Monday, October 11, 2010

No Rest for the Weary

Well, I'm about ready to call the workbench done. I counterbored a hole for the good luck coin into one of the mortise wedges and banged it home. I used a Virginia quarter: but of course.

Onward to the next project. I mentioned making a replacement tote for my jointer plane earlier out of the ebony. I've never done anything like this before; fortunately cameras were rolling:

The first thing was to glue the template down to some plywood. I use plywood because it's a little more isotropic than solid wood and therefore it's easier to cut along a line that goes in different directions.

Then off to the scroll saw. I think the scroll saw will be the first power tool any future kids use. It's pretty safe--as far as power tools go--and really simple. I originally bought it for cutting wooden gears and was knocking good ones out the same night. The tote template is even easier.

Then I roughly traced the template onto the ebony, and cut out the rough blank on the bandsaw. I then attached the template on the blank with tape and push pins.

I then set up my router table with a flush trim bit. On this photo you can see how the bearing follows the template pattern and guides the carbide cutters. This trims the ebony into the exact shape as the template... least in theory. I've used this method for a lot of things with no problem, but I've never used it with ebony. The wood is so hard that a couple of times the piece kicked-back and nearly flew out of my hands, despite really light cuts and slow feed rate. This was pretty scary so I abandoned it and just went back to the scroll saw and used the template as a guide. Tah-dah!:

Then I used the marking gauge to mark the middle of the blank for hole-drilling purposes:

I then drilled the holes through which the bolts would go. I didn't photo-document this well because it was mentally and physically intensive and I was more concerned with not screwing it up. It all worked out with a little tuning at the end. Here's my drill press set up with the blank removed:
The table is set at 27 deg. for the hole angle and the block of wood keeps the blank straight upright.

It turns out that the template model didn't exactly fit my particular plane. Apparently there were variations throughout time. My plane couldn't accommodate the height of the template model so I had to trim the height a little bit. I was sad about this because I really wanted that big fin at the top.

Then I hit the whole thing with a round-over bit:

Then some rasping, filing, and sanding...

...rub a little oil on it and you have a tote.
Hmm, the picture didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped. Click on it to make it big.

Not bad for a first go, eh? It's a little chunky and not quite as graceful as the original but it fits my hand a lot better. I don't have huge hands but that original was so narrow it really dug into me. Plus this one has racing stripes. If only I had a lathe I'd make a matching knob. *sigh*

Similar post to come: I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Gramercy saw kit. I've alway wondered how the blade is installed into the brass spine:
Now I know. It doesn't look like a big deal but frankly I was horrified the first time I saw this video. Those are the teeth he's banging on there. Apparently this is how it's been done for centuries so who am I to argue?

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