Friday, June 5, 2009

Ripping Wood

Saws, Bents and Benches

I recently had a question about the specs on the rip saw I was using in the Moulding plane/Miter blog from a few days ago. Instead of answering in the comment section I thought I'd do it here.
I have a few old Rip saws I've acquired through yard sales and flea markets as well as a new Pax from England. I barely touch the Pax except for soft, green wood outside of my shop...kind of the weekend work, helping out the brother-in-law build a fence or deck stuff. The particular saw in question is the one pictured above; the medallion says Corporate Mark Kangaroo and the plate has Rob Sorby Sheffield punched into it.
It's 28" long and filed at 6 tpi. (teeth per inch) I sent it down to Mark at Technoprimitives and he over hauled it last year. Needless to say he did an amazing job and it became my daily user.

It's the main saw I reach for except when ripping stock in the 1/2" range. I have another old Disston that has a 24" saw plate and is filed at 10 tpi. Between these two that usually takes care of my ripping needs but I'm very interested in the new Lie Nielsen panel saws. I have a few other old Rip saws as well but they're in need of some work. When ripping wood, to further answer the question asked I generally use my saw bench. This is the design by Chris Schwarz published in Woodworking Magazine a few years back. It's a nice design and a perfect height but I find with the two angled legs I sometimes hit the end of the saw into the lower stretcher...I've since designed my own saw bench and will share it with you here in a future post. For small stock I usually just fore go the saw bench and use my tail vise for most of my rip cuts. My bench is low enough that I never seem to have an issue with this method. I'll sometimes hold the piece in the tail vise and use a hold fast as well on my bench top to keep the work piece stable. I also have a couple of 'shop bents' as I call them. Basically they're saw horses that are the same overall dimension as the end profile of my work bench. I'll use these from time to time when ripping the edge of real large work but this is pretty rare in my shop.
The plans for these will be in my book so I better not put them editor may whack me across the knuckles with a yard stick!
Ripping wood by hand is probably one of the most intimidating things for people considering a hand tool only work shop; it's time and labor intensive but once you get your head around it it quickly becomes second nature. I clearly remember thinking back when I was first considering a shop with no power tools and the idea of ripping all of the wood for a piece of furniture scared the hell out of me! That said, it's been a year of hand saws and wood shavings and I don't even think about it now...assembling a cut list and grab the saw. It actually doesn't take that long either-another mis-conception I had.

So for anyone starting down this road I'll recommend a full size panel saw in the 28" ball park with a low tooth count for thick stock and then a smaller panel saw with a finer tooth for lighter work.
The saw bench mentioned from Woodworking Magazine is a great design and I'd recommend it to anyone but for me and my body type it wasn't a perfect fit. Try ripping along the workbench too, this is my preferred method but again to each his own...what ever feels comfortable is always the best way to go.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Greener Is as Greener Does...

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

As a woodworker-day in and day out, working with a medium that is truly all things living, I have a hard time not thinking about our planet, our forests and our environment. Not to get all 'Al Gore' on you- but global warming, green house gases and my own carbon footprint...we've all heard the arguments and hopefully we're all doing our share to help. That said I just received a letter from Mark at Technoprimitives describing how he's doing his own part. Bad Axe Tool works is his new saw manufacturing company and I thought (or hoped) that some of you out there may be interested to hear about his choices for packaging his new hand saws. This is a blog link from a company called Salazar packaging out of Chicago, they specialize in 100% recycled products. He's also working with another company that manufacturers a void fill/blocking/cushioning product called green cell foam to safely and soundly pack his saws- which by the way should be shipping next week!
On this note, I try my best to use reclaimed lumber whenever I can but when buying from a mill it's up to you as a woodworker to ask if the wood products you're using are sustainably harvested. Every little bit counts right?
Here is the blog: Salazar Packaging

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mouldings, Miters and More...

Hollows and Rounds

My new hollows and rounds arrived on Friday from Philly Planes in England, right on schedule as Phil Edwards told me. They looked and smelled great(new tools always smell so good), right out of the box all packaged up safely making the trip across the pond. He threw in a nice Philly Planes T-Shirt as well! A nice touch indeed...This morning I set aside a few hours and finally made some shavings and I'm very happy to report that they're great! Worth every cent which I should note wasn't out of touch by any means for some custom made hand planes. They have a nice, traditional shape, comfortable to hold and a nice light weight; Phil had mentioned some additional honing may be necessary but not before they're put to work awhile. He did a great job and I will recommend them to anyone interested in wooden bodied hand planes.
As you know if you're a frequent reader here I have a new project I'm starting this week. I'm building a solid exterior wooden door for a heritage property here in Toronto and this is what the planes were specifically purchased for. Wanting to take the planes for a test drive I decided to work on a sample section of one of the mouldings on the door; this will be the trim around the panels and I'll need about twenty running feet of this particular profile. I cut a scrap of poplar I had about 28" long and squared it up to begin. The following process represents a brief description of the steps in 'sticking' traditional mouldings.

To begin the moulding I first had to dimension the stock to size and this started with ripping it to width followed with some jointing with my 5 1/2 Bench plane. With the stock straight and square I'll lay out the moulding profile at each end and figure out my rabbet and dado configurations. Funny when sticking mouldings, we think of the hollows and rounds first and foremost but the reality is that most of the bulk of the material will be removed with a rabbet and plough plane. The hollows and rounds follow to the create the curves, slopes and fair out the sharp edges left behind by the first special purpose planes.

The rabbet and plough plane I'm using are Veritas with my Lie Nielsen medium shoulder plane to clean up the inside corners. I used my right handed Lie Nielsen as well to put the small rabbet on the opposite side of the profile, this was a luxury having the right handed plane to deal with the grain direction. The curves of the moulding is squared off with a series of rabbets determining each stepped area. This process continues on until all that is left is a small dado and then again with my shoulder plane the edges are beveled. This was a tip I got while watching Don McConnell's moulding making DVD; he states the you should always relieve any sharp edges before going to the moulding planes to help preserve the shape of the hollows and rounds. Actually, that tip as well as this entire process was demonstrated quite clearly in Dons excellent video- I recommend anyone planning on doing this kind of work watching it.

The moulding planes are a real pleasure to use, with a nice fine shaving it's very therapeutic work...this is a good thing considering the amount of moulding I'll have to make for this door project! The finish left behind from the hollows is quite incredible, a smooth burnished feel that doesn't come across in photographs but really is something to behold. The entire process up to this point was probably no more than an hour for this piece just over two feet long.

With the profile complete I'll put it aside to get ready to cut some miters, this will be another important stage of the door project. Lots of mouldings with twice the miters. I found a great old Stanley miter hook at a yard sale last year for $15.00- a sweet deal for this appliance it needed a little work but otherwise was in real good shape.

These miter cuts are purely for practice so lengths are a non-issue. This being only a sample the miter will really show me how even my profile is along its length. From here it's to the shooting board to clean up the saw cut and I can finally see how it looks.

I'm using my new shooting board with my Lie Nielsen NO. 9 for this final step. I still didn't make a 45 degree fence for this new board so I used the block portion of my combination square...this worked out well and it's time to check the final fit.

I'm happy with this and am looking forward to getting into some quarter sawn White Oak later this week.
Stay tuned.