Saturday, July 18, 2009

Workbench: Top Glue Up Update

I'm making some serious headway on the top glue up. Only took me about a 1 1/2 gallons of glue and a little over a week. One of the worst things about working on a bench is that you probably lack a decent place to do your work. Especially your planing work. My current workbench is a 4' Harbor Freight bench that weighs about 50 pounds soaking wet. If you look at this photo you can see what I had to do to brace up my bench so I could do some planing on part of the workbench top.

I know what your thinking..."Where can I get a set up like that." Hopefully this setup will be available for purchase in the near future. Make me an offer I can't refuse!

Making this bench top has been a work out for all my tools. Someday I'll get my dust collection pipe run to all the tools so I don't have such a mess. Believe it or not, this shop was cleaned up before starting this project. As you can see it is certainly in need of maid service...

Have you ever started a project and had a few tools that just come in so handy? I had a few tools, under-appreciated tools, that really come through for me in a pinch. In the picture below you will see a few tools on the right. Its a Sandvik scraper, Crayola sidewalk chalk, and a Do It Best square tooth spreader.

If you haven't used one of these carbide scrapers your missing out. In my opinion this is the best scraper on the market. Chalk is a fairly new concept for me in woodworking. As a kid we always used it in our upholstery shop. It just never crossed my mind that it could be useful for wood also. This is from a box of Crayola sidewalk chalk. It works wonderfully. Its large enough that it doesn't break all the time. In addition to general marking I have been known to cover a board with chalk before planing it so I can see exactly what the blade is removing. I just place the chalk on its side and mark. You can cover a board in a few seconds. It has been a help for me when learning some new hand plane techniques. Finally the flat tooth spreader. I happen to stumble on this while I was at the hardware store. This made covering the boards with glue a snap. It was messy, but it got the job done. I never had any issues with my glue trying setting up on me. I felt it might be nice to pay homage to some of the under appreciated tools in the shop.

So far this is as far as I have gotten with the top. It is still in two pieces.

The top is measuring about 26 3/4", a little more than I had planned on. I have run both pieces though the planer and I'm ready to get them joined together. A little trimming and it should resemble a bench top.

David B.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Workbench: Top Glue Up

Some of you may remember me rambling on about building a workbench a while back. Life got in the way, but I'm back on task. The details of the bench are somewhat up in the air. I think I will build a plain bench with no vices, bench holes, etc. Then I will decide what kind of hardware I will need. The bench should resemble Chris Schwarz's Roubo workbench (below).

I have started milling and gluing up the bench top. I plan on my top finishing on 2'x8'x3". I wish it was going to be a little thicker but I'm working with what I've got. I am using red oak which I hope will give quite a bit of heft to the project. I'm gluing up the top in 5 sections. Each section being about 5 1/2" wide. This way I can still run it through the joiner, if need be. I'm using #20 biscuits between the boards just to hold them in place during glue up. I am also trying Chris's Method of applying glue. It's been messy but effective. I believe the building the top will be the most stressful part of the build. Trying to get 9 foot long pieces of wood perfectly straight on a 6" joiner can wear on a person. Since I only have enough clamps to do one glue up at a time, it may be a week or two before I have something that resembles a workbench top.
I'll try and get some photo's together and post them.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

REVIEW: Rob Cosman Video Series

Since my first dabbling in hand tools I saw a lot of references to Rob Cosman's video's. I recently had an opportunity to see what all the hub-bub was about. I'm am a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to woodworking video's. I find myself to be a visual learner. So I was quite excited to get started. The videos I have are Dovetails, Advanced Dovetails, Rough To Ready, Hand Planing, and Drawer Making I & II.

Since I have been learning to cut dovetails recently, I got started there. Rob uses a tails first method. I am a pretty avid fan of Frank Klausz's pins first approach but I am always looking for a better way of doing things. Rob also advocates the use of very small pins. This I'm not a fan of. I have a more shaker/utilitarian approach to my work. I don't think you should sacrifice strength for aesthetics. I'm not going through all the trouble to hand cut dovetails to purposely make them weaker. One thing that I did think was great is that he covered Hounds Tooth dovetails. This is something I haven't seen in other videos. Overall I found Rob's dovetailing method to be slow but deliberate. It will give you beautiful dovetails but the extra layout and tools may slow you down.

I would have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of his hand planing video's. His methods here seemed painfully slow. So slow in fact that in places they started playing music to distract you from the fact it was taking forever. I have seen several people true a board from the rough. Rob's method by far took the longest. Rob also failed to adequately explain his philosophy on hand planes. He only discussed the few hand planes that he was using in the video. Shouldn't we have at least discussed other hand planes?

The drawer making videos were not of great interest to me. First off this should have been one video. You can't walk someone halfway though creating and fitting a drawer and call that a video. Anyway, these video's are based on the idea of creating "piston fit" drawers. I feel this video over complicates the drawer making process. Again, I feel Frank Klausz described this process better. Build the drawers to fit the hole tightly. Then when you clean up you clean up your dovetails with the plane you will have a tight fitting drawer. Rob's method will work, but I found it overly complicated and as a result...slower.

Overall, I didn't find that I cared much for the video's. This isn't a reflection on Rob's skill or knowledge. I simply found that Rob overcomplicated some issues and didn't discuss others enough. I just think there are superior woodworking videos out there that cover the topics more clearly. Speed is a big issue for me also. I'm coming from a cabinetmaker's point of view. I have to be able to make money doing this.

My choice video for hand planing is still Chris Schwarz's "Coarse, Medium, Fine." My favorite for dovetails and drawer making is still Frank Klausz's "Dovetail A Drawer."

David B.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coopering 101

This is a great video I come accross today. While parts of the video come off quite comedic the results are remarkable. After watching this guy build this bucket with minimal tools in what seems to be his mother-in-laws living room, makes me ashamed that I don't do more with the shop full of tools that I have. It reminds me that I need "a little less talk, and a lot more action."