Video 3 – Stock Prep

I go through the basic process of prepping stock so that it can be used successfully for any project.

This is my first true how-to video, so it is a bit rough. I took the opportunity to practice creating and editing video. There are some issues with it, like my head being cut-off, audio not that great at times, and so on. My next video, I will work on improving some of these areas.

The video was shot with my Samsung Galaxy 4S, and edited with Microsoft Movie Maker.

Enjoy my video on stock prep!

Posted in Articles, Videos | Leave a comment

English Layout Square

squares_cleaned_upAs I have mentioned in other posts, I am pretty active in the chat room that is associated to The Wood Whisperer.  We will on occasion have challenge and trade projects, where we build something that is designed to push our skills, and then send it to another member.  This time we chose to do a woodworking hand tool.  Something we did a little different with this one, is we ran it similar to a secret Santa, where we found out who we would be sending our tool to before we got started. However, we did not know who we would be receiving from.

For my tool, I built an English Layout Square.  Actually, I built two of them.  Since I knew this project would really stretch my skills, I wanted one to practice each step, before doing the step on the piece I sent out.  While the practice square has a couple obvious mistakes, it turned out well.   As soon as I find a spot for it, the practice square will be hung on the wall, ready for use.

The wood I used is cherry.  After milling the cherry down to 1/2″ thickness, I sized up the two main arms of the square.  The joint to bring the two arms together is a bridal joint.  The tenon for this bridal joint was thin, coming in about 1/8″.  I made this tenon using a shop made tenon jig on the table saw.  Using the same jig, I adjust the distance of the tenon jig from the blade to get the work piece as centered as possible, to allow the table saw to hog out the center.

arm_detailAfter getting the bridal joint done, the traditional English Layout Square has a lot of ornamental detail to it.  I roughed out most of this detail on the band saw, and then where I could, used the oscillating spindle sander to clean up the detail.  The rest, I cleaned up by hand, using my rasp, chisels, and sand paper.

Once I got the detail work done, it was time for the first glue-up.  After several dry fits, I was able to get the bridal joint to fit together well.  The mistake I made was I let it be a little too tight.  The problem with that is the wood swelled a bit when I applied the glue.  I was able to get the pieces together, but it proved to be a challenge.   The other challenge to this glue-up is making sure I got the square as close to 90 degrees as possible.

cross_brace_fittedThe next step was working on the cross brace.  The joinery for that is two half lap joints.  I did this almost entirely with hand tools.  Once I establish the position of the cross brace, I stuck a line using a marking knife on the arms.  I used the marking gauge to set the distance down to so that I was removing just shy of 1/4″ of material.  Once I got all that indicated, I used chisels to cut small channels along the cut lines, where I then was able to follow those with my crosscut saw, and cut down 1/4″.  Using my chisel and mallet, I cleared out as much material as possible.  I then cleaned it up using my router plane.  Once that was done, I fitted the cross brace back into the square.  This allowed me to mark on the brace where I needed to cut.  I again, used chisels to cut a channel, and cut down a 1/4″ with the crosscut saw. Using a resaw cut, I cut away as much of the half lap as I could, and the finished the cut using a dovetail saw.  Finally I popped out the remaining piece with a chisel.  I cleaned up and fitted the brace using the router plane.

Once the half laps were fitted, I completed the ornamental work using the same methods I did with the arms.  Once I got it looking good, I glued the cross brace in place.

square_squareOnce the glue was dried, I started cleaning up all three joints.  This was mostly done with my smoothing plane and block plane.  I then sanded the faces of the square to 220.  Now came the square of the blade.  I used my framing square as a reference for getting the layout square.  After marking a line on the square as to where I needed to go down to, I used my smoothing plane to trim away some material to bring it closer to square.  Then using the jack plane, I established a straight edge.  I repeated this a few times till the square was, well, square.

square_completeThe finish was fairly simple.  I wiped on a coat of boiled linseed oil, and let it set for a week.  On a very sunny day, I set the square out in the sun to let the cherry darken a bit.  Once the oil had cured, I buffed it out using the Beall buffing system.

This turned out to be a very fun project for me, as well as a good challenge.  I accomplished making some joinery that I have never done before, as well as pushed my hand tool skills further along.

Posted in 2014, English Layout Square, Projects | 2 Comments

Lumber Rack

in_progressOne of the big areas my shop has lacked is good lumber storage.   Most of the time when I buy wood, I buy just enough to accomplish the project, with maybe an extra board or two just to have on hand for when I need to remake a piece I screwed.  (That never happens right?!?)  In away this has been a benefit in my overall growth as a woodworker as it has forced me to try to recover from mistakes without making new parts.  Hopefully this will always be the mindset I work on at this point.  The drawback of buying wood this way is it is more expensive.  My local wood supplier often has good deals on wood, but in most cases to take advantage of the deal you have to buy 100 board feet as minimum.  I simply did not have the space for that much wood.  The small space I had stored my wood, only allowed for about 20-25 board feet, and was vertical storage.  While vertical storage isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for my situation, it was just propped up against the wall, and was prone to falling over.  Also, it was often in my way when trying to get to the my dust collector.  It was time to make some changes to the garage and build a lumber rack.

