Nor’Easter Slamming Uxbridge

I love the sound of rain hitting my window next to where I sleep. I’ve got my wish in a big way right now. It’s slightly after midnight, 34 degrees and pouring down rain. Looking at my local radar Uxbridge, MA is socked in with heavy rain and winds gusting to 11 mph. It’s supposed to stay above freezing through the rest of the night.

That’s a good thing because just a few degrees cooler and we’d be buried to our eyeballs in deep snow instead of this rain. We’ve been blessed this Winter to be on the positive edge of a number of storms that two years ago would have been blizzards. We need the rain, not the frozen stuff.

Super Bowl Bound Patriots

Since moving to New England in October of 2015 I’ve adopted a new football team to watch, The New England Patriots. They were deadly rivals to my Seattle Seahawks when I spent 10 years in Portland, OR. I still follow Seattle but one they were eliminated from the playoffs my allegiance has stayed with the Patriots. It was interesting that one of the two games dropped by New England came at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks this year. 🙂

The Patriots soundly trounced the Pittsburgh Steelers last night in Foxboro, MA in Gillette Stadium, the home of the Patriots. Because of their 14-2 season record the Patriots won home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Now they head to Houston to face the Atlanta Falcons. I wouldn’t bet against the Patriots if I were you. LOL

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Decisions Decisions

As I get comfortable using only hand tools in my woodworking hobby I’m beginning to have a lot of fun. I suppose that’s why people do it. In years gone by I used to have a full power tool shop where I could knock out large, complex woodworking projects in no time at all. That was 25 years ago in Ferguson, MO, with a good size basement that I could use.

Today I’m in a 10′ x20′ apartment with limited resources and space. I can still enjoy the thrill of making things with my hands and be proud of the finished projects. I just need to scale down and utilize my greatest luxury, time. I have every minute of every day for the rest of my retirement life to get stuff done. As long as I’m still enjoying myself, I’ll continue in that line of work.

To that end I continue building my tool set to make projects easier and more precise with a few very good hand tools. I’ve been doing my homework concerning bench planes I can use for shooting boards to exact dimensions, totally square & straight. The longer the plane the better the results when using a plane shooting board, a homemade jig built to use a hand plane. Three manufacturers are in the running for my money, Woodriver, Veritas and Lie-Nielsen.

The Woodriver #62 Low Angle Jack Plane is 14″ Long, 2″ Blade, 4.6 lbs and sells for $200. It’s made in China.

The Veritas #62 1/2 Low Angle Jack Plane is 15″ Long, 2.1/4″ Blade, 5 lbs 12 oz and sells for $245. It’s made in Canada.

The Lee-Nielsen #62 Low Angle Jack Plane is 14″ Long, 2″ Blade, 4.55 lbs and sells for $245. It is made in Warren, MA USA.

Both the Veritas and Lie-Nielsen planes are high quality tools with the edge going to Lee Nielson. Here’s how they break down.

The Woodriver planes are highly touted by a number of online woodworking YouYube sites such as Rob Cosman at http://www.robcosman.com, and Shannon Rogers at  http://www.renaissancewoodworker.com. I respect the opinions of both these traditional woodworkers with decades of experience. Both run woodworking schools and review tools on their YouTube sites as well as on their online home pages.

Veritas is a Canadian company making and selling a large variety of tools for woodworkers. Their bench planes are of a very high quality and their plane blades are second to none. They are held to a high standard demanding a premium price. http://www.leevalley.com/us/HARDWARE/page.aspx?cat=1&p=41182

Lee-Nielsen tools are heirloom quality, made in Warren, Maine by American workers  that pride themselves in their designs, craftsmanship and quality. I have already purchased a low angle bronze block plane as well as a small router plane from them. Both are wonderful tools. I’ve gotten excellent service and fast delivery times on both products from this vendor.

So, which way am I leaning on my next big purchase? I buy American and love quality workmanship and customer service. The Veritas and Lie-Nielsen Jack planes are identically priced so that means for the $45 difference in price between the 3 competitors I’m sticking with Lie-Nielsen.

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First Handcut Dado

Today I spent some time enjoying my woodworking hobby. I received a long awaited mini-router plane from Lie-Nielsen late last night via UPS delivery. It would seem we’re about the last stop on their rounds each time something arrives. I was ready for bed at 9:30 p.m. so I just set the plane aside until later this morning.

