Replacing my Tormek Sharpening Stone

After using my Tormek sharpening machine for the past twenty years, it was time for a new stone. When I researched replacement wheels, I read all about the new CBN wheels on the market that stay flat and don’t require water to use. The one disadvantage I saw with these wheels, is that the side of the stones are prettty narrow. When I sharpen old plane blades, I like to flatten the back of them as well, so I often grind the back of the blade with the side of the stone. I was afraid that the narrowness of the CBN stones wouldn’t do the job as well as my original stone. I’ve been happy with the stone that came with the machine so, if it ain’t broke, dont fix it.

I knew the hard part of replacing the stone would be taking the old one off. I grabbed a 3/4″ wrench and tried like hell to unscrew the nut. I whacked on the wrench with a hammer as hard as I could hoping not to bend the shaft of the machine. It was so tough to get off, my stone cracked and fell apart.

After about twenty minutes of cussing and using a half of a can of PB Blaster, the nut finally freed itself. Once I took the remainder of the stone off, I tried to put the new stone on, but the shaft was so rusted and corroded, I had to sand the shaft smooth in order for the new stone to slide on.

I slipped on the new stone and noticed that it moved up and down just a little bit. Curious, I removed it from the machine and also removed the stropping wheel on the other side so I could remove the shaft in order to get a better look at what was going on.

Sure enough, the plastic gasket that was next to the stone had wore a larger hole in it from use over the past twenty years. Not having a replacement gasket on hand, I simply switched the gaskets from eachother sides hoping they will still work.

Now with a “new” gasket in place, the shaft wouldn’t fit into the hole because of all the corrosion on it so, I carefully filed and sanded the rust away. After a few minutes, I was able to get the shaft nicely seated in the machine.

I checked the squareness of the stone to my crossbar and it looked much better than before. For years when I used the Tormek, it would cut slightly heavier on one side of the blade. I would compensate for this error by tilting the angle of my blade in the jig just a smudge. After messing around with the machine this afternoon, I finally understand why it would cut heavier on one side.

I turned the machine on and checked how everything was running. The stone wobbles just a touch but, from how hard I was hitting the wrench with a hammer in order to get that nut off, I’m not surprised. As long as the machine sharpens blades fine, I’m happy with it.

A Bird Feeder with a Past

Two years ago, our house got hit by a tornado. One of saddest part from all of the damage was the destruction of the shed I built a few years ago. I was so devastated, I never rebuilt it. As I tore down the shed, I kept some of the lumber hoping I would use the wood to rebuild a new one however, with 2x4s costing $7.00 a piece, I never rebuilt it and left the wood on top of the shed’s wooden platform.

Along with shed being destroyed, a bird feeder was also destroyed in the storm. My wife, Anita, finally wanted a new feeder in the yard so I decided to use some of the cedar from the shed to make a new bird feeder. I cleaned up the boards, removed the nails and milled up some boards from the trim I kept from the shed.

After the boards were milled, I glued some boards together and started cutting up the parts for the bird feeder. The feeder was so simple to build I believe I built one just like it in the 9th grade.

After a couple of hours of work, the bird feeder was installed back on top of the post. The birds are happy again and I gave new life to part of my destroyed shed. This summer, we’re finally planning on building a greenhouse on top of the platform.

Dowel Joiner from the 1980’s

Many years ago, I went to The Woodworking Show in Columbus, Ohio and bought this Dowel Crafter jig after seeing it being demonstrated.

I can count on my hand how many times I used it over the decades. There’s really nothing wrong with it, I just never got excited about dowel joinery.

The concept is simple. You draw a line on two mating boards and use it as a guide for the jig. You mark one piece “X”and the other piece “O”.

You then line up your mark with one of the alphabet letters on the jig and clamp it down. Then you flip it over and drill your holes through the circular black guides. The two guides spin and lock in place with a nut depending on how big of a dowel you’re using. Once you drill your “X” hole you repeat the process for the “O” hole.

You now have four holes that correspond with eachother. Next you can either use dowels or in my case, make a dowel with my Stanley No77 Dowel Making machine. I then cut the dowels and punch them through my Lie Nielsen Dowel Plate so they are the perfect diameter. When sticking them in the holes, they line up perfectly, giving me a nice tight fitting and strong joint.

This jig can also make dowelled miter cuts but you have to do it bass-ackwards. You first take your two pieces and mark your line. Then you drill your holes just as before. The jig had plastic 90 degree dowels you could buy as a kit. You can see how many plastic dowels I have used over the past 35 years.

After the holes are drilled, you cut your 45’s on the miter box and glue them together. The joint is remarkably strong. By far the strongest miter joint I’ve ever made.

