Monthly Archives: August 2015

…”WE INTERRUPT THIS MANIFESTO”……..

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As I work on finishing a draft of the first installment of the MADCAP MANIFESTO, I have gotten in the habit of switching over to Craigslist or whatever to peruse tools that I need, might need, want, would like to have, don’t need, but will eventually buy etc.  Work on the first installment of the manifesto has proven to be an exercise in writer’s block, as I have a great deal to say, but am struggling to sort it all out in an intelligent manner.

Anyone who has been following this blog knows what a hopeless woodworking tool … ahem …enthusiast I am. I use that statement as a qualifier because what follows is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me Rockwell Delta.

I stumbled on a post on Craigslist that was simple enough. “Woodworking tools” . These posts normally contain various bits and scraps of cheap throw away hobbyist tools. Sometimes though, they can contain pure gold…..

It seems that a man in a town about 30 miles from me lost his father, an engineer by trade and life long amateur woodworker, to the ravages of time and old age. (Rest in peace). The son and his brothers had all grown and established their own tool collections, so what the Dad had left behind was to be sold.

A couple of really choice machines were for sale at reasonable prices. A Grizzley 15″ planer, a 1955 Craftsman (built by the Atlas Tool Works) 17′ bandsaw, and…..drum roll please…..a 1948 Delta Unisaw..

The son mentioned that his post had been on Craigslist for the better part of 6 weeks with virtually zero interest. In fact, I was only the second person to contact him about any of the tools.

It was the Unisaw I was interested in. For the uninitiated, the Delta Unisaw, especially the pre and immediately post war vintages, are the undisputed Rolls Royce of table saws. They are built with old world attention to detail. Castings were poured into molds, then removed after cooling and buried in sand for two years prior to being milled flat for assembly and sale. This practice ensured that any movement that the table castings or arbor castings would suffer from (twist, warp, cupping, bowing) would occur prior to final milling and finishing and remain true for their life thereafter. Motors were heavy and powerful. They develop an enormous amount of torque despite their anemic horsepower ratings. Better in EVERY WAY than anything built today short of a saw from Germany or Switzerland.

So it was that I entered into half hearted negotiations with this man. Surely he would want to stick to his asking price of nearly $500. Besides, LOML, would never cotton to my bringing home another  dusty old relic that would duplicate what was already in the Tiny Shop.

In talking with the son, he discussed how weary he was of waiting to move this piece of iron. He said he is just looking for the right person to come along, someone who knew what a gem this machine was. Someone who would use it, not just resell it or *GASP* part it out. It was his intention at this point, he said, to let the saw go for the first reasonable offer to such a person. I was beside myself.

The FIRST thing I needed to do was delicately explain to my sainted wife, WHY I needed…not wanted….neeeeeded, this saw. She must have seen the desperation in my eyes since she made a deal with me. If I could sell the General now installed in the tiny Shop, I could have the Unisaw. No disposable income was available for a purchase like this, and whatever funds I could get for my General, were all we had for an offer on the Unisaw.

GAME ON!!!!

In 24 hours, I had the general sold for $50 more than I had paid for it originally, and was locked in to a price with the Unisaw seller that allowed me to remain on speaking terms with my beloved wife.

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Above is a picture taken moments after the arrival of the “table saw de tuti table saw”. 430 pounds of purring smooooooothness. This is prior to any clean up, I have only gotten the extension wings re-attached and the motor rewired by the time I snapped this picture.

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Lovely clean and dead flat top.

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Behold! An all original Delta miter guage

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The Bullet. 90-some pounds of torque, ummph, and coniferous carnage. Just not made like this any more.

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Can I get an…..AMEN!!!!

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Just a little art deco to bring some class and panache into the Tiny Shop.

Ok, I should go now. I have honey-do’s to do, and also need to chip away at the first installment of The Madcap Manifesto. Stay tuned for that!!!!!

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A Madcap Manifesto.(Preface-Introduction)

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Alright, don’t let the title startle you. I have not taken leave of my senses and started hoarding survivalist supplies. Nor am I writing this hold up in a cabin in Montana.

What I am developing here and in the posts to come, are simply a collection of thoughts, ideas, and observations that relate not just to woodworking, but also to a few other sociologically interesting issues that often interface with woodworking as well.

As I begin to try to string together my thoughts and plan out what I want to say here, I find the process a little bit akin to tugging at that stray string on your sweater. I keep discovering little bunny trails that coincide with original subject thoughts. I keep unravelling more and more that ties in directly with modern woodworking, especially at the professional level.

Interesting and a little frustrating at the same time.

A little while ago I found myself at an interesting confluence. I had been reading several blog posts by Paul Sellers that discussed the historical importance of the traditional apprentice – journeyman model from years past, contrasted with their current state of near extinction.

At the same time I had the fairly rare opportunity to talk with my youngest son about college, the future, and most satisfyingly, life and happiness and what they really look like. Heady things to discuss indeed.

All of this lead me to this place. I wanted to spend a little time documenting my thoughts and observations.

It sounds easy at first. At least  I thought it did. However, the more I tried to sketch out a blog post in my mind, the more I had to say. The more I had to say, the larger the catalog of subjects to talk about became.

Ultimately, I settled on the idea of a series of posts that touched on some of these subjects. While this post is going to be the Preface and introduction to what is to come, I suspect that there may never, truly, be an end. I know myself well enough to know that as the blog develops, there will undoubtedly be times that I feel the need to amend or supplement, or reverse position on what will initially be the Madcap Manifesto.

Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that I may be touching on more esoteric aspects of woodworking, craft, and craftsmanship ….  This is it.

