I Did It! Quercus Magazine

Well, I finally wrote an article for a woodworking magazine. It’s called Quercus and it’s based in the UK. I was asked by the editor Nick Gibbs through Instagram if I would be interested in writing an article about how and why I restore old planes. I jumped at the chance as writing for a woodworking magazine has always been a dream of mine.

I restored an old Stanley No 5 plane and documented my progress, then wrote out my article the same way as I write a blog, then sent him the file along with the pictures. It took a few months for the article to get published but, I’m in the magazine along with Paul Sellers.

When I received my copy, I was amazed by the content that was in it. The magazine features woodworkers from all around the world and their process of how and why they work with wood. There’s not too many “How To” articles and the magazine primarily focuses on hand tool woodworking so, don’t expect an article about “Building the Perfect Router Table” in it. The only other magazine that I would compare to it would be Mortise and Tenon magazine.

This is the plane that I restored for the article. I was planning on selling it, but now it carries sentimental value to me. I asked Nick if he would like for me to do another article but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. This may be a one-off, but maybe not. Maybe I could be a constant contributor to the magazine. Wish me luck.

Wooden Router Plane

Several months ago, I bought an old wooden router at an antique store for $20. The price tag said it was a Japanese woodworking tool. I guess it could be if a Japanese guy used it. Looked like a home made wooden router plane to me. I bought the tool simply for the hardware, and the Stanley router bit it that came with it.

I search online and came up with a wooden router plan and printed it out. Then I measured, drew, and bore the three holes for the body on a piece of 2″ thick cherry.

A few minutes on the band saw I had the new body of the router.

The hardest part in making the body was cutting the mortise for the blade holder. I jabbed at the wood with chisels, knives and drill bits in order for the piece to fit. I ended up getting the piece in the hole and then tightening in the back in order to crush the wood fibers into shape. It took a few attemps, but after a few minutes, it finally fit.

Once the hardware was in, I stuck the blade back in to see how the final fit. Once I was satisfied, I sanded the body and applied a few coats of shellac to it.

The last thing I needed to do was sharpen the blade. The easiest way I have found to sharpen a router plane blade is to grind a bevel on an oscillating spindle sander making sure to take a light touch in order to prevent burning the edge of the cutter. Then, I hone the edge and flatten the back with a whetstone.

I stuck the blade back into the router to see how it cuts. Cuts like butter!

If you’re in the market for a router plane, take a look at the wooden versions. They are much cheaper than their metal counterparts as some of their prices fetch up to $150. I see wooden router planes all the time at antique shows for around $40. They work pretty much the same way, they just don’t have the adjustment mechanism to raise and lower the blade. With a little practice, you can easily tap the blade down with a hammer to lower the blade for the next cut.

Herb Drying Rack

Last Saturday, Anita and I, were antiquing up in Northen Ohio around the Medina area. We stumbled into an antique store Seville, OH where Anita saw this old herb drying rack. The price was $89 but the lady said she would take $75 for it. Anita looked at it for a few minutes trying decide whether or not to buy it and if she did, where she would put it.

The rack looked old, but whether or not it was antique, who knows? It could have been made 20 years ago and just left outside to weather. While Anita debated on buying the rack, she asked me if I could make one. I told her it would super easy to do so she left it there and didn’t buy it.

The next day, I ripped 1/4″ strips off an old pine shelf we had in the garage. I decided the spacing should be 1 1/4″ so I cut blocks by using a sled on my table saw and laid out the spacing to see how it looked.

Anita came downstairs and told me she wanted rectangular spacing so she two two blocks and put them together. We both liked the new design, so I started pinning the strips together with 23 gauge pins. After we decided the overall dimensions the rack should be, I built a 1″ thick frame with the rest of the pine board. I used 18 gauge brads to attach the grid to the frame. The overall size was about 22″ wide x 47″ long.

In a few hours, the drying rack was built and hung up in our kitchen between the back door and the basement door. I posted a picture on Instagram and one of my followers said that the rack would work great for drying his weed. Maybe I should make more and sell them to a niche market. ??? Nevertheless, now Anita has a place to dry her herbs (whatever you do with dried herbs).

New Life for a Display Piece

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about building this huge display cabinet for my wife. She wanted it to use as a backdrop for doing shows. Being 7′ long, it was long enough to stick in the back of a 10′ x 10′ booth with a little room on the sides.