You can buy this jig on eBay for about $20 but good luck finding the 90 degree plastic dowels. I love using this jig so much that I went out and bought a Festool Domino. Go figure. I hate dowel joints!

Updating The Kitchen

About 12 years ago, we decided to update our kitchen from the 1980’s colonial style cabinetry into the new century with a new Tuscan style of cabinetry. It looked great for years but, after we got hit with the tornado last year, Anita wanted to use the opportunity to update the kitchen again into a modern farmhouse style of kitchen. This is the only photo I have of the cabintery I made when we were reinstalling them after the tornado.

Luckily, the only thing that really needed to be done was simply paint the cabinets, get new hardware and update the backsplash. Anita went with a two toned cabinetry with white on the top and dark gray on the bottom.

We took down the Tuscan style tile and installed ship lap as the backsplash. It’s been up for the past eight months and has held up better than I would have expected. There has been no staining on the wood whatsoever even though the kitchen gets used on a daily basis.

The biggest issue we had with the update was the that I had to make a new drawer front for underneath the sink. Before that, we had a wooden fluer de lis applique nailed on the kitchen base.

Making the drawer front was going to be a challenge since I no longer owned a router table. I had to jimmy one up real quick so I grabbed a piece of plywood and laid where I wanted the router to sit.

Then I drilled a few holes so that I could install the router with an opening large enough to accept my panel raising bit.

I then grabbed a piece of scrap wood and routed out the underside to act as a fence.

Adding two clamps to hold down the fence, BOOM!, an instant router table. Using a router table like this can be a bit dangerous as I had no safety shields above the bit, but it just kept me on my toes.

After a little trial and error with scrap wood, I was able to route the edge of the panel with ease.

I needed a round over for the edge of the drawer front so I stuck a 3/8″ round over bit in the router and grabbed another piece of scrap wood for the fence.

My sample board looked great, so I was confident I could get this bit to work well.

After taking a few passes and cleaning up the edge with a rabbet plane, the drawer front was done.

My wife painted the piece dark gray to match the other cabinets and I nailed it onto the kitchen base with 18 gauge brads. Nearly a year after we got hit with the tornado, our updated kitchen is complete.

Sharpening a Blade with an Oscillating Drum Sander

I was reading Journeyman’s Journal blog this week (if you don’t follow him, you should) and he had a quick post about someone who submitted a tip to a woodworking magazine about sharpening a block plane blade with a drill press. The tip shows a block plane blade in a drill press vise with a drum sander attached in the chuck. You would raise and lower the handle grinding a bevel on the blade while sharpening it at the same time. I looked at the tip and laughed thinking there’s no way that would work. But after thinking about it for a minute, I wanted to see if it actually would work. I knew I could try it but instead of using a drill press, I could use my oscillating drum sander. So, I grabbed an old plane blade and gave it a go.

I have this old Ryobi oscillating drum sander. It’s nothing special. In fact, I think I bought it at Sears about 30 years ago. It still works fine so I’ve never bothered buying a new one. I decided to sharpen the blade with 150 and 220 grit papers.

I wanted a 25 degree bevel on the blade so I clamped the blade into a hand clamp and set it up to the sander at 25 degrees to the table. This actually didn’t work because of the diameter of sanding sleeve changed the angle of attack. I probably should have used a larger diameter of a drum in order to get a more accurate bevel on the blade but I really didn’t care since I wasn’t going to use the blade full time in a plane anyway.

I carefully sanded the blade taking it on and off the drum every few seconds so not to burn the edge. After I ground the bevel with 150 grit, I switched to 220 grit paper and repeated the process.

Here’s the edge after I took it off the sander. You can see the heavy burr on the back side of the blade however, the grinding is nice and consistent.

I then took the blade and removed the burrs and honed the edge with my oil stone. It turned out well enough to see how it performs.

As you can see, the bevel turned out to be 35 degrees. I don’t care as I was just trying to determine a proof of concept. If I did care, I would have played with the angle of attack at the sander until the end result was 25 degrees.

I stuck the blade in a Stanley a No 5 plane and tried it out. Sure enough, it took a nice shaving even though the cutting edge was a little too high for my liking. Even though it works, I’ll still stick to my water cooled sharpening machine for grinding a bevel on blades for it’s ease of use.

On Salko’s post, one of his followers posted that a popular woodworking blog-gist, Derek Cohen, sharpens his router plane blades with a drum sander so I had to try that out as well. Below is the blade I’ve been using in my router plane for years but never bothered to sharpen it properly. I sharpened this blade the same way as with the block plane blade. I did this just free hand and didn’t bother to make a jig or holding device for it.

After a few seconds grinding the bevel, I honed the edge on my oil stone and stuck it back in the plane.

Sure enough, it worked like a champ. The router has never cut so nice. Who knew!

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.