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Moving Shop

I have been working out of my current garage for about five years.  The space has converted from a shared garage to a full fledged wood shop during that period.  After completing the new workbench and adding proper lumber storage, the shop was finally set up in an open and efficient manner.

Then, we went and bought a house.  The process happened very fast, and we were careful to make sure there would be a space for a new wood shop. In the end, I’ll lose about 45 square feet of space, but should still be able to keep making furniture and decorative items.

That is, after I’ve got the new shop setup.  The garage that I’ll be taking over has no lights and no electricity at this point.  Furthermore, the old carriage doors are in need of total replacement after what has to be a few decades of neglect.  The concrete floor needs repairs and leveling. This will definitely involve a lot of work, and I hope to at least have a minimal shop up and running in the next month or two.  Watch for updates.

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Processing Stock for the Chess Table

I spent today getting a bicep and tricep workout in the garage.  I had seven cherry boards to flatten, each about 7 inches wide and 36 inches long.  Several of the boards had substantial twist to them and all of them had some cupping and bowing.

Making this process even harder is the lack of a good workholding solution on my bench for working faces.  I settled on a 3-point plan of holding boards.  Two screws at the lefthand side of the bench and a notched batten at the back.  This seemed to work alright, though I broke the heads off of two screws over the course of my seven boards.

Next I need to sort the boards to decide what parts come from each board and run them through my thickness planer (!) to get to appropriate final sizes.

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Staying Sharp

It’s never fun, but sometimes you need to take a time out and sharpen all of your tools. I’d rather be making stuff.

Sharpened three plane irons, seven bench chisels, and three turning tools today.  I noticed that I had been sharpening my bench chisels with a slight skew despite using a side clamp guide.  I need to trouble shoot that as it’s a recurring issue.


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Shop Notes – 2017-10-20


I brought a fir 4×4 down to round this morning.  I need to sit and sketch out the pattern that I’d like for it, including taking measurements from the article I am working from to lay out for the top tenon and the bottom sliding dovetails.

The blank was roughed out with a 1″ spindle roughing gouge.  I then decided to get some practice with the skew chisel.  Taking a 1″ skew to it, I immediately had a catch and tear out.  I’m not too worried about it as I have at least a few more blanks worth of the fir that is nice and dry.  After resetting, I continued to use the skew and was able to get fantastic curly shavings.  While the round blank is clearly nowhere near a finished state, I found that the skew leaves a fantastic surface with minimal tearout.  I’m going to try to use it as the primary tool for this first turning to get more practice with the tool.


I stopped at Rockler this afternoon and picked up a bed extension for my lathe.  It will give me the ability to turn 39 inches between centers when attached.  This will be great for making a campaign chair and stool in the future.  However, I have run into a bit of a problem.  While it gives 39 inches between centers, it needs a wider workbench to sit on.  That means that my current workbench (48 inches) is not going to cut it.

I initially thought that I would build a dedicated bench for the lathe (using a similar design to the saw bench I build a bit over a month ago).  However, I’ve been thinking of building a new workbench for some time and this is probably a great reason to build a new main bench.

As I work in a narrow one-car garage, a proper 8 foot bench is out of the picture. The garage is about 9 feet at its widest.  I’m considering a bench between 5 and 6 feet long (which would leave only 18 inches on either side if build to 6 feet) and 20 inches deep.  After working on a number of projects so far, I’ve found that my current depth of about 30 inches is unneeded.  The space at the back of the bench is just about never used for any operation.  It usually just collects tools and shavings or allows me to be lazy and not put the lathe away when not in use.

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Shop Notes – 2017-10-14

I didn’t have a chance to spend much time in the shop today. What time I had was spent checking lumber stock and testing some of the auger bits that I have recently restored.

Testing bits

However, I was able to test an expansion bit and a no 13 Irwin auger bit with my brace after having cleaned them up a few days ago.  Both of those bits have rather large square tapers that barely fit into the chuck of the brace.  They cut nicely when I was finally able to chuck each of them up.  I’ll sharpen them when I have a bit of time.

Chess table project

I will need to make a trip to a lumber supplier for this table project.  I had a chance to look through the wood I have available.  I would like to make the top, drawer fronts, and legs out of maple.  Unfortunately, I do not have nearly enough of the ambrosia maple I had been saving for all of those parts. I think I have enough to do a three board glue up for the top only.

I have a fir 4×4 that I would like to use for the post.  It is leftover stock from building a cat tree about four years ago.  I already did a rough cut to 18 inches.  It’s nice and dry.  I’ll have to chuck it up tomorrow and see how it turns.

The following appears to be my cut list for the project:

Item Length Width Depth Number Wood
Top 20″ 18″ 3/4″ 1 Maple
Legs 9 1/2″ 10 3/4″ 3/4″ 3 Maple
Post 18″ 3 1/2″ 3 1/2″ 1 Fir
Center Cleat 16 1/4″ 2 3/4″ 1″ 1 Maple
Side Cleats 16 1/4″ 1 1/2″ 1″ 2 Maple
Draw Fronts 5″ 3 1/2″ 1/2″ 4 Maple
Drawer Sides 16 1/4″ 3 1/2″ 3/8″ 4 Maple
Drawer Runners 16 1/4″ 3/8″ 3/8″ 4 Maple

The original plans had called for using pine for the top and drawer sides. I may still do that. I’ve made the top thicker than indicated in the FWW article as I’ll be inlaying a chess board of 1/16″ veneer. The original had called for a 9/16″ top rather than a 3/4″ top. We’ll see how that progresses.