Woodsmith Survey

I received this email from Woodsmith Magazine today. They asked me to take a short survey, which being a Marketing major I usually oblige because I know that knowing the needs of your target audience can be helpful in understanding your customer base. I didn’t read the email close enough so, I figured the survey would mainly be about what kind of tools I own and what I plan to buy in the next year. Typical woodworking stuff.

So, I click on the link and it sent me to a third party website. It starts off with the usual questions of what’s your age, sex, nationality, etc. Then the next section is about what kind of car you drive and whether you plan on buying a new car in the future. I thought it was a little strange questioning, but I answered figuring it’s not a big deal telling them I drive a Ford Ranger.

But then, the next section starts asking me questions about my financial stability, how much money I had in the bank, and whether I own my own home. I quickly answered “None of your Business” and went onto the next section.

By this time, I was half way through the questioniare when it asked me about my health status and what types of medications I take. There wasn’t even an option not to answer and move forward. That’s when I got pissed off and left the survey.

Why the hell does Active Interest Media want to know about my financial status and my personal health? And why the hell would I tell them what type of medications I’m taking? My employer doesn’t even know what medications I take. How is knowing any of this going to sell more magazines? My guess is that they are planning on having more advertising in their pages in the coming issues and want to know what companies they should try to persuade to advertise in Woodsmith.

My privacy is important to me. I’m sure as hell not going tell you my personal information for a chance to win a $100. Hell, you couldn’t pay me a $100 to devolve that kind of information. I guarentee whomever fills out this survey will be bombarded by spam emails, texts and phone calls from various companies as their personal information will be bought and sold over the open market. What a joke.

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.

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.