type of solvents or chemicals down there as it stinks up the whole house. I can’t even spray WD40 without my wife getting upset about the smell. It’s one of the reasons I use shellac on many of my projects and coat my antique tools with my own blend of mineral oil – orange oil – beeswax solution. I even have to use Minwax stains in the garage.

Hemp oil doesn’t stink up the house as it smells like crushed walnuts. My wife loves the stuff! She uses on nearly everything she paints. And if she doesn’t mind the smell, then it must be good! We’ve been buying it by the gallon at Homestead House Paint company in Canada. Because hemp is often associated with marijuana, it’s been tough to find a supplier for it in the states (but that may change as more states legalize marijuana and become more educated about hemp). Unfortunately, the majority of hemp oil that is available around here is sold as an essential oil for outrageous prices.

According to their website, they sell smaller quantities of the stuff, but I can only select to buy one gallon or five gallon buckets. If you want to try hemp oil without jumping in too deep, you can find a store that sells Miss Mustard Seed milk paint. Miss Mustard Seed is a lady who has a popular design and painting blog and she partnered with Homestead House to brand her own line of paint. It’s basically the exact same stuff.

I applied two coats of hemp oil on some scrap hardwood samples to show how they turn out on various species. In my opinion cherry looks the best as it really pops the grain. Poplar is shown just to show how the oil would look on secondary woods like the sides of drawers.

You apply hemp oil the same way as tung oil with a brush or cloth and allow it to dry wiping off the excess in about twenty minutes. Because the oil doesn’t have any solvents, it takes a bit longer for it to dry. In fact, I’ve seen some extra oil to wipe off after 24 hours when the oil has been allowed to absorb in the wood. It takes about thirty days to fully cure. Because hemp oil is food safe, you can even use it on cutting boards and wooden utensils.

Below are a few pieces Anita has painted or stained over the years with hemp oil as a top coat. As you can see, it gives off a matte finish with little sheen which looks nice on old furniture. If you have a basement shop and can’t take the fumes, give hemp oil a try.

Grizzly No 7C Jointer Plane

Last weekend on the Worlds Longest Yard Sale I picked up this Grizzly jointer plane for a fair price. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Woodriver plane but then I saw the knurled screw on the lever cap and thought that maybe it was a Bench Dog plane or even an Avant. After I asked my followers on Instagram what brand it was, I was told it’s sold through Grizzly.

I took the plane apart to get a look at the all the parts. The biggest thing I saw was the design of the frog. This little tab to adjust the the frog seems rather weak as it could easily break off after years of use. I didn’t realize the flange and screw design of Bailey planes was so expensive to make that they would have to change the design of the frog to eliminate it. LOL Why they opted for this tab and stupid looking screw is beyond me.

There’s no makers name on the blade so its clear that this plane is probably made by a Chinese company like Quangsheng as they make planes for a bunch of different companies.

Another thing I noticed is the back of the lever cap looks unfinished. It reminds me of the homeowner Fulton or Shelton brand planes sold at Sears back in the day.

You can tell that the manufacturing tolerances are not very tight as the two frog hold down screws have different size slots milled at the top. It was a pain in the ass to remove the screw with the wider slot as my screwdriver kept slipping. You can see how easily it marred the top as the steel they used is not very strong.

The biggest issue I saw was the length of the lever cap overhung the chip breaker when it was fully seated down on the plane. This would cause the plane to jam with shavings as they would get caught underneath the lever cap. I had to raise the lever cap up a little bit for shavings to pass through.

The plane’s blade was ground at 25 degrees but still needed to be honed. Amazingly, the plane cut rather well after I hit the blade with my waterstones. The sole of the bed felt smooth and I was able to get a nice shaving with a little bit of tuning. How well it will cut like this I have no idea as I don’t know the quality of the blade’s steel but I assume it’s not the best.

The shaving was .01 thick which is fine for a jointer. It’s a shame the plane has some design and manufacturing quality issues. It could be a real nice plane for decent money as it’s only $94 on Amazon.

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.