She was hoping to use it for a show in the spring, then Covid hit and the show was cancelled. We waited for everything to go back to normal, but the further things went, Anita decided not to do the show anymore. In the end, we never ended up even using the piece.

It sat in our garage over the months so Anita decided to get rid of it and told me to post it on Facebook Marketplace for dirt cheap. One of Anita’s customers saw the post and came by the next day to buy it. She owns a specialty shop and was planning on painting the piece gray and using it in her store.

Anita stopped by her shop this morning and saw the piece painted. It looks amazing in her store. At least someone got use out of it.

I’m thinking now that I should make these display pieces and put a big price tag on it instead of the garage sale price this lady got. What do you think?

Ash Display Cabinet

The ash display cabinet I’ve been building for Anita is finally done. Took longer than I wanted but, working full time, restoring and selling antique tools, and doing honey-do lists around the house has eaten up all of my time. Anita will eventually put handles on the doors once she figures out which ones she wants, but for the most part, it’s done.

The cabinet is 48″ x 66″ x 16″ and is the first piece of furniture I made without using a single piece of plywood. I would have at least liked to have made the shelves out of 3/4″ plywood but my lumber supplier doesn’t carry it. The piece is extremely heavy and cost me about $500 to build. But, it’s still way cheaper than the $1600 price tag that was on the one at Pottery Barn. Plus, this is made from American hardwood and not some junky looking Chinese lumber.

To help speed up the build, I went out and bought a Festool Domino. I waited ten years to buy one until the day I could afford it, but that day never came. So, I bit the bullet and bought the tool as well as the Domino kit with the extra drill bits. So far, I love the tool. I was told by the sales rep at the store that you set the tool on the first setting one one side of the board, then switch to the second setting for the other side of the board. The wider slot gives you a little bit of play when aligning the boards similar to using a biscuit joiner.

I used the machine for the case as well as the joinery on the glass doors and it performed wonderfully. The Domino is one of those tools you wished you would have bought sooner.

The other thing I did differently on the piece versus others I have built was to put feet on the cabinet. In years past, when I built something, the sides of the case would be the feet of piece of furniture but, after studying antiques over the years, I noticed that the well built pieces would have feet glued to the bottom. This helps protect the sides by lifting them off the floor by a 1/16″. Having square feet also makes sticking furniture pads on the bottom a lot easier.

I already wrote about the wooden shelf supports a few weeks ago here. They work exceptionally well and can hold a massive amount of ironstone. I can’t even imagine all that weight on little brass pins.

Anita loves the cabinet, I love the cabinet, her friends love the cabinet, people on Instagram love the cabinet. It’s been a big hit and the money I saved building it, paid for my Festool Domino.. (see what I did there?)

Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves

I normally don’t do product reviews. The reason is because often when someone writes one, they seek affirmation that they made the right decision with what they just bought. This is especially true with tool reviews. How many times do people buy a new tool, take it out of the box, use it, and then blog about how much of a piece of shit it is? Very rarely. It’s one of the reasons I don’t put much weight on reading tool reviews in woodworking magazines. The other reason I don’t write tool reviews is that often I don’t have anything to compare the new tool to. When I bought a new random orbital sander, my old sander was twenty years old and obsolete. I can’t compare my new one to the old. That wouldn’t make any sense. Also, when I bought my random orbital sander, I didn’t try out any of other sanders on the market to see how they stacked up to mine so, I just use it and move on with life.

This time it’s a little different. I found these heavy-duty nitrile industrial gloves at Lowe’s a few weeks ago and was intrigued. For awhile, I was looking for something to replace my old exam gloves that would constantly tear while I was working. I tried using industrial latex gloves, but didn’t like how I couldn’t “feel” what I was doing so, I went back to the old stand by. When I saw these at Lowe’s, I opened a box, took a glove out and tried it on. Then I pulled on the glove while it was on my hand trying to rip it. It was a tough glove so, I bought the box hoping for the best.

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These are the nitrile exam gloves I used for years. For the price I couldn’t complain. Two boxes of 100 ran about $15.00. The problem is that I would go through three to four pairs when I spent the day sharpening. Worse yet, when they did tear, they often tore at the thumb turning my thumb black from the sharpening slurry completely defeating the purpose of wearing gloves in the first place.

