Category Archives: craftsmanship

OLD ‘ARN……IS THE BEST ‘ARN

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Hello, I’m The Madcap Woodwright, and I am an old ‘Arn – aholic.

Yet another year has passed and I am two days into my…..ahem….46th year here on this planet. As a gift to me for this auspicious occasion, the love of my life gave me the green light to drop a little coin on a birthday gift.

The Delta 768 10″ band saw was made between 1937 and 1943….I think….which makes this one of the more rare and very desirable machines in the vintage Delta line up.

Rare, because it was only made for those 5 or 6 years. Desirable because it is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same machine as it’s larger brother the vaunted 14″ delta band saw, but with smaller wheels top and bottom.

O.K. maybe not the exact same. But all the major components are interchangeable with the larger machine and it is bristling with all the heavy, thick cast iron that the larger capacity machine has, and then some.

Since the Delta 14″ band saw is ubiquitous, this means that most if not all of the parts that may fail on this little treasure, are easily replaceable. Nearly unheard of with a machine this old.

Add to it’s rarity and desirability that is is nice and compact which makes it a natural fit for The Tiny Shop.

Do not let it’s diminutive stature deceive you though, this machine is built … well … to last a lifetime or two. It’s just a beast for something so small in overall dimension.

I brought her home, gave her a bath, assembled her and plugged her in. As the saw ran, I began tweaking some adjustments here and there to take out some play in the blade and to see what I was dealing with as far as any needed rehab. As the machine scraped and squealed I was fearing that a total and complete strip and restoration was going to have to be done.

Imagine my joy when, the more she ran, the more smooth and quiet she became. Those old “sealed and lubricated for life” bearings were providing testimony to the craftsmanship and care with which these old tools were built before the advent of disposable tooling.

I let the saw run unloaded for a while and let her settle into a very smooth and content hum. Knowing that the blade that came with this was destined for replacement anyway, I went ahead and attempted a trial cut to see if the motor was going to have enough “umpfh” behind it, or if I were going to have to replace it. As it turns out, the thing made perfectly serviceable cuts, although at a diminished feed rate, in spite of the horribly dull condition of the blade.

Mind you, this is with the saw exactly as I got it. Un-tuned, all parts just as they came on it, and with a blade that could not cut warm butter on an August afternoon in the sun. This, not 20 minutes after having assembled the thing, rust, grunge and all.

Impressive.

Plans call for new wheel tires, thrust bearings, and some new fangled blades. A nominal outlay of dosh over and above the fire sale price that the love of my life and I paid for this.

After seeing that I was in pretty good shape here, I have decided to defer any hardcore restoration of this tool. (Disassembly, painting, parts replacement/upgrade)

The patina on her matches well with the Unisaw and the Jointer, and I can see no reason to get crazy with it’s rehab. Just whatever it takes to make it as accurate and useful as all the other tooling that I am finding a way to stuff into The tiny Shop.

Now, where should I put a lathe?

 

LET THE MADCAP-ERY……BEGIN!!!!

As promised, here is a link to the first “Official” published work by The Madcap Woodwright.

blog.woodworkingtooltips.com/2017/01/roubo-bench-build-twist/


There are actually two other bits published in Highland Woodworking’s blog.(Part one of the Roubo build being one of them. It is linked in the intro to this piece. Don’t miss it)

 I am actually enjoying two bylines via these brave souls.

 I have a spot in their blog, as well as a column in their online magazine WoodworkingToolTips.com.

 I wish to extend my profound gratitude to them for providing me with a literary outlet for my musings, as well as all the editorial mentoring and encouragement a budding writer could ever ask for.

Thanks especially go out to Kelley Bagby for rolling the dice on an untested voice.

Enjoy!

“He Who Hesitates……”

……procrastinates indefinitely.

 

It’s not that I am lazy, It’s more a case of having a lot of ideas and not knowing how to put order to them.

Since the first of the year I have been off to a good start with my level of productivity. I have discovered that I am quite adept at disgorging myself of various literary ideas now that I have cajoled an actual periodical to publish some of my ramblings. No shortage of copy for Highland Woodworking’s online magazine of blog.