There are many many ways to cut a dado, a sort of channel cut across the grain of a board. You usually see them in shelf units where the shelves seem slotted into the sidewalls. Those are dado joints. If the slot runs with the grain it’s called a groove.

One of the other ways to cut dado joints is with a router guided along a straight edge, like a fence. Still another method is using a table saw and an adjustable dado blade. Finally there’s just the use of a small saw and chisel.

I used my new hand router plane which is more or less a right angled chisel that you can adjust for depth. It’s a very basic tool but extremely accurate. This was the very first time I’d ever used one. I’ve watched dozens of YouTube videos to get the general idea on its use but there’s nothing like hands-on experience to learn the ropes. Developing the skills to do the job quickly takes repetition and experience.  I’ll get there soon enough as I’m a quick learner.

My first attempt turned out well, taking little cuts before going deeper until I met my final depth marking, a knife blade cut. The joint was so exact I had to tap it into place for a very snug fit. Now I need to do 7 more just like that one to get my new shelf unit completed. Practice, practice, practice. They say it makes perfect work! 🙂

My First Attempt – Success!

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Let It Begin

flag    I couldn’t help myself, I watched the inauguration yesterday! It sort of dominated the airways if you know what I mean. It is, after all, a part of our history here in these United States of America.

I don’t understand the need to march in the streets, protest and then destroy property while you riot. Who wins when you get arrested for violent acts because you don’t agree with political candidates? Great, now you’ve got a police record! Are the people marching against the newly elected presidents the same people who got out to campaign for their candidate? Did you even vote?

Our country is turning into a bunch of whiners. Would you like a little cheese with that whine? I had my supermarket fruit & veggie man tell me yesterday that  he planned to attend a local demonstration against president Trump. He didn’t feel Mr. Trump had the qualifications to be our president. Hello, he was sworn in yesterday! The time to support your candidate is before they lose. Donald J. Trump hasn’t spent 24 hours as our legally elected president and you already want him impeached? That’s ridiculous! Give the guy a chance to screw up before you go out and march to run him out of town on a rail. I had my podiatrist, a Canadian citizen, tell me yesterday that he’s ready to go back to Canada because he dislikes Donald Trump so much. Obviously he can’t vote for our president so it might be better if he leaves.

I voted for Donald Trump. I voted for Barack Obama, twice. I voted for both the Bush family and I even voted for Bill Clinton. I’m an independent voter who makes a decision on a candidate and then backs off and lets him rule with my full support. Give the president a chance! I don’t agree with half the stuff President Obama did but what he did do was to drag this country through a terrible period in our history. Give president Trump a chance! He might surprise you and make America great again! And please, stop whining!

Clean Clean Clean Volume 2

A few days ago I put up a post talking about handling all the sawdust I generate by using power tools inside my tiny apartment. I knew there would be a wet/dry shop vacuum needed in the near future. Little did I realize how near. While shopping in my local Koopmans Lumber/Hardware store I talked about my needs with an expert salesman that I’ve worked with before. I know he’s willing to go the extra mile to fulfill my needs so I asked him about Shop Vac brand wet/dry vacuums. He just happened to have a great selection that included the perfect sized 6 gallon 3 hp model with a nice assortment of attachments. The 8 ft long hose was particularly attractive for reaching to the vacuum ports of my two benchtop power tools, including my newly completed router table.

Before long that salesman was checking the warehouse availability of that model and to my delight he had one in stock. He headed back to fetch one while I began checking out at the front cash register. It only took him a few minutes to join me up front with my new Shop Vac, an American made product I might add. Their sale price of $54.95 matched the best online price at Amazon.com and I took it straight home, no need for the two day free shipping. I always buy locally when I can, even if the price is slightly higher than online. In this case I got a good deal from my mom & pop store.

Now I can drill the 1 1/4″ hole in my router table’s dust port I built into the unit. No more spraying sawdust all over my apartment. Yea! With all the other attachments included I can clean my hardwood floors and the two rugs in my apartment. This Shop Vac comes with 4 caster wheels built into the 6 gallon canister so I can pull it around just like a canister vacuum. The slip-on foam filter is removable and washable. I’m happy! 🙂

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Growing Up with Norm & Roy

I was born into a family of Carpenters and Contractors. I’m referring to my father, who built houses by himself from the ground up, as well as my PBS friends, Roy Underhill and Norm Abrams. Roy built stuff using old hand tools while Norm used the latest in power tools. Norm started out with the This Old House series with Bob Vila. He was the on site carpenter doing all the hard work while Bob Vila just ran his mouth. Norm finally broke away from This Old House to start his own show, The New Yankee Workshop. Norm is from Massachusetts and filmed his show in the New England area.

