Monday, December 13, 2010

Number 12 gets a touch-up

What would you do the night before the last exam of your degree program? 

Restore a tool?

What a coincidence, me too.

I went back to my parents' house this past weekend for the first time in over a year. Between their house and their furniture they live among quite a lot of wood. I found myself unable to ignore the construction of most everything I came across during my stay there. They have accumulating a number of older objects from their own parents things, among them a tool chest that has been passed down from father to son along my father's line. This past visit wasn't the first time I had seen this chest or its content at my folks' home, but I guess I've learned quite a bit about old hand tools since my last examination. I knew what pretty much everything was. Take this beast, for example:
It was not too long ago that I would have had no idea what in the world this was, so I was quite proud of myself for knowing a scraper plane when I saw one. This is a Stanley #12 Scraper Plane. According to the Stanley Bible, this tool is no younger than 63 years old, but probably older. It is missing its handle and scraper blade, but the handle is easily made and the scraper is cheaply procured.

So I wrapped it in an old shirt and flew it back down to Tucker for a little TLC. I was shocked TSA didn't hassle me.

I made pretty good progress on the body tonight:

I got the vast majority of rust off it and polished the brass up a little bit too. I'm probably going to replace those nasty screws that hold the handle on--at least they weren't stripped Philips. We'll see the making of a new handle in the coming days. 

Until then, wish me luck tomorrow at 11:30.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Procrastinating and Prototyping...

Let's see, in the next 10 days I have a presentation, a large modeling project* to finish--and start for that matter--an exam, and two finals. Sounds like today would be a great day to be productive, doesn't it?
*Subsurface contamination modeling...not swimsuit.

Yeah, it does. But I wasn't.

I decided instead to prototype a bow saw. Here's a fine example of one. It's typical on homemade versions to use a length of bandsaw blade for the blade. I happened to have an old one sitting around, so I was in business. Typically you drill a hole in either end of the blade and run a pin through it to attach it to the frame. The only problem is that these holes have to be at fairly precise lengths to make it work. I don't have much faith in my precision, so I thought of a work-around. The brace of my saw would meet the two arms at pivoting mortise and tenons that would allow for a large margin of error in overall blade length. If you don't understand, keep going; a picture is worth 1000 words.

I had a nice scrap of maple lying around. Looks like a potential saw, doesn't it? Lilah thought so too.

Then I cut it down...
As you can see, it's really starting to look like an actual tool by now.

Then I just eyeballed a shape for the arms and bandsawed them.

Then I chopped my mortises into the arms where they join the brace. Next I needed to cut the inside curve along the mortise shoulders. Here's how I got uniform curves:
An arm is in the background and a piece of scrap wood is in the foreground. I centered the scrap wood to the center of where the mortise was and swung an arc with a compass. Then I cut the arc out with a coping saw:

Next it was time to cut the tenons for the brace. I'm not aware a tool that would work really well for cutting a curved shoulder, so I just roughed it out and then trimmed away:
I suppose a compass-shoulder plane would be ideal for this job...the problem is that I don't think they exist. This theoretical tool would be a combination of this and this.

Anyway, once the brace was finished I had a rough bow saw:
So you can see now how the arms can pivot to accommodate slightly different length blades. Anyone see a problem with this design? At this point I didn't either.

Now it was time for the hardware. I bought some 8mm bolts and ground flat sides opposite each other on the ends:

Next I needed to cut a slot for the blade to run between the two flat sides. Trying to start a hacksaw cut on the end of a bolt can be quite a trial so I helped myself out by using a sharpening file to start the groove:

Then I just used a hacksaw to cut the slot. Notice how the vise is used as a guide for the cut:

Then I drilled one side of the slot bigger than my pin bolt and the other side slightly smaller so that the bolt could tap it itself:

Now time to put it all together:
What happens is that by turning that stick in the middle, the string at the top of the arms tightens. This causes the arms to pivot on the brace and this is what tensions the saw blade. Believe it or not, this actually worked. There was, however, one detail that prevented the saw from cutting really will. If you examine the picture closely you can see that bent nails are pinning the blade in place, not the pin bolts. The saw blade was, in this case, too narrow to drill a hole large enough for the pins to fit through. The nails worked alright, but they allowed a lot of slop that prevented the blade from remaining aligned. This caused the saw cut to wander. No good. Ideally the bolt would tighten the blade in place and kept it aligned. I'll need a new bandsaw blade.

I also have to say that the pivoting mortise and tenon doesn't work great. Sometimes the whole frame "racks," like a big parallelgram. It's a little hard to explain in words. Oh well, it was a good effort.

My wife also did some woodworking today:
She broke her first board in taekwondo...the woman is truly lethal.

Maybe tomorrow I'll start that modeling project...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress Report

I'm sure that all of you faithful followers have been checking this blog every day for the past few weeks and have had your hearts broken daily by the lack of new material. What can I say? I've been busy.

Not really...just haven't been working much wood. I milled a couple more logs for stock and have been pretty good about keeping up with the dovetail-a-day project. It's not going to exactly be "30 DTs in 30 days" because I was away for Thanksgiving, but it will be close. Here's where things currently stand:

Pretty cool, eh? I was considering making it an outwardly spiraling square, but then you couldn't see old joints and that would've taken a lot more wood towards the end. Here was the first effort:

And here was tonight's specimen:
It hard to capture the differences with a camera, but you can see a lot less over-cut at the base of the tails and pins. There is a little blow-out on that top full-pin but I think that actually happened when I cut the stock to size. I've also reduced the time by nearly a third, so that's pretty good.

The past two days have been very wet here in North Georgia. Rain, rain, and more rain. I was out in the garage yesterday puttering around and noticed a light coating of RUST on the side of one of my bench planes. Then I noticed it on the sole of the plane. Then I saw some on other planes, some on my holdfast, some on my vise hardware, and basically the whole surface of my scrollsaw. Most of it was light enough that I could just rub it off with a rag damp with Boeshield. Other surfaces, such as the scrollsaw were in bad shape:
For this, I had to get out the sandpaper and give it a little elbow grease. In truth it's pretty satisfying work because the results are pretty quick and look nice too:

This rust had to have formed in about 48 hours. Unreal. A couple of weeks ago I started keeping a Boeshield rag in a little Altoids tin on the workbench for wiping off my handsaw after I used it. The Schwarz recommends this and I'm now inclined to extend the use to all ferrous tools. Along with more Boeshield, I've added a respirator to my Amazon wishlist; I'm getting a little tired of that penny taste in my mouth.

Speaking of Amazon, it can be pretty fun to play around with some times. For example, THIS is the most popular item in the "Tools and Home Improvement" category. I watched the video for Twilight Turtle wanting to know if he projected actual constellations and it looks like he does. But judging from the included book they're all messed up: they have Cepheus as a house! Grrr. Also, THIS is the bestseller in the "Power and Hand Tools subcategory. Is that even a tool? Frankly I'm astonished THIS and THIS weren't even in the Top 10. Come on, America! Is there any question that our country is in the tank?

So there you have it...not a whole lot to report. Right now I'm just trying to wrap up the semester, graduate, and get really really good at dovetailing. Also, most projects in the near future will probably be Christmas gifts, so they may not receive the much attention on this blog.

In the near future I'm looking at building another couple of saws. I've been looking at bow saws for a little while and I think they would be fun to make, so look for that after Christmas. My mind is moving more and more towards harvest lumber for stock, so I think a big rip frame saw is in order as well.