My $1.00 Plane

A couple of weekends ago, I went on the World’s Longest Yard Sale on US 127 looking for old tools and other things to sell. Sunday, I ran across a guy selling junk just north of Cincinnati and saw this plane on a table. The guy told me that his prices were negotiable so I asked what he wanted for this plane. He told me $2.00, but I countered that I would give him a buck for it and he accepted. I really didn’t need it, but I wanted to buy something during the day. The blade was marked Van Camp which I believe was a hardware store back in the day however, the plane was more likely made by the Sargent Tool Company.

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Every time I restore a tool, I start by sticking the parts in a tub of water with a cup of citric acid. I let the parts soak for about an hour and then wipe them clean once I take them out of the solution.

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I took the time to fettle the bed since the plane’s body was so small. Honestly, I don’t think the bed was that bad to deserve to be fettled, but I was in the mood. I went through a series of wet sand paper grits, from 220 to 500 to 1000 grit.

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You can see the smoothness of the bed when shown through the light. The bed doesn’t have to be completely free of pitting, just flat enough from front to back.

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After the bed was fettled, I soaked all the parts of the plane with my custom solution of mineral oil, orange oil, and melted bees-wax.

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Next, I sharpened the blade by using my Tormek sharpening system and a set of water stones. I was able to shave the hairs on my arm with this blade.

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All tuned up, the plane takes nice curly shavings. Not bad for a buck.

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For years I used this squirrel tailed plane. It works okay but the shavings are not that clean and it’s a pain in the ass to set properly with the screw and cap.

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You can see the difference when you flip the two over. The area of the mouth is a lot tighter on my buck plane than the squirrel tail plane. The tight mouth keeps the wood fibers pressed down just until they hit the edge of the blade giving me a nicer shaving.

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My new plane still fits nicely in the holder where my old squirrel tailed plane sat. Maybe I should have given the guy $2.00. haha

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A Quick Harvest Table

My wife, Anita, wanted me to make another farmhouse table for her. She sold the last one I made several months ago and missed how it looked in her booth. So, I went to Home Depot and bought three 2×12’s and two 4×4’s.

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Two of the 2 x 12’s I bought, I planed down to 1″ with my surface planer. It did a fine job, but I had three garbage cans full of shavings that I had to burn in my fire pit in order to get rid of.

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I ripped the last 2×12 in half on my band saw, then ran kerfs down each side on my table saw 7/8″ wide so I could use them for the frame of the table. Ripping them down to 7/8″ would allow me to plane one of the pieces to 3/4″. Then I took the 1/2″ off cuts and glued them together to create a 1″ thick stock to mill down to 3/4″ back at the surface planer.

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In the past, I ripped kerfs down the sides of the board and then take it over to the band saw to finish up the ripping. However, this board gave me some real trouble as it kept binding up the band saw blade. Frustrated, I tried everything, even giving it a go with my rip saw, with no luck.

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I was so disgusted I threw up a picture of my struggles on Instagram and then a follower of mine gave me the idea of finishing the ripping with a sawzall. Curious, I gave it a shot and sure enough, it worked perfectly only taking me ten minutes. Social media is awesome!

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With the ripping done, I was ready to get back to business milling and gluing up the off cuts so I could still use them to build the frame of the harvest table.

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With the wood gluing, I turned my attention to the legs. Taking the 4×4’s I cut them to 30″ and turned a leg that my wife was pleased with.

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I then repeated the steps of the first leg to the next three. I ended up with four legs that were identical enough to one another.

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I wanted to use mortise and tenon joinery to attach the frame to the legs. so I set my mortising gauge to 3/8″ wide, the same width of my mortise chisel.

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I ran my mortising gauge down the side of the leg where I wanted a mortise and used the chisel to chop out a shallow area.

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Next I used a 3/8″ forstner bit and drilled down the depth of the mortise. Doing the mortise this way allowed me to not have my drill bit sway outside the mortised area.

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I then finished up the mortise back with my chisel making the ends of the mortise nice and square. This is an unconventional way to make a mortise,  but it allowed me to remove a lot of the waste much quicker than with the chisel alone.

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Test fitting the joint, I was pleased with the results. It took me less than an hour to cut all eight mortises.

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Using one of my beading planes, I planed a 3/8″ bead down the bottom of the frame boards. Cutting a bead on a seven-foot long board takes a bit of patience.

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Using pocket holes, I glued and screwed the frame to the legs and top. My wife wanted this table to be quick and easy which it was.

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I flipped the table over and was happy with my work. The top is just two boards lying next to each other, not even being glued together.

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My wife stained the wood with steel wool and vinegar solution and then applied a couple of coats of milk paint to give the table an old world look.

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Here’s the table in her booth with some of her antiques on top. Quick and easy.

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Whiskey Barrel Coffee Table

My cousin had been asking me to make a whiskey barrel coffee table for her for over a year. I put it off for months because I didn’t know where to buy a whiskey or wine barrel until I ran across a guy on Craigslist who sells them out of his house. Even better, he sells half barrels which was perfect for me as I really didn’t feel like cutting a barrel in half.