To be fair though, the discussion of just those subjects, I’m discovering, require exploration of the more sociologically based topics as I mentioned above.

Happiness, satisfaction, education, career, worth, self worth, stress, fairness, equality, inequality, social change, sustainability, ecological responsibility, are all topics that have influence on modern woodworking as a profession.

They, and many similar topics, all have (or should have) relevance to the modern professional or serious amateur.

Finally, I invite comment on anything written here. Please be aware that my posts may end up with a hint of “ramble” as I sometimes struggle to get multiple thoughts down in a coherent and thoughtful manner. Not because I have not given them thought, no, quite the contrary, I sometimes feel I have thought about them too much. (Usually during long sessions of sanding projects, or sometimes after having read something somewhere, or even just wondering what my kids futures will look like.)

Just know that I will endeavor to keep things simple, and hopefully both thought provoking and entertaining at the same time.

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I Can Finally Call It A “BENCH”!

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So, does anyone notice anything……different in this picture?  It’s subtle, I know. That is, if the word subtle can be used in a sentence under a picture of this epically overbuilt workbench.

Today, the Fed Ex driver delivered a 45 pound box to my very doorstep. “Oh my”, I exclaimed. “Whatever in the world could THIS be”?

Much to my delight, enclosed in the battered and broken box, was a vintage Craftsman/Columbian 10 inch, quick release vise.

OH JOY OF JOYS!

OH DREAM OF DREAMS!

As many of you already know, one of the bits of minutia that I have been fretting over was what vise(s) to put on this workbench of mine, to finish it off and make it truly usable.
I had been considering the classic, “old school” front and end vises that you would normally see on a Scandinavian/Continental bench, but I had mounted these on my first bench and found them to be “rack-master-5000’s”. That is to say, they would rack and bind in their mountings and cause much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Then the focus turned to the Record line of all steel vises made in Sheffield, England. These are wonderful, pass on to your great, great grandchildren vises. Since anything that resembles the old Record company and/or their fine metalwork has been long gone for nearly ten years now, it is pretty much EBAY or dumb luck as far as getting your hands on one of these. Even if a suitable example can be found, the cost would lead one to think that they are forged from solid gold ingots….wholly unsatisfactory.

There are high quality clones from out friends in the far east as well as from the former Czech Republic. Reasonably priced, and more than adequate for the job.

Then I finally caved in and, in a state of desperation, began scouring Ebay for something old, something heavy, something made from steel that was mined from these here United States.

While going through my normal “find something promising, google it, learn all I can about it” fits, I found a brand that seemed to be in fairly good supply. Columbian Vise Co.

Columbian vises are regarded as the American version of the Record vises. They are hugely overbuilt, made from very high quality MURRICAN (American) steel, and have been around since the late 30’s to about the late 70’s. Examples of their 10 inch vise were selling quickly on “The Bay” The game changing reason I became interested in this option, was the fact that these vises were manufactured in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio.

As I did my due diligence dance, I discovered that Columbian also rebranded their flagship vise for Sears Roebuck. Virtually identical to Columbian’s top of the line woodworking vise in every way….except for peoples interest in one on Ebay. Surely there had to be some reason these were not being snapped up by vintage tool enthusiasts…right? There had to be some sort of catastrophic defect in them to drive people away from buying them.

Researching further, I asked this question on several woodworking forums. It is in the pages of these forums that I normally can find answers and confirmation of those answers, just by using the search function. This time though, I needed to be specific, so I posted my question and got next to no responses. Except for one guy who used to work for Sears. He told me that, yes these were indeed nearly identical to the Columbian flagship vise, and that the only differences were in the casting of the Craftsman brand name in the face, and a little extra metal added to the chop faces. Otherwise, exactly the same.

I confirmed this with another fellow on a separate forum who has one of each. No real difference in the vises. All parts are totally interchangeable.

After finding this out, I was bent on obtaining either a Columbian or Craftsman 10 inch, quick release vise, and I was not going to pay anything remotely close to retail for it….

In just a few short hours, and one or two aborted attempts to negotiate the securement of several sub-par vises, I stumbled on a vintage (c.1964) Craftsman/Columbian. The seller stated they really didnt know much about it other than it had been in storage a very long time. I circumvented the normal bidding process and contacted the seller directly with an embarrassingly low offer…..i’m talking really, really low.

The response left me dumbfounded. The said that my offer would be fine since they had had the thing listed for some time with no bites. They needed the boat anchor gone.

So this is all well and good since the condition appeared in the pictures to be better than any of the other examples I had seen.

Here is where it gets interesting……

When I opened the box this morning, there was inside, ….. another box! THE original box. Not only that, but upon inspection of the vise, I discovered that the darned thing had NEVER BEEN MOUNTED. It was brand new, in the box, with the original paperwork.

Hows that for thrifty?

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There she is folks….a BRAND NEW COLUMBIAN/CRAFTSMAN 10 inch, quick release woodworkers bench vise, mounted in it’s new habitat, ready to finally be used as intended.

EDIT:
Below is a picture I added for reference. It is a picture of the Columbian version of my new vise but in RESTORED CONDITION.

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Anyhow, now I can finally say I built a functioning WORKBENCH!

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HAT TIP

Here is a quick “Hat Tip” to The Woodworking Junkie (not a real junkie)

I took some time and checked out his YouTube videos as well as his blog here on WordPress, was definitely worth the time.

It’s great to see enthusiastic woodworkers sharing their experiences with others. Especially if those others are beginners.

Check him out here:

https://shecky113114.wordpress.com/

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