Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where in the World Is Sasquatch Woodworking?

My buddy Mike sent me this pic from a recent climbing trip at Whiskey Peak, NV.  Had to post it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Workbench Part VIII - Top and Shelf

The build goes on...albeit slowly.  However it is a nice milestone in that I finally made it to the lumber yard to buy the wood for the top of the bench.  This has been something I kept putting off but finally I had a nice Friday afternoon to head up to Moxon Hardwoods  only 10 minutes from my house. 

Besides carrying some amazing local hard and softwoods, they are the largest supplier of Australian hardwood flooring in the country.  The company is actually Australian owned but just happen to have an outpost in Portland, OR.  After getting an awesome tour around the facility the salesmen showed me a huge pallet of 6/4 (1-1/2") thick hard maple slabs.  Each slab was 7 to 12" in width and 9' long.  These things are heavy.  I picked up seven boards which should give me enough to make a top that is 24" wide x 3" thick x 7' long.

A little while before getting the wood for the top I was able to cut a few slats for the bottom shelf from the milled pallet wood.  I like the look it gives...reclaimed character for sure.  I've got a few more to finish up but it should go pretty fast.  Until the next time, stay happy and get your woodworking on.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Workbench Part VII - Bench Bolts and Shelf

I've been able to make a little progress on the bench and it has been nice but I wish I was further along. In the last few weeks I have glued up the short sides of the bench with the short rails and then pegged the joint with a bit of oak dowel rod.  The peg doesn't add a lot of extra strength but looks good.  Once the short sides were glued up it was time to figure out how to attach the long rails.  I had received a nice gift certificate to Lee Valley Tools ( from Moms and Pops for the birthday and was  perusing their website for ideas when I came across a product called knock-down bench bolts.  Basically it's a long hex bolt that goes through the leg and then captures the rail with an embedded cylindrical nut.  The diagram on the left from their web site shows how it works.  When I read the caption it made me giggle like a 10-year old boy.  "They said butt" I said in my head.  Ah...some things never get old.  These offer a nice option if I ever need to break the bench down and move it somewhere.  It took a while to drill through the legs and center the hole just right for the nut but I finally got it work with a little persuasion.  The pic below shows how the bolt looks on the outside of the leg.  You can also see the pegs that are holding the short rails in.  All in all I'm really happy with how it works and feels.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...this thing is solid.  I had Stella get on the rails and jump up and down just to prove it to myself.

After getting the legs all bolted together I started deconstructing an old pallet that I had brought in to the garage to dry off.   When Alex surprised me with a table saw for our 10th anniversary it was delivered on a nice big pallet.  And rather than chucking it I decided to put it to good use. 

Pallet wood has great character but it is a pain in the ass to take apart.  They use screw shank nails and those things don't want to come out.  As you can see there were quite  a few nails in the boards I did and I didn't even mess with the main oak frame.  Each one of those pieces had a minimum of 24 nails in various states.  I'm not that much of a masochist to try and tackle those.

After salvaging all of the boards that I could it was time to plane them down to a usable thickness of 1/2" to fit on the rabbet that I had designed in for the shelf.  As careful as I was in removing