The heat is on here in Las Vegas, a bit earlier than expected but when I get to the shop at 7-8:00 am it’s already in the low 80’s and humidity around 2-3%. I’ll work until there is too much sweat on the wood or tools or until I just can’t stand it anymore!
Let’s start with the SawStop as that’s been taking quite a bit of my time and thought process. First of all, I can’t compliment their customer service enough, Jamie from WoodItIs has three of their saws in her school/studio and when I was doing my research she gave them high marks too. For me it’s still a learning curve on how to best incorporate the slider into my work but I had an issue with the blade tilt so called them. Diane says they’re probably tired of hearing from me but the technician I’ve been talking to the most (Trent) hasn’t given me that impression.
Once that was resolved I decided to see about making some sort of jig to cut the sides of mitered boxes that I have on the Etsy store. Those and finger jointed ones are the only machine cut joinery I use, the other boxes are all hand cut. At left is what I came up with. The complete sled at the top of the picture was my first attempt. You can see, it’s not much different from what I used before the sliding table. The main difference is that it’s attached to the slider rather than guided by the miter gauge slots of the saw. Very time consuming to make and sorry to say, didn’t work too well! It’s a process getting the slider perfectly adjusted for a 90 degree cut and by adding the complete sled/carriage to the arm, accuracy was lost, probably since there are so many pieces any error will be magnified. That got me thinking, why would you need a complete sled anyway? The main safety concern I have is leaving a piece trapped under the blade when it’s tilted at an angle so keeping that in mind I decided to try a simple extension that can be cut by the blade, attached to the sliding table arm, and safely carry both pieces past the blade.It’s a piece of 3/4″ MDF that has been doubled up for the last 9″ or so to add some rigidity. I’ll show you how it functions in a slide show but I found that the slot on the slider is sized for M6-1.0 metric nuts. For this I also used a M6-1.00 x 25mm button head cap screw and washer. The first step was to locate the center of this hole which is 1-3/32″ from the bottom. First up was using a 1/2″ forstner bit to cut a counterbore for the cap screw and washer, followed by a through hole made with a 1/4″ drill. To locate this jig in the same position (more or less) each time I decided to use the rip fence. After sliding the jig onto the slider arm, the fence is locked at 9-1/2″; the jig is then slid against it and tightened in place with an allen wrench. It’s ever so slightly off of 90 degrees for this practice piece. Here’s the process:
One problem is that the stops don’t quite hit the table anymore. A scrap piece clamped to it works but the best solution will probably be to have a block with a 45 degree cut to register it exactly. Due to the left tilt the point of the cut is at the bottom which makes it a bit tricky to stop exactly — that’s a problem for later. At this point I’m happy to see that this will work. Next will be making a jig to cut finger joints, hopefully the SawStop brake designed for an 8″ dado will be my Father’s Day present this Sunday!
It may seem that the SawStop has been taking the majority of my work time but I’ve also been working on the panels for the Armoire. You may recall that since these are about 16 1/2″ wide I choose to wait for the slider before I cut them to size. I’m learning that the easiest way to set the slider 90 degrees to the blade is by using a 12″, plastic drafting square. Once set, cutting these panels was a cinch. After sizing them they were rabbeted using the router table I added to the SawStop in this blog. Now it’s time to go to one of my favorite activities, hand planing those pieces. Well, usually this is a favorite time but between the thinness of the panels (+/- 3/8″) and the changes in grain direction of the Mahogany there was some frustration. Since the panels are thin and wide trying to flatten them was beyond my capability. After watching Garret Hacks video again on how he sharpens and sets up his smooth plane I went for another sharpening session. His goal is to camber the blade so the shavings produced are thicker at the center and taper off to almost nothing at the edges. I think I accomplished that:
My techniques varied to get success, even sometimes pulling the plane rather than pushing it! Also, by putting shavings under low areas it was easier to plane the entire surface. Once I was satisfied with the results the finish process began. Although I still have mixed feelings about the Tried and True Danish oil this piece will have one coat of that rubbed in very thinly followed by multiple coats of the three part, wet sanded finish I’ve been using most of my life. EPA be darned, I like the smell of turpentine and as long as it’s only on the exterior surfaces the odors won’t be a problem. Interior surfaces will be sealed/protected with shellac. All panels have their first coat of oil plus 3 wet sanded coats of the topcoat. Assembly time is getting closer every day!
After fine tuning the fit of each of the mortise and tenon joints it’s time to plane each of the crosspieces for the framework. There are ten for the unit which also means that there will be 20 mortise and tenon joints that need to be glued up and clamped at one time! That doesn’t include the drawer webs which I’ve decided to simply insert loosely into their perspective mortises. Six drawers with two runners each means another bunch of joints that need to be assembled at one time. I haven’t seen this done before but the plan is to have some side to side play in the joinery for the drawer webs then square and pin them after the case is assembled. It sounds good on paper but only time will tell. I’ve mentioned the heat wave we’re going through right now and even with the use of Old Brown Glue the goal is to assemble the complete piece in less than 15 minutes — only time will tell! Let me leave this subject and show you the wonderful effects a smooth plane has on a piece of lumber. Photo’s barely show the sheen you accomplish this way as opposed to abrading the surface with sandpaper.
Veritas Small Plow Plane Update
Unfortunately, the replacement plane sent by Lee Valley had the same issues as the first one — the depth stop doesn’t hold. I have a history of getting the lemons and have had problems with everything from clothes to tools to cars. I contacted them and they will issue a full refund. I asked them to check the tools and let me know what they find. At our Sin City Woodworkers meeting this week one of the guys happened to have his small plow plane. I checked out his depth stop and it held in some positions but in others you’re able to use light pressure from your thumbs and move it no matter how tightly you crank the knob. Perhaps a pair of pliers would insure it holding but that’s not an option. I posted this concern on Lumberjocks and Derek Cohen from Australia sent this response showing how he has modified all of his Veritas planes knobs by filing a screwdriver slot in them. It’s towards the bottom of the forum and although it looks fine it’s not something I feel like doing!