The first challenge I had, was where do I put it?  All my walls were full with either peg board or other items hanging on it.  And when I say peg board, it was full 8’x4′ sheets of peg board.  However, one sheet was over where we keep our trash cans, and some other storage, and as I was looking at it, I realized everything that was on it could either be put someplace else, or go in the trash.    This meant  I could free up a section of wall that was 8′.  PERFECT!  So I cleared out that area, and I pulled down the pegboard.  There were some other hooks and hangers on the wall that I also took down that freed up even more space.  After I got it all cleared out, I made some minor repairs to the wall, and I was ready to go.

completeThe construction really was pretty simple.   The design of the rack I took notes from various racks out on the Internet as well as studied the design from and came up with one for what I need.  The bones of the rack were constructed from construction grade 2x4s, and I used some inexpensive plywood from Menards.  Each bracket of the rack is a laminated 2×4 with an oversized plywood on either side.  These were constructed with glue and nails.   I decided to go with 3 rows of brackets.  Since the wall studs were 24″ on center, I needed to make 5 columns, so this would need 15 total brackets.  Once the brackets were complete, I could work on the vertical supports.  I drill counter bored holes for the lag bolts.  I then put up each vertical support so that it was supported on the garage floor, and the lagged bolted them into the wall studs.  I then used my laser level to mark out each row, and screwed in place each bracket.  Each bracket has 8 screws that go through the entire width, so it will be good solid.

The top row I discovered is actually above the track for the garage door.  I decided that this is fine, as I am not going to put a lot of weight up there, and use it mainly for storage for long items that I need out-of-the-way.  The bottom tow rows will be dedicated to lumber.

loaded_upThe only thing missing at that point was the wood!  My favorite go to hardwood supplier is Muterspaw Lumber, located in Xenia Ohio.  Check out his website at as he also ships lumber all around the country.  The owner, Chad Muterspaw, had been running a special on cherry for a while that I had wanted to take advantage of, and I now have the room to store it.   That 100 board feet of cherry fit very well on the first row of my lumber rack, so I have plenty of room for future wood purchases!

Posted in 2014, Lumber Rack, Projects | Leave a comment

Machine Setup

setup_toolsI have had many conversations about machine setup and have found many strong opinions on this subject. Therefore this could prove to be my most controversial article to date! :)

There are a lot of tools on the market today used for setting up and aligning the various components of our woodworking machinery to achieve as true a cut as possible. Some of these can be quite expensive I have talked to to many who like to make sure that their machines are no more than thousandth or 2 off, if that.

check_squareFor me, the tools I use for aligning my machines are a machinist square, a good straight edge, and a combination square. I use the machinist square to make sure blades and fences are 90* to the tables. If I don’t see light between the square and surfaces, I consider it square. I use the combination square for lateral alignment, such as the table saw blade to the miter slots. Finally the straight edge is used to make sure the work surfaces are flat.

check_flatThe next step after aligning my machines is to send test pieces though. Whether you are setting up machines with just the tools I have mentioned, or you are using dial indicators to get everything within the nearest thousandth of an inch, this is the most critical step in setting up a machine. The proof is in the results. What you may think is a perfectly dialed in machine could be proven wrong with the test piece. The good news is, if it is off, the error in the test piece will help indicate what needs to be adjusted.

check_parallelThe next aspect is keeping a machine tuned. Most decent machines will hold their setups well over time, however that doesn’t mean that they will always stay perfectly aligned. There are many things that can cause a tool to come out of alignment. Things like adjusting settings, vibration, bumping into the machine, and changes in temperature can all take a machine out of alignment. It is good to set a schedule for each machine to double-check alignments. Also, if you start to see you are not getting the expected results from machine operations, it is good to start checking up on alignments as well.

While it is nice to say all my machines are dead on, I am not going to claim that they are within a certain degree of tolerance. However, I can say with confidence that they are operating close enough for me to successfully complete projects.




Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Shop Tip – A Softer Bench Top

drawer_linerI picked this shop tip up from my good friend and fellow woodworker Roger T.  My primary bench is used for everything in my shop, including my table saw’s out feed table.  As a result the surface gets rough from glue splotches, divots, chips, and so on.  If I am not careful, I have been known to sand one side of work piece, flip it over, sand the other, then inspect both sides to find a freshly sanded face now has a scratch or bruise and now requires more sanding.  While I do run a sander over the top occasionally, that doesn’t always help.  An expensive solution is to get a role of the drawer liner that is essentially a foam rubber mesh.  I bought a 2’x6′ role from the local big box store for a little over $6.  My bench is right around 2’x 4′.  I rolled rolled_upit out so that it covers my enter bench and then using a straight edge and utility knife I cut it to length.  There is no need to use anything to attach the liner to the bench top as it lays flat on its own.  When I am done sanding, I simply roll up the liner and put some place out-of-the-way.

Posted in Shop Tips | Leave a comment