Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wood Worker's Bible review

I finally finished reading my copy of "The Wood Worker's Bible: A Complete Guide to Woodworking" by Percy W. Blandford. Originally written in 1976 an republished by Popular Woodworking, this book claims to offer all the knowledge needed to get started in woodworking.

I purchased this book in November of 2011 and started to read it around February of 2012. After getting about half way through the volume, I put is aside to gather dust until I recently decided to finish it. It's not the most exciting material I have read, but in all fairness it was originally written in 1976 and wasn't updated for the republishing.

There were some great bits of information to be found in the book, but they are deeply embedded in many layers of text, allowing them to be easily over looked.

There were drawn illustrations to explain the text. More of these would have been nice, and many of them were confusing.

The book is more focused on the hand tools used in the craft than the power tool approach. This is ok for hand tool fans and historians, but I can see why other reviews thought it was out dated. Coincidentally, it was republished about the same time Popular Woodworking seemed to begin focusing more on hand tools.

The back cover also mentions a number of basic projects to practice techniques. After flipping through the book one more time to confirm this, there are no projects.

This was an ok book. I did learn lots of little tidbits that I will use in the future and would probably still reference certain sections of the book when I am looking for specific information. It would be a difficult read for an absolute beginner, and it would probably be very dry for anyone with experience.

It really does have "a little bit of everything" in the realm of woodworking, including sections on: carving, turning, veneering, fence building, doors, and mouldings. There was a lot more, but I think you get the point.

I would probably recommend certain areas of this book as starting points for research, but reading the book from cover to cover is probably unnecessary.

Glad to say I'm finished with it.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Have you seen my 32 foot level?

How do you level a surface 32 foot long without forking out $200 for a laser level? With water and a lesson from Mr. Morneau's 8th grade science class.

(Actually, I'm not certain his name was Mr. Moreau or if we ever got lesson teaching this technique. He did shoot me with a class c fire extinguisher though.)

Anyway, I digress.

I needed to level the 16 foot by 32 foot frame for the geekshop, and my little 4 foot level wasn't cutting it so I popped over to my local (30 minute drive drive) big box store and grabbed 50 foot of 3/8 clear tubing. Not having a faithful assistant, I came up with this contraption to help me.

A couple pieces of plywood butt jointed together allowed my to secure the jig to the one corner I believed was higher than the rest. The other end would sit on the section I was working on.

Once the other end was in place, I would fill the origin point to the line and read the heigh of the water on the far end. This jig worked great for all 15 piers, even the one on the opposite corner.

I am proud to say the frame is now level, although I am a little more than embarrassed at how far off my masonry was. I guess I need to practice on my foundation skills.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Joint of the day - the half dovetail

There is nothing as awesome or as strong as a half dovetail cut with an 8 inch circular saw and a chisel. (Well, maybe our scarf joint, but I'll save that for later.)

The half dovetails were used to connect the cross beams from the mortises in the Lathem house to the top of the new porch plate.

The dovetails pulled the plate tight and straightened any twisting caused by drying.

Congratulations, half dovetail, for being our joint du jour.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pay no attention to the moon on the roof

In the world of restoration, retaining the maximum amount of historic materials is a normal practice. When you can't do that, it's always good to reuse the material where you can, a sort of historic recycling.

Yesterday, Jason and I removed the old roof from the porch and south side of the Latham House (an 1830s coastal cottage) which will be getting new wooden shingles. The older shingles under the tin consisted of locally hand riven cypress and some newer western red cedar shingles.

The older cypress shingles were likely original to the house in terrible condition. The western red cedar shingles had been replaced about 20 years or so before being covered with tin.

These shingles had been sawn and imported from the west coast, probably Washington state. Unlike the hand riven cedar, many if the western reds were a full 12 inches in width. (It was customary to trim the width down from 4-6 inches to stop them splitting as they dried out.)

New cypress shingles are currently being sawn for us and the older shingles are heading for the old farm house.

A fair number of the western reds still have the ability to shed a few years of rain, so they are heading home with me where they will become part of the upcoming chicken coop. Can you say, recycle?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A solid investment, the 200lb thickness planer

I often find myself asking what kind of woodworker am I? I want to really use hand tools 100% of the time, but let's face it, most of us just don't have that sort of time.

Restoration work can be done only with hand tools, if you work exclusively with a museum. Normal clients don't care how it was done, only that it looks good. Of course, time is also money and it takes money to buy my last tool first.

Needing a thickness planer that was usable but affordable I kept my sights on one of the local woodworking forums. After a month or so, I found the diamond in the rough.

It's not big at only 6 inches wide. Nor does it self-feed, it only has a flat surface for me to push a board through manually.

It's definitely not pretty, but it is solid. (It weighs nearly 200 lbs with the stand.)

It was manufactured just after World War II and the blades are sharp. It works really well, not to mention the fact that it cost me $60.  I used it to mill about 24 foot of 3 inch wide reclaimed poplar for the laundry basket project yeaterday.

For the price it was a great temporary solution to a long-term problem. It will definitely work until a larger one comes along.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The more things change the more they stay the same

There have been a lot of changes since September 2011. The best thing I can say is I have worked with wood every day in the past year and a half.

(I just saw a mouse in the shop. Hmm, maybe I need to spend more time in here. Wonder what it is feeding on?)

Some days I work on historic restoration, other days I work on building a new workshop from scratch, and when it's raining I finally get to spend some time inside the old workshop/12x16 storage shed.

With life slowing down a little, or me getting used to the fast pace of my life, decided that it it's time to revisit this blog. I do want to shorten the entries. Longer posts are tedious, boring and no fun for all.

Today is a rainy day so I have time to work on a request for a dirty clothes hamper for the laundry room, so i better get to it now and post about it later.

For now,here is a mess I call the workshop.

Location:W Pippen St,Whitakers,United States