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When I got the barrel home, I let it acclimate in my shop for a few weeks. As the barrel dried out, the staves started to fall apart, so I clamped them together using band clamps until I was able to screw fasteners into each stave to hold it in place. While the band clamps were holding the whole barrel together, I laid it on top of white oak boards I bought at a sawmill to see how big I wanted to make the top of the coffee table.

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To keep the barrel together, I screwed hex bolts through the bands into the wood to hold each stave in place. I also leveled the top of the barrel by sanding the edges straight with my belt sander. The barrel came with a stand for it to be used as an outside planter which was helpful in holding it in place while I worked on it.

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My wife didn’t like the look of the hex bolts I used so, I replaced them with #14 stainless steel pan head screws. She was right, the pan head screws look much nicer.

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I designed the shape of the legs by using the stand that came with the barrel to shape the curves. Each leg had an angle to the top that fit the angle of the barrel as it laid flat. I chamfered the edges of the feet to mimic the chamfers on the top and bottom of the barrel.

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You can see how I used the compass to figure out the gap that I needed to shave off the other side of the leg in order for the barrel to fit tight.

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Once I was happy with the legs, I focused on the frame of the barrel. I traced the shape of the barrel onto a piece of wood and cut it out on my band saw. I then trimmed the end of the sides 90 degrees to the edge and double-stick taped it to the other side. This allowed me to clamp the whole frame while it was screwed and glued together.

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After carefully measuring all the pieces, I test fitted the frame together to make sure it would fit nicely on top of the barrel.

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I was more aggressive with the clamps when it came time for the actual glue up. I let this set in place for 24 hours.

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As the base was setting up, I turned my attention to the top. I glued up several white oak boards together and flattened them with my hand planes because the panel was too wide to fit through planer.

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I wanted the top to have a bread board edge so I plowed a groove into the ends that was the same width as my 3/8″ mortising chisel. I would later chop three mortises into the groove to fit tenons I would make.

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To make the tenons, I used both power and hand tools to get the job done. I routed most of the material away with my plunge router, then finalized the fit with my Stanley No 10 1/2 rabbet plane.

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I made sure the panel would fit into to the groove before I cut the tenons

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Cutting out the tenons, I drilled holes through the middle for pins. The middle hole I left round while the tenons on the outside I elongated for the expansion and contraction of the wood.

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Once the joints fit well, I drove pins into the holes and added a dab of glue so the pins wouldn’t fall out.

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I shaped the sides of the top to match the curve of the barrel and lightly rounded over the sides with my hollow molding plane.

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The final shape of the coffee table top came out nicely. Now I needed to find away to attach it to the frame.

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After days of pondering, I decided to attach hinges to the top so that the lid could open and close. The inside of the barrel was charred from the brewing of the whiskey so, it’s not very useful as it will leave ash on your finger if you touch it, but I thought it was cool enough to show off. I clamped my level to the middle of the frame to determine where in proximity the hinges would need to be installed.

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Because the lid overhangs the side by an inch, the barrel of the hinges lay underneath the top when closed. I had to rout out a recess on the underneath of the lid so the top could properly close.

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Even with all my calculating, I ran into a problem. The top would hit the middle of the barrel when I tried opening it. I had to route a recess in the middle of the lid so that there would be enough room for the lid to open. It took several hours of trial and error to make it work, but I finally made it work.

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Once everything worked, I sanded the entire coffee table to 220 grit sand paper and applied a weathered wood enhancer to blend the old barrel to the new white oak. This turned the coffee table a bit purplish gray.

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Next, I stained it Minwax Espresso stain and applied three coats of water based polyurethane for a protective finish. I think the coffee table turned out really nice. Luckily, my work has me going to Detroit next week, so I can deliver the coffee table to my cousin.

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Enlarging an Image

Over the past few months, I’ve been making and selling these Ohio signs in our booths in the antique malls we rent space in. They’re super simple to make. Just old scrap wood I have lying around, painted and stained to make it look like old barn wood. Then I cut the wood out from a pattern and attach the pieces to a plywood back.

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They’ve been so popular, I decided to make a Kentucky one as well since Cincinnati is near the Kentucky border. The Ohio signs are about 15″ x 16″ so I knew I wanted the Kentucky one to be about 24″ long. The problem was that I didn’t have a map of Kentucky that was 24″ large. I decided to Google image a map of Kentucky and print it out on my printer. That left me with a map that was 10 1/2″ long, but I didn’t have a scaling ruler that would work for that size.

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I decided to make a scaling ruler where 10 1/2″ equals 24″ in scale. I grabbed a piece of plywood and ran a line down the board 10 1/2″ wide. I then took my ruler and put the end of the ruler on the line and angled it so that the 12″ mark would be at the other end of the board. I then made a mark on every 1/2″ increment giving me 24 equal units for the 10 1/2″ length.