Nor have I been lacking in the work to do in The Tiny Shop. Since the phonograph refinish, I have had a string of small furniture repairs and/or refinishes. Throw in another workbench build, and you are up to date with my current state of workshop projects.

Aside from a few model train display cases and the long promised step stool for my dear wife, I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Now what?

Well, that is where things are getting a little sticky. I really need to get some furniture built as prototypes and proof of concepts. I have been wanting to get some things built not only as a means of developing some design ideas, my take on some more traditional styles, but also as fodder for my photographer son to take some beauty shots of for a hypothetical website for The Tiny Shop.

Since I have yet to actually put pencil to paper in many months, I am relegated to my minds eye for developing ideas. This poses a bit of a problem, you see I tend to bounce from idea to idea and end up with a collection of fractured ideas bouncing around in my melon.

Best to choose one, and get on with it.

My intention is to build one of three ideas I have right now. The first is the glove table I had mentioned in a previous post. Next idea would be a blanket chest for my dear wife.

Last, and most fear inducing is the design and construction of a wall unit for our basement family room. Our house is on the verge of being too large for us, but with my 18 year old son having moved in with us this summer, the wall unit may be a good way of making the largely unused family room a little more warm and inviting for him during his stay with us, and an investment in our future use of the space once he moves on to his inevitable world domination tour sometime in the future.

Decisions, decisions.

yinyang

 

Winter Workshop Wonderful…Or…Up Off My Lazy Ass.

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Santa has the right idea. A large workshop, warmed by a large hearth, wood floors (NOT laminate or “engineered”wood), plenty of projects and 364 days to crank out finely crafted goods. Paradise.

Now that the cold is descending on Colorado, The Tiny Shop is cranking up the heat and working seamlessly. I have a small commission…well…a favor is more like it. I am building a small trestle chef’s cart for a good friend. After that, I have a small gift for the love of my life in the works, and a little rehab on a cutting board for my folks.

After that, I need to plan out the build of the Roubo, and I REALLY need to get to work making some prototype pieces to flesh out some ideas that have been rattling around in my melon.

This is where it pays to be mindful. If taken all together, and stacked up one on top of the other, the projects can begin to take on the feel of drudgery. They can cause anxiety and can plant the seeds of doubt and dissatisfaction with the art form that I love so deeply.

On the other hand, if I choose to prioritize and approach each project individually, that holds the promise of a winter full of mindful woodworking opportunities.

The trick is to get started.

Once the actual planning and sketching, and revising is taken care of, there needs to be an actual application of effort. One foot in front of the other, one process initiated and enjoyed for its own sake, at a time.

Each time I start a new project, there seems to be a latency period. A time of apprehension that stalls the project before it even gets started.

I had this pointed out to me by the love of my life recently. It seems that she sees in me a struggle to overcome a slight period of fearfulness that inhibits my forward progress.

I at first resisted this assertion. Surely she could see that there were many pieces to the puzzle that needed to be arranged through divine intervention before I would be able to motivate myself off top dead center. Surely she could see that there were tools to buy, wood to dry, and stars to align before I could actually put edged tool steel to wood.

No, not at all.

Basically I was being called out on a small hypocrisy that I allow myself to indulge in. Here in this blog , and in my ongoing book manuscript writing, I preach the gospel of fearlessness in all things, and especially in working wood. Yet, I procrastinate in the beginning of every project due to some niggling little fear or feeling of inadequacy that inhibits me.

Historically, my modus operandi is to allow the project to go un-started until I am locked into a time crunch or deadline issue. Then it is Katy bar the door, and damn the torpedos….full steam ahead!!!!

Not very mindful or fearless I must confess. Nor is it very conducive to a full enjoyment of my Tiny Shop and all that it stands for. The work is still first-rate, and my clients have been satisfied to be sure. However, I am left with the realization that I really must, if I am to see the evolution of Madcap Woodworking continue, begin to focus my attention to the more focused application of the advise that I so freely dole out here on these pages and elsewhere.

The really annoying part of the whole thing is not that my wife sees this in me and feels so free to call me on it, it’s that it is exactly the type of fear that I think should be eliminated completely. It is that same feeling of not being good enough or accomplished enough, or refined enough, that is such a killer of the joy that should abound in The Tiny Shop.

