Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Craftsman Moulder Sharpening Tricks

You can spend $$$ on jigs and stones and I know the edge is better because of it but by how much?  I believe in the law of diminishing returns and feel taking 2 min to get 75% is better than taking 10 to get 80%.  With the exception of planer blades I just hold all of mine by hand and only use two stones.

The pair of stones I use are both diamond, about 2 1/2 x 6 inches and come in 'coarse' and 'fine'.  If I had to guess 600 and 1500 grit respectively.  I like the diamond stones because they stay flat and need so very little care, just wipe them down.  They were sold as water stones but I use a sharpening oil.  Water causes rust and I normally sharpen on the bed of my tablesaw. 

Cutting face: Carefully hold the blade at the angle you want on the coarse and draw it backward over the face of the stone.  Lift at the end of each stroke.  This is the only 'skilled' part of the process.  You are sharpening by hand so it isn't like you can wreck the edge in one pass.  Check often to see that you are getting a polish over the full edge.  If the cutting face glints you need to keep going.  Move on to the back but return and give the cutting edge a few more strokes on the fine stone and the last swipe should be lifted up onto the cutting edge slightly to give a last micro-bevel.  I find I only need to hone the cutting face every 3 or 4 backside sharpenings.

Backside:  This is where most of the work is.  Lay the blade flat on the stone and move in a circular fashion until the polish extends all the way to the cutting edge.  This can take a while the first time depending on how the blade was made.  However once you get it flat from that point on all you have to do in normal sharpening is hit the backside on the stone and you are ready to cut.  Once to the edge move to the fine stone, hone the cutting edge to remove the bur and polish the backside.  This step will go much quicker.  I also sharpen hand plane blades this way.

I know sharpening purists will feel I am cutting corners but I am a practical man and this works for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

iPad Stand

The video of this project is below:

I did this for my Grandmother who loves her iPad.  Browsing the web on a tablet is great but it can be a pain to clutch it for a long period of time.  Using it flat on your lap requires arching your feet up to get the legs level, something that gets tiring.  This very simple little device (a picture frame in essence) allows the use of the built in cover stand on right your lap.  This means you can watch with feet flat on the floor and your arms resting in your lap.  This is a simple and useful tool for anyone with mobility issues and is darn convenient for all who like to sit and browse.

I built my stand from scrap I had around the shop.  This is a great project for eating up those leftovers that are too big to toss but too small to be useful.  I toyed with gluing together then planing down the center in order to build in to nice contrasting wood but in the end decided on the oak/aromatic cedar combo.  I felt the scent, activated but lap and device heat, would be a pleasant addition. 


When getting the groove for your board cut, sneak up on the final width because it will be dificult tighten it up later.  Remember because you flip the board around and cut on the saw twice any movement of the fence is doubled.

It might be worth taking a scrap of the right thickness all the way out to the proper width then once you are happy run the edge banding you have prepared.  That way instead of working out you start at the proper width and work in.  No chance of over cutting that way.

If you cut the groove too wide build up the thickness of your center panel with masking tape then after the glue dries carefully cut the tape back to the edge of your frame.  No one will see the tape in the joint, it will be our secret ;-)

Do not try and plow out the boards after you miter them, miter first then cut the 45 on the ends.  Plowing them first leads to an unstable surface for your push stick to hold securely.

When cutting the center panel sneak up on the measurement with a few multiple cuts.  This will ensure that the board is the proper size.  If you cut it too small it will still work provided you still get adequate groove insertion.

Planer Snipe Tricks

There is always comes a day when you have cut a board to length but forgot it needed more planing.  How to do it without sniping the ends of your special board?  I personally use the sacrificial stick method shown in the video below:

Some extra tips:

Where possible you might try to overlap the boards to assure the infeed and outfeed rollers can't jump.

Run 2 or 3 sacrificial boards in the planer loop to avoid that moment when you are scrambling to grab one as the end of your good board slides inside.

If you miss it, let it go!  It is just snipe after all, not worth losing fingertips over.  If you missed timed it don't try to frantically jam one in, let it go.  LET IT GO!

You only need to bother with it the last pass of each side.  The last pass is enough to remove the snipe unless your machine is cutting particularly bad.

Remember to adjust the rollers.  This trick is only to help that last whisper, not save you from a machine that hogs out a massive 1/8 deep snipe.  Grab the manual and a straight edge and have at it.

For those interested my main planer is an older Makita 2012N 12 inch with the two sided disposable blades.  It has been a workhorse for better than a decade now.  In the video you can hear that it is in need of some bearings and occasionally the chain drive binds and releases leaving marks on the boards.  For the most part I live with this.  About once a year I crank it all the way down and wipe the feed rollers with some solvent to get the gunk off.  This seems to help greatly with intermittent feeding issues.  My secondary planer is a 5hp Rockwell 18 inch that scares the crap out of me because it is missing parts like the chip breaker.  I hate standing in front of a planer when you can see the blades spinning, but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Toy Table Saw Plans

My little boy has been 'cutting' things on an imaginary table saw for some time now.  When I was thinking of gifts he might like for Christmas one toy popped into mind, a wooden table saw.  I admit I never searched for plans or anything, I just built one but it occurred to me that others might like to see how I built the unit and maybe see some plans I drew up for it.  The entire unit can be constructed from one 2x4 foot 1/2 plywood off cut so it is a great 'build from scraps' project.  The one I made my boy is birch hardwood dunnage from our sawmill.  It is the twisted bark covered thin/narrow boards that can't be sold.  It took a lot of them and some glue up but once again we salvaged something of beauty from the trash.  As the suggestion of my wife I will make a start to finish overview video of the project not from my initial hand built example but from my plans.  With luck that will be up soon as it is a priority for me.  Until then I thought you might want to take a peak at my rough plans.  Video and detailed assembly pictures to follow.

 End Plans

I like the little bracket feet but they are optional.

Side Plans
 It is important to get the holes centered precisely on both sides, take your time.  Also the doweling must spin freely so sand/size hole accordingly.

Top Plan

I recommend setting the proper depth on a Circular Saw and plunge cutting this carefully from the back side.  Use jigs and saw stops if needed.  Match the blade to the opening rather than the opening to the blade.

Blade Plan:

I like using a dark hardwood but 3/8th ply works too.  The cut list has the blade cut from the same 1/2 birch plywood as the rest of the saw.

Extra Parts Plan:

The 'blade backer' is simply to stabilize the blade but you will need multiples to keep the dowel from moving side to side.  I put them on the outside on my original but thought it would look better inside the saw case.  Set their placement after setting the top to provide adjustment.

Cutting Diagram:

Just some ideas as to how to map it out on a 2x4 foot sheet.  If you cut the screw cleats and blade from the scrap then all you will need is doweling.