Friday, May 18, 2012

In the Field

Field Notes- National Crop Limited Edition

So before I even begin, let me say this post isn’t really wood working related. This is just me venting some thoughts on how cool I think Field Notes are.
Field Notes?
C’mon- you know.
Those little pocket ledgers that people, who still remember how to use writing utensils can sometimes be seen using away from their home office or place of work. The place you jot down ideas or sketch little sketches. Maybe a mental note or two, a doodle or really, what ever. Grocery list? Cut list? Hardware list? Sure, they all work.
So yeah, I think Field Notes are cool and this latest edition is the cat’s a**.
A product both I and my 6 and 7 year old kids can enjoy. My daughter already told me she wants the Neon Summer  Camp pack. That alone is reason enough to mention it.

Throw one in the tool chest.

My latest order is the National Crop, limited edition series. ” … a custom-boxed set of six notebooks paying tribute to America’s top six crops; corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton and sorghum. ”
( yeah I know what you’re saying, what the hell is sorghum?)
Well not only did I get the six ledgers, but they come in this great little box with a badge and a poster and thrown into the parcel was a Field Notes calendar for the wood shop wall. Sweet!
Well, that’s all I really wanted to say- Field Notes. They’re cool.
Back to the bench!
This last shot is a little pocket, wood working book a friend gave me a few years back.
It’s  books like this that inspired the brand. I keep it close, just like my Field Notes-Cheers!



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Workshop Appliances

Workshop Appliances

I think anyone who uses hand tools on a regular basis would benefit from some simple work bench appliances. Whether you build your own or purchase them, they really make a difference in the wood shop.
A shooting board. The most effective way to trim the ends of stock, 1-in. and under. You can sneak up on a fit that is almost unachievable for any power tool. 1/1000th of an inch if that is what’s required. A simple jig that will elevate the precision of your work.
A shop made miter box. In recent years there has been a lot of wood workers seeking out antique miter boxes on the inter-webs. Reclaiming and refurbishing vintage models when really, a basic miter box can be made with three pieces of wood. Another invaluable tool for the wood shop.
A bench hook in all its simplicity is probably the first appliance you should have. For holding work or again for small miters, the bench hook is never far from my bench top.
A miter-shooting board. A luxury? Not at all. Again, an accurate way of trimming cabinet parts and fine tuning moldings.
I spent the last few days making the four mentioned appliances for a gentleman in the Ottawa area and thought I’d share the results. Nothing fancy, no special attachments or Space age materials. Just some cabinet grade cherry plywood for the bases with some quarter sawn cherry for all of the hardwood parts. A shooting board with miter attachment, a miter-shooting board, a miter box and finally a bench hook.
I’m packaging them up this afternoon and they’ll be en route to their new home where I hope they’ll assist a hand tool wood worker in his journey through working wood. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two is better than one.

Veritas Dual Marking Gauge

When I first starting using the new, Veritas Dual Marking Gauge late last fall I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually use both sides of the gauge at once. Up until that point I used a single type gauge. Through the first week in use I generally used only one of the adjustable rods and it wasn’t until I made it a mental point to try using both rods that the fog lifted.
Two is truly better than one. Once I trained my brain to think about the dual settings I found myself using them both all of the time. Well at least whenever it was called for in the work.
For stringing, this thing is the cat’s meow. Set the desired width and scribe both sides of the line. Perfect.
For grooves and dovetails as well as most of my mortise and tenon work, the dual marking gauge is the way to go. It saves me a step or two and with all things  that need to be measured, that saved step usually means one less step to make an error.
The gauge has a large reference surface that makes scribing lines easy and effective with large brass screws to lock things in place.

Optional Shaft Clamp

Just recently, Veritas introduced a small accessory to this already excellent tool.   The optional shaft clamp. This little clamp slides over the rods and will lock a setting in place. This was extremely useful just the other day when I was setting some stringing into a few furniture components. The stringing was all the same width but the offset from the edge changed.
The shaft clamp held the width of the cutters in place while I adjusted the offset from the gauge body. Nice!
It’s always the little details that make good tools great and Veritas has done it again with the Dual Marking Gauge and optional Shaft Clamp.
Try one out for yourself and you’ll wonder how you ever got along with only one!