At the same time Norm was doing his thing Roy Underhill built his own little empire on PBS with his Woodwright’s Shop, the longest running “How To” show in history. It always amazed me how Roy could build a complete project using only hand tools in a half hour episode. Roy’s bubbling, overly enthusiastic personality was contagious. Born in 1950 Roy is just a year younger than me so we could relate to him. Roy continues to teach Woodworking classes at his Woodwright’s School in North Carolina.

Roy Underhill

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Norm Abrams

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I still enjoy watching their original shows via YouTube. There’s still a lot I can learn from watching how they went about their craft, whether it was done with power tools or hand tools. Thank you Norm & Roy.

Clean Clean Clean

If you’re going to have an indoor woodworking shop in a 10′ x 20′ room you’re going to have to do a lot of cleaning. I woke up this morning with a plan, use my router, mounted on its plunge base, and guide it along my new dado jig designed to rout housing joints in wood. A housing joint is the British equivalent term to a dado in American English. I’m working on my new bathroom shelf unit and I need to rout 4 dado slots in the vertical sidewalls for the two center shelves. Combined with the unit’s bottom shelf that generates 3 shelves inside the cabinet and the open top shelf as well. It’s a simple design that shouldn’t require any nails or glue to pull off.

I’ll be adding two cleats to the top & bottom of this shelf unit that will be mating with their opposite French cleats affixed to the bathroom wall above my toilet. I’m using 3M Command Stem fasteners instead of using any nails or screws. I’ve downloaded a similar design I found on Google Images so you get the idea.

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Baptisms Are The Best

It’s always an honor to be a witness to a child being baptised in our church. It’s one reason I always carry my camera gear and sit in the 2nd row up front. I get a clear view of all those special occassions that I want to capture for my church. In a way I’m known to most of our congregation as the photographer who sits up front. LOL Some have grown to know me simply as Bob!

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Living With Imperfection

I’m a practical woodworker of German lineage. What that means is that time and effort are more important than getting things perfect the first time. In the past I’ve built woodworking shops with all power tools that would produce super accurate cuts that were perfectly flat, plumb & straight. That kind of equipment was expensive, requiring a lot of room and time to calibrate everything.

I’m 67 now, living in a 10′ x 20′ one room apartment with elderly tenants on both sides of me. I’m forced to scale things down because of finances, space and the noise and dust that power tools produce. Before there were power tools there were hand tools that were used by craftsmen that produced beautiful work that lasted for hundreds of years. Although my intention is not to make heirloom quality furniture anymore I do want a project to be pleasing to the eye, hand and sense of accomplishment. I take pride in my work.

The one asset I have in abundance is time. I have every minute of every day to accomplish my projects. Because of my limited budget a finished project can, potentially, take months. While I wait for funds to become available for specialty tools and supplies I busy myself with making my own tools. Things like saw tables, router tables and jigs for all my work can be made economically and in a relatively short period of time.

In the past 30 days I’ve built myself a nice router table, two shooting boards, and two bench hooks. All these dramatically speed up the accuracy and quality of my tasks. Because of the shooting boards I can cut close to marking and sawing lines, knowing that I intend to use those shooting boards and my block plane to finish the edges to my final dimensions in short order. With this philosophy I don’t sweat the small stuff. I can own a powered jigsaw table instead of a larger, noisier, more expensive table saw that utilizes carbide circular saw blades to produce exact finished cuts. Now, that comes later in the workflow.

As time progresses I will add more hand tools to my arsenal that will help speed up the finishing edges. I have my eye on larger, more versatile hand planes that will cost me a month’s spending money. I’m already saving for the one I want. Before retirement in 2010 my weekly take home pay would allow such purchases every week. Now it takes one to two months to save for my toys. Now, on retirement, I have time on my side, learning to patiently wait for the right time and place to pull the trigger on my next tool. It’s all good! The only question now is which toy/tool to buy/make next? Will it be that Lie-Nielsen bronze #4 1/2 finishing plane or the new workbench butcher block top for the larger, more solid workbench I lust over? Only time will tell! 🙂

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