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.

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.

Cutting Board with a Breadboard Edge

Last weekend I had some Eastern White Pine scraps lying around after I finished building a display cabinet for my wife for her spring show which just got cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus. I hate to throw the scraps away or toss them into the fire pit so I decided to make a small cutting board with them.

I ripped two of the boards 3″ wide and glued up the pieces. The third piece I ripped to 1 1/2″ wide which would serve as the breadboard ends,

After the glue dried, I sized the board to 16 1/2″ long by 12″ wide. I set up my table saw blade at 1/4″ tall with the furthest part of the blade 3/4″ from the fence using my little Odd Jobs ruler.

I cut grooves on the top and bottom of each end to create a 1/4″ by 3/4″ tenon across the board. I then cleaned up the rough marks with a chisel and rabbet plane so I would have a nice smooth tenon on each side of the board.

Then I took the two 1 1/2″ wide boards and ran a 1/4″ groove 3/4″ high down the edges to give me a nice groove that would be snug with the tenons.

I marked where I wanted the pins to go through the tenon and drilled through the breadboard ends with a 1/4″ drill bit. Then I took the ends and marked with the drill bit where the pins would intersect the tenon. Being this cutting board is small and the sides of the breadboards fit nicely with the tenon, I didn’t bother draw boring the joint.

I then drilled the holes and elongated the holes at each end with a round rasp to allow for seasonal movement as the wood will expand and contrast with changes in humidity.

I applied a little glue only in the center of the tenon, clamped and drove 1/4″ walnut dowel pins through all six holes.

After the glue dried, I cut the pins flush and sanded the surface up to 220 grit sandpaper. Then I trimmed the breadboard ends flush to the sides of the cutting board and sanded the edges.

I applied a couple coats of my black shellac I made to give it an aged look. I think the board came out a little too green in color, but my wife Anita likes it. She said it makes it look old and worn. It turned out to be a quick and easy project on a Sunday afternoon.

Using a Stanley No 1 Plane

Last summer I had the opportunity to buy a Stanley No 1 plane at The Springfield Antique Extravaganza. The price the lady wanted was too good to pass up, so I went to the ATM a few times to get enough money out to buy the plane. I’ve wanted to own one of these planes for nearly thirty years so I was stoked to bring it home.

Everytime I see one of these little guys, they’re usually behind a glass case at an auctioneer’s table so holding one in my hand was a real treat. Stanley No 1 planes are often on the top of the bucket list for a lot of tool collectors. Unfortunately, their prices spiked over the past few decades so finding one at an affordable price is hard to do. I read stories from old time tool collectors that they could buy these planes at the flea market for $10-20 during the 1960’s and ’70’s. Today they command as much as $1000 or more. The odd thing is, is that Stanley never made these planes to be collectible. In fact, they were the most inexpensive bench plane they offered in their catalog. At $2.95, they were 32% cheaper than a Stanley No 3 plane which are still readily available at antique shows around the country. Never being able to use one, I often wondered what the purpose of these little guys were and how they were used.

When I got home I lightly cleaned the plane and sharpened the blade. When I flipped the plane over, I noticed that there were diagonal scratch marks on the bed. This told me that the original owner used the plane at an askew. I know when I use a plane at an askew, it’s either to prevent tear out on difficult grain or to clean up some blemishes on the wood. So I thought to myself that maybe these planes are used just to clean up little areas on the wood’s surface.

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Last weekend I had a chance to test my theory. While making a display cabinet for my wife, I was planing some eastern white pine with my Stanley No 4 plane when I was getting tear out around the large knots in the wood.

The tear out wasn’t terrible as the blade on my Stanley No 4 is sharp and the bed has been fettled flat, but the tear out was still there. I decided that I would try to get rid of the tear out by using my No 1 plane.

Sure enough, after a few strokes, I noticed that the plane was cleaning up the tear out quite nicely. So I thought to myself, this must be one of the purposes of the plane. But then I started thinking about why a small plane like this would do a better job at shaving the wood than a well tuned No 4 plane. The only thing I can really think of is the small footprint on the No 1 helps the user focus on a smaller area on the wood’s surface. Also the mouth on the No 1 is tighter with less of a gap than my No 4 that is set for general planing. Both my No 4 and No 1 are sharpened the same way with water stones up to 12000 grit so it’s not that one of the plane’s blade was sharper than the other.

With how well the plane cleaned up my tear out I’m thinking that these planes were used for cleaning up the work surface and other small tasks. Whether it would be tear out, scratch marks, small gouge marks or even taking labels off of boxes. Remember these were cheap planes that were made for daily use but never took off in the marketplace. Because there’s not very many of them available, supply-and-demand shot their prices to the moon.

I know that one of the most famous tool cabinets in the world, H. O. Studley’s tool cabinet has a Stanley No 1 plane in it. His plane is in the middle left of the left hand door. Studley was a piano maker so he probably used his plane when making and fitting piano keys. I also know that instrument makers use small planes in their work so that’s another group of people that could benefit from a Stanley No 1 plane.

All I know is that it’s a nice little plane to own. It’s not the most versatile plane you can have in your arsenal, but it’s nice to have it when you need it. So do I recommend using a Stanley No 1 plane? HELL NO! They’re too valuable! Buy a Lie-Nielsen No 1 for a couple hundred bucks and let a tool collector stick this thing on his shelf.

Repairing an Accent Table

My wife bought an accent table at a local thrift store yesterday. She hesitated on buying it because it needed some work but I assured her that I could fix it quickly.

When we got it home, I examined how to repair the stretcher and make the legs not so wobbly. It seems that someone else tried to repair the stretcher in the past with no luck.