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I then drew the lines down the board, grabbed a scrap stick and transferred those increments to the board creating my scaled ruler. The units didn’t have to be perfect. I was just trying to get an approximate measurement.

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I then used that scaled ruler and marked lines on both the horizontal and vertical axis of the map creating a grid.

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I then drew 1″ grids on the piece of plywood and drew the pattern of the map onto the wood carefully transferring the image of each little box to the corresponding box on the plywood. This is very similar to games I played as a kid where you would have to create a picture based off random shaded box patterns.

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Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out on the band saw. The template ended up being 24″ long by 12″ tall.

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Here’s the finished Kentucky sign. I shared this image on Instagram and someone wants me to make him one. The work is already paying off. Merry Christmas!

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Everyday Console Table

I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.

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Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.

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Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.

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Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.

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The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.

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Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.

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I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.

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Antique Tool Improver

I’ve been cleaning antique tools for over twenty-five years. When I was fourteen years old my Grandpa gave me a Stanley No 77 dowel machine that took square stock and turned it into dowels. Since that day, I was hooked on old tools. There was something about taking an old neglected tool that was just sitting around collecting dust and bringing it back to life that appealed to me.

I’ve cleaned hundreds if not thousands of tools over the years. When removing all the dirt and rust from an old tool, the final step is to protect it with a penetrating oil so it doesn’t rust again. For years I used Kramer’s Antique Improver and loved the way it protected the wood and metal of the tool giving it a nice sheen. The only problem I had with the oil was the price. At $20.00 for a 8 oz bottle, the stuff wasn’t exactly cheap, but it worked so well I kept using it even though my wife couldn’t stand the smell of the stuff.

Since my wife was no fan of the smell when I used Kramer’s Antique Improver, it got me wondering if I could make something that worked as well for pennies on the dollar. I didn’t want to reproduce Kramer’s exactly because John Kramer uses turpentine and solvents to make his oil. I wanted something simple that I could whip up in a jiffy using only natural products.

I started with melting beeswax. I bought a small 100% beeswax candle and cut a small 1/4″ slab off of it and melt it in the pot. You can always buy granule beeswax at a woodworkers store if you can’t find a 100% beeswax candle.

Once the wax has melted, I add equal parts of orange oil and mineral oil to pot and cook them for one minute. They sell mineral oil at a woodworking supply stores as butcher block oil however, I found mineral oil at the pharmacy for a whole lot less.

Once the oils have cooked in the pot for a minute I pour it in a container. As you can see, my container is nothing more than a Sweet Leaf Ice Tea drink I bought one day.

Using a paper towel, I rub the oil all over tool penetrating it in every spot. You can see the difference of the tool with just one coat of the oil. I usually coat the tool three or four times letting the oil penetrate the entire surface.

The oil works on wood just well as metal. In fact, I coat all my molding planes with the oil. The great thing about my oil is that it’s completely natural, there is no odor and it lasts just as long as Kramer’s. Not to mention that it’s dirt cheap to make.

Is Wood Magazine Going Shabby Chic?

I received the latest issue of Wood magazine yesterday and noticed a project on the cover that I had seen before but with a different twist. They showed an entry bench made from an oak door. I recognized the project because I’ve seen it done a few times before but only with an old door that was repainted.

The style is called shabby chic and is very popular among women. The idea is to take old items, commonly referred to as “junk”, and repurpose them into modern hip accessories or furniture for your home. There are thousands of websites and blogs as well as a number of magazines that focus on the shabby chic style. There are even a couple of TV shows where the hosts’ buy old items and use them as design elements around the home. Below are some old shabby chic doors repurposed into benches.

 

 

This one is very similar to Wood magazine’s cover photo.

I know all about the shabby chic style from wife Anita. She has a business called Bella Chic Decor where she finds old pieces of furniture and paints them with chalk paint to give them an old worn look. Sometimes she’ll ask me to repurpose an item she bought into something more useful. In fact, I wrote a blog about repurposing an old door into a headboard a few months ago.

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I don’t have any problem with shabby chic stuff even though it’s really not my cup of tea as it tends to be very femine. You may not be crazy about it either, but chances are your wife, sister, or daughter probably likes it. It’s all the rage these days and offers a cheap alternative from buying mass-produced laminated press board crap that you’ll find in retail stores. Often old antique furniture is solidly built, but just needs to be updated a little bit to fit with the modern decor of homes.

When my wife saw the cover of the magazine she asked, “why didn’t they just use an old door”? That’s a good question. The editors at Wood magazine estimated the cost of building the bench at $375. One could buy an old door on Craigslist for about $20.00, use poplar hardwood and birch plywood to build the sides, paint everything a neutral color, and end up spending about $100 for nearly the same look.

I can imagine the editors of Wood magazine sitting around in a meeting room asking each other if they should just use an old door and paint it. They probably realized that woodworkers love wood grain and consider painted furniture sacrilege. In fact in the first paragraph of the article, they mention that one could make this project using an old door from a salvage yard. It’s just a shame that they didn’t show a picture of a bench made from an old door to give the reader an idea of how it looks.