To be sure, these fears are fleeting and short-lived. They evaporate as soon as the saw dust and plane shavings begin their decent to my shop floor.  It is just that initial time of delay and avoidance that is the crux of the matter.

As I explore the reality of mindful woodworking, I realize that I may have jumped too far ahead in the process. I think it important to stop now, and take a moment to examine this issue I seem to have with the initiation of a project. Perhaps once this particular burr has been removed from under my saddle, I will have a new realization of mindfulness to prattle on and on about…..interesting, very interesting.

EDIT TO SAY:

This burr removal is NOT in any way, going to stop or even slow me down in the progress of starting these new (and not so new) projects that I have slated for the near future. I just mention this because I could very easily use this opportunity for introspection and flat-out navel gazing as a means for avoiding the commencement of these projects.

Vigilant, ever vigilant.

 

TRES BON…..For now.

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In a radical departure from my norm, I think I have settled on the Roubo style bench as a proposed replacement for my outfeed table/assembly table.

I realize that I have forgone the traditional hand wringing and over examination of pros and cons, but I think this may be a natural choice.

One of the main reasons…as always…is the economy of this design narrowly beats out its Scandinavian counterpart. All told, I should be able to procure the required timber for just under $175.

Next, the dimensions. While not quite as short as I had initially envisioned, the height is just about perfect for hand planing work and also for it’s use as an outfeed table for the tablesaw. The length will still provide some extra breathing space between this bench and my main workbench. The nice thing about this will be that I will still have storage for both my planer and my sliding mitre saw, as well as a bit of space at the end to tuck a shopvac, or stool, or what have you under the overhang.

An added bonus will be the joy of having built both a Scandinavian design and a Roubo, thus soothing my craven desire to “have it all.”

I also like the idea of having two highly versatile work spaces. The configuration of the different vises will provide added optional work holding capability. This will become increasingly important as I continue to focus on more handwork using hand saws and planes.

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I think a simplified front vise will suffice. I can’t see spending the premium money for the Benchcrafted vise hardware swhown above in these pictures. However, I think I may actually attempt the Wagon Vise that is shown above. I have drawings and plans for a shop made version of the Benchcrafted equipment pictured. I like the Wagon Vise idea because the vise is captured within the bench itself, and therefore does not intrude in the already tight space I am trying to maximize. Were I to build a Scandinavian bench again, I would either have to contend with whacking my knees / hips on the vise handle, or delete it all together.

On balance I feel this is the best of all options since it seems I am bent on building yet ANOTHER workbench. I am excited to get moving on this project. It will be something of a technical challenge. The vise engineering alone takes me out of my comfort zone. The top lamination may make up for that, as I plan to laminate 7-4″x6″x80″ timbers together to get a top that is close to 28″ wide. The base will likewise be 4″x6″ timbers with 4″x4″ timbers as the stretchers between the legs. The legs will be through mortised into the top. Each hand chopped nortise will be nearly 6″deep. Each hand cut tenon will also be nearly 6″.

This project is a bit ambitious for just an outfeed table, to be sure. In the scheme of things though, it meets several needs especially as they relate to work holding for hand work with planes, chisels, and hand saws.

Wheeewww….it’s going to be a fun ride. loving the adventure. I just need to get cracking on a couple of small lingering projects to clear the decks for this bad boy…..God I love this stuff.

FINE TEETH…OR HOW I “SAW” THE LIGHT…..

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Above are a trio of hand saws that I will be procuring in the very near future. The can normally be purchased through http://www.Leevalleytools.com, a purveyor of fine woodworking tooling.

Having broken out my vintage Stanley Bailey planes for fettling and fondling, I began a short meditation on hand cut joinery.

Now, I realize that I have mentioned that my hands just do not work the way they once did, and that I find hand cutting lots of dovetails etc. to be hard on my hands. However, I was thinking about it, and it seems to me that since I had been taught, long ago, the means and methods of hand cutting and fitting joinery, it might be a wee bit of a waste if I did not at least try to keep the practice up for as long as I am able.

Therefore, I have elected to leave the door open to hand cut joinery for special projects, or by special request.