After popping off the glue blocks, I noticed that the only joinery on the legs was a dowel rod and some glue. It’s no wonder why they wobbled. I’m not sure how old the table is but it’s made from mahogany and the fasteners are straight slotted screws. My guess would be around the 1940’s but that’s just a guess.

If I was to restore this table properly, I’d used mahogany for the stretcher and make it similar to the original but I’m by no means a professional furniture restorer. If anything, I’m closer to the craftsmen you see on Flea Market Flip where people buy a $40 wheel barrow at an antique show, turn it into a coffee table and sell it at a New York City art show for $450. Except, I don’t do that dramatic transformation on pieces and don’t get anywhere close to those prices. (Personally, I think that show is fake). My wife will eventually paint the table so I just grabbed some scrap wood.

I grabbed some red oak and planed it down to 3/8″ then drew some arches on it with my french curve. Then it was onto my band saw and spindle sander to cut and sand the stretcher to shape. I just whipped this shape up in my head without much thought. I think it’ll do fine.

To break the edges of the stretcher and give it curves, I used my specialty scraper with various radius’s cut out and scraped the edges to shape using the 1/2″ radius.

Cutting the piece to proper length took a little trial and error, but I eventually got it to seat in the mortises with the legs being perpendicular to the top when the table was flipped over.

Then I grabbed some scrap pieces and glued and pinned hefty glue blocks onto the legs to hold them to the top better.

Here’s the table all glued up waiting for paint. My wife will paint the table either white, or black, or green, or duck egg, or whatever. I’ll have to wait and see which one she picks. I’ll throw a picture up when she’s done. Merry Christmas!

UPDATE 1-20-20; Anita painted it white with a stencil on top.

Porter Cable Restorer- Customer Service Excellence

A few days ago, I was working on this farmhouse table flattening the underside of the top with my Porter Cable Restorer sander. I wrote a post about the sander a couple of years ago saying how nice of a tool it is to use. Granted, I don’t use the tool all that much as I don’t work with reclaimed wood too often, but it works well as a quick belt sander.

I was sanding the top down when I noticed some black streaks on the wood. I stopped and turned the tool over when I saw the sandpaper drum moved to the right eating into the housing flap.

I thought to myself that I must have the drum in backwards so I flipped the sandpaper drum around and kept going. Then I noticed the sandpaper was now eating into the body of the sander.

I thought to myself “what the hell??” I looked at the sander to see if there was any way to tighten the sandpaper to the drum as I do with my oscillating drum sander, but there was nothing to tighten.

I had no idea what I did wrong as I’ve used the tool in the past with no problems. I follow the guy who invented the Restorer on Instagram, Robert Kundel Jr, and sent him a picture of the tool and asked him what I did wrong. He wrote back to me apologizing that there was an issue with some of the sandpaper drums not being made to spec and he would send me a new unit. Sure enough a few days later, a new unit arrived at my doorstep.

These are drums that were not made to spec. I bought them on clearance at Lowe’s. They are now going into the garbage. Lowe’s is now starting to carry the Craftsman Restorer which is more likely the same as the Porter Cable as they are both owned by Stanley Black & Decker. I’ll buy the Craftsman sanding drums for now on.

You can see the difference between the two drums. The used one is about an 1/8″ wider in diameter causing it to move while being used.

I always read about great customer service from Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley on woodworking forums. Robert at Inventor of the Restorer needs to be on the list as well. He went far and beyond what was appropriate. I would have been happy with just a new sleeve of correct drums as the sander still works.

The Console Table Build

My honey-do list usually starts out the same. My wife will ask if I can make something for her and then asks how much it will cost in wood. I told her it would probably run around $60 so we headed to Home Depot and bought some white pine boards.

I bought a few 1″ x 10″ x 6′ to use for the legs. One 1″ x 10″ cut in half and ripped into 2 1/2″ wide segments would yield me two legs. After I laminated three of the boards, I sized them to 2 1/4″ square and then turned them on the lathe. I looked at the picture she gave me but I turned the leg from feel of what I thought it looked liked. When I was done, we both decided the bottom part of the leg looked too “boxy” so I decided to turn another leg.

The second leg turned out better than the first. When I threw a picture of both legs onto instagram, one of my followers said that he liked the bottom of the leg on right but liked the top of the leg on the left. I agreed so I refined the leg so the ball of the leg looked more like a ball and not a fat lazy bead.

After refining the leg, I made five more freehand. I’m by no means a master wood turner. In fact, my wood turning is passable at best. The only lesson I’ve ever taken on wood turning is watching The Woodwright’s Shop over the years. I take a ruler, a parting tool, and some calipers and try to make the sixth one to look like the first. In the end, I think the legs came out pretty good.

My wife wanted table to be fourteen inches wide by five feet long so I laid the legs on the top and decided the dimensions of each part of the frame.

After cutting out all the parts of the frame, I attached them to the legs with pocket hole joinery. This is a simple table made from construction grade material so I wasn’t in the mood to start cutting a bunch of mortises for mortise and tenon joinery. Sorry.

I sized and glued the bottom shelf to the lower frame. Ideally this would be best suited for plywood due to the expansion and contraction of the wood however, after studying the original picture, this is how the table my wife wanted was built so I went ahead and made it the same way. Eventually there will be a nice crack in the middle of the shelf, but that will just add to the farmhouse look.

I made the drawers as simple as possible as well. I planed down some of the pine to 1/2″ thick and made the sides with rabbeted joinery and a 1/4″ plywood bottom. I then simply glued and nailed a drawer front to the box.

In the end, this is how the table came out. Not bad for a weekend build. My wife will finish the table with some sort of weathered look stain. I’m happy with it and it’s one less thing off of my honey-do list.

Here’s the table completed with a stain Anita put on. It’s for sale at a design show. It originally wasn’t meant to be for sale, but we had such a good show, we needed more inventory to sell.