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Typical dirty thumb even after I washed my hand from sharpening slurry. If you sharpen without gloves or do any type of metal working, you’ve experienced this as well.

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When I sharpen, I use my water-cooled sharpener along with 1000, 5000, and 12,000 grit water stones so, my hands are constantly getting wet.

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These are some of the planes I sharpened within an afternoon. It took about two to three hours to do all of them wearing my new tough gloves.

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After a dozen plane blades sharpened, the gloves took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. No rips or tears and best yet, clean hands! If your Lowe’s doesn’t stock them, you can find them on Amazon.

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Restoring a Beading Plane

Beading planes are some of the most common molding planes you’ll run across while hunting for old tools at antique shows. I found this 3/16″ beading plane in Augusta, GA for just $14.00. Some people feel that it isn’t worth the time and effort to tune up old molding planes like this however, with a few simple steps, you can easily bring these guys back to life.

An important thing about buying an old molding plane that you want to use is to buy one that is in good shape. You need to make sure that the plane’s body is straight and the boxwood is in good shape (if there is any). If the body is curved or the boxwood is missing, then it’s best not to even bother with it as it will be too much work than it’s worth.

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When you decide that the plane is worth restoring, the first step is to clean off the dirt. With a little elbow grease and some steel wool, you can clean the body of the plane in no time flat. It took me about ten minutes to get rid of all the dirt and grime.

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After everything is clean, I coat the plane body with my homemade oil and beeswax. Now, if all I wanted to do is display this on my shelf and collect dust I’d be done, but I want to put this baby back to work so, I need to work on the blade.

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To start cleaning the blade, I soak it in a solution of water and a little bit of citric acid. After an hour, I took the blade out and scrubbed off all the rust with a fine sanding sponge.

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Once the rust is removed, I sharpen the blade by honing the back over a series of sand paper and water stones. I started with 400 grit sand paper then move to 1000 grit, to 4000 to 12000 grit water stones. Only takes a few minutes to go through the process.

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After the back is honed, I sharpen the bevel angle and the profile of the cutter with 800 grit sand paper. Chances are, the profile of the iron is still in good shape when compared to the profile of the bed of the molding plane. If the profile of the blade is out of whack with the plane bed, then you’ll have to re-grind the shape of the iron to match the bed which is a taunting task, but I doubt you’ll have to do that if you took the time to examine the plane well before you bought it.

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With the blade sharp and back in the plane, I tap the iron down until enough of the edge is popping out of the bed to make a nice cut.

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With a little effort, you’ll have a nice plane that’s a joy to use and much easier to make a bead on a piece of wood that using a router.

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A Once in a Lifetime Deal

Every few years I get a deal of a lifetime when buying tools. Many years ago, I bought my 15″ Powermatic planer from a company going out of business for $700. I bought my Contractor SawStop table saw from SawStop corporate through Pop Wood for $1000, and yesterday, I bought a six piece Porter Cable combo kit for $25.00.

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As you may know, I’m a sales rep for Oldcastle selling patio block, mulch and soon composite decking to Lowe’s and Home Depot. While visiting one of my stores yesterday, I walked in the back of the store by receiving to talk to the RTM clerk to see if there were any credits I needed to give for broken patio block. While back there, I saw a Porter Cable tool bag full of tools lying on the floor and asked the RTM clerk what they were doing there. She told me that it was a return that the customer said the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge. Knowing that Lowe’s will take back anything no questions asked, the first thing that came to my mind was a customer buying a tool, using it to do a job, then returning it to get his money back.

She told me she had to get rid of it somehow and asked if I wanted to buy it, so I said “sure”. She asked what I would give for them so I told her $20.00. She then told me she would have to call the manager to see if that would be okay. I told her before I buy them, I wanted to make sure that my current batteries from my Porter Cable set would work on the tools. I’ve been using the same drill and jigsaw from the same set for a few years now, so I was hopeful my batteries would be compatible. I went to my car to grab my tool bag while she called the manager to make the deal happen. When I returned, she said “what about $25.00”. I said fine and hooked up my battery to the all the tools to make sure they all functioned. I took the bag of tools and walked up to customer service to buy them. I couldn’t believe it. I just bought a $300 combo set for $25.00. I didn’t care that the tools were a little beaten up and used. Almost all of my hand tools I buy are used. Many from a hundred years ago.