Because hand cutting joinery is a bit more involved than using a router and a jig, it requires a few specialized tools in order to do it. Hand cutting mortises and tenons, dovetails and the like normally require a few specialized hand saws and some chisels that are a few steps above the run of the mill Marples Blue chip chisel set.

I know you are saying to yourself…”self…he is just creating a need for more tools to be purchased”. Yep, you are correct…Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

I did not start out looking for an excuse to go Ebay surfing for saws and chisels, but as a happy byproduct of my decision to maintain my chops vis-a-vis hand cut joinery, I will need to make a few additions to my hand tool ensemble.

The thoughtful folks at Lee Valley Tools have a lovely selection of hand tools. The saws that I am going to be buying…sometime soon I hope…are from a Canadian company named Veritas.

Veritas also makes some very high quality hand planes, chisels, jigs, vises, and many other woodworking accoutrements.

In this particular case, I am departing from my norm and am planning to buy new tools rather than recycling vintage pieces. This is for several reasons.

The first has to do with economy. For the cost of those three saws above, (conveniently put into a package deal by Lee Valley Tools) I “might” be able to get one or two of their counterparts in fair condition on Ebay…MAYBE.

Don’t let the woodworking talking heads convince you that Ebay is the one stop shop for quality, though maybe needing TLC, tooling at bargain basement prices. It seems that anyone who goes to flea markets, yard sales, and second-hand tool stores has a “buy-it-now” on Ebay with a price that will make you wonder what the color of the sky really is on the planet that these people are from. I think they plan to retire on the proceeds of their tool sales there.

So, buying new tools that will require next to no tuning, that come with a warranty, and that are of proven high quality, seem to me to be something of a bargain.

Another reason is that these tools come backed by unbiased reviews by some fairly heavy hitters in the woodworking world. Paul Sellers being the one whose opinion sealed the deal for me. He had a few of Veritas’s saws in his shop for some long-term (three years) testing and gave them glowing reviews. Mr. Sellers is a revered hand tool aficionado. He knows good tooling, and how to rescue it from the landfill and tune it up for another 50-100-150 years of faithful service. He is an inspiration to me. So if he green-lights a particular tool…new or old….I pay attention. Add in my own personal experience with some of Veritas tooling, and it really is a no-brainer for me.

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In any case, I am looking forward to rounding out my arsenal of hand tools with some new saws, a couple of sets of new chisels, some vintage layout tools, and maybe even a small coffeemaker for The Tiny Shop.coffee

Another new addition on the horizon is a place to put all this woodworking finery. I have a great, OLD, Craftsman brand tool chest combo that has been a real God send. I very close friend of mine passed it on to me when I first started putting The Tiny Shop together. I cleaned, waxed and buffed it up, took the useless casters that were on it…barely…off, and plopped it down on a dolly for mobility. Better than new.

Still, even with the tool box from heaven, I would like a set up dedicated to the “finer” tools that I have and that I plan to get.

Initially, I had considered just finding another Craftsman set up like the one I have now. That morphed into building a duplicate out of wood. That then morphed further into something of a hybrid. I would like a base chest of say, four deep drawers. Then perhaps another case that has several more drawers of various depth on top of that. On top of both of those cases, I want to build a plane till and some dedicated spaces for chisels, hand saws, layout tools, and a couple of small drawers for…well….just because they are cool. Something like a cross between this….

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…and these…

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Perhaps you can see where my sudden interest in hand cutting dovetails is coming from now?

The first two pictures of a tool chest above, are pictures I grabbed from Paul Sellers blog site. (www.paulsellers.com)

They are of his personal tool chest. I love this chest, but can see a plane till like the one just above here, sitting on top. Also, instead of a stand, I would set the cases on a very low, cradle of sorts, to make use of the dead space for those deeper drawers I want in the bottom case.

It looks like I just made a lot of fun work for myself again….I feel no shame in saying….I can’t wait to go shopping and then get to making some saw dust in The Tiny Shop.

Refreshed

Above is the before/after of the Art Deco -ish dresser I rehabbed a while back. Next up was it’s bigger brother, a dresser/vanity combo.

Both pieces had some significant veneer damage. Some I could repair, and some were just too far gone.

Over all, with a quick rehab, rather than restoration, I think they turned out rather nice.