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When I got home, I laid the tools on my bench to see what I got. A drill, an impact drill, a sawsall, circular saw, multi tool, flashlight, and a battery power checker with USB ports. I took the battery it came with and charged it up. It works perfectly.

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Why the customer returned the tools is anybody’s guess. There is only one battery for the set, so it may be the guy wanted a free battery so he simply didn’t put the extra one back in the bag when he returned it. I don’t care. I’m just glad as hell I got the deal of the year. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Jet Oscillating Edge Sander

A couple of weeks ago, my local tool supply company I’ve been buying my power tools for the past twenty-five years, Edward B Mueller Co, was having a spring tool sale. I looked through the email and saw that they were offering the Jet oscillating edge sander for $1019.00, which matched Amazon’s price, but they were also offering $95.00 in free accessories. I’ve wanted one of these machines for a while, but was unsure how useful they were since I’ve never tried one myself. I went over to Woodnet.net and asked the guys over there what their thoughts were on them. Everyone who owned one came back that they loved theirs and they use it on nearly every project they work on. So, I decided to bite the bullet and bring one home to my shop. Along with the sander I also got a mobile base and an extra sanding belt with my $95.00 in free accessories.

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After dragging the sander out of my car, I had to slide it down the basement steps. But before I did that, I took a lot of the parts out of the box to lighten the load. I built the cabinet first and slipped my mobile base underneath before I tried to stick the main unit on it.

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Thankfully, I have a strong wife as we were able to lift it up on the cabinet after I took off the cast iron table.

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After about an hour to put everything together, the sander was up and running. I hooked up my dust collector to it and turned the beast on to see how it worked. The sander is awesome and the oscillating function works well.

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While reading the reviews for the machine on Amazon, one of the biggest complaints people had with it was the fact that the cast iron table was too heavy to  move on your own. So, I went to the flea market this weekend and bought an old car jack for $5.00. I slid the jack under the table, loosen the knobs, jacked it up a little bit, then tighten back the knobs. Works great! Plus the jack is small enough to fit inside the cabinet.

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Yesterday I was building a coffee console table for my wife that had “X” cross braces on each side of the table. I scribed the angle on the crossbar, cut it off heavy on the band saw, and then cleaned up the piece on my edge sander.

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It works perfectly and leaves a super clean finish. All I can say is that I love this tool! I can easily see using it on nearly everything I make. For years, I used to chuck up a 12″ disc to my lathe and stick a sand paper disc onto it to turn it into a disc sander. I used it so much that I used my lathe as a sander more than I did for turning. I’m happy to say that lathe is going back to being a lathe.

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Roubo Style Workbench

Walking around an antique store called Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Cincinnati this weekend, I ran upon this massive beast in one of the aisles. An eight foot long authentic Roubo style workbench. I’ve seen dozens of old workbenches before, but for some reason this guy stuck out to me. The previous owner screwed nickel-plated hooks on the front of it for someone reason. Probably to hold coffee cups or some other nonsense.

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What made this bench stick out was the splay of the front leg along with the leg vise. I imagine this was done to prevent the workbench from racking when sawing. The cast iron vise hardware turned smooth and could still tighten with something with a good grip.

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It had an old planning stop hole used for planning boards. Oddly the area around the hole was all worn down. When I see wear marks on old pieces like this, it makes me wonder what type of work the craftsman did to make those types of marks. Though it does appear he was sawing on the right side of the planning stop.

Another interesting clue is that it is quite possible that at one point there was another vise installed on top. The three holes around the lighter circular area is possibly where he bolted down a machinist vise onto the bench.

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The legs were jointed together with a simple bridle joint however, the legs were not jointed into the bench’s top. More likely the top was just bolted down to the legs somehow. I didn’t feel like moving everything around in the booth to get a better look.

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The bench top was a good 12″ wide x 4″ thick piece of pine. It had a tool tray in the back that appeared to be in real good shape given it’s age. Notice how there are no bench dog nor holdfast holes in the top.

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Who knows where this bench will end up. Probably in someone’s home as a kitchen island, but for a cool $700 it can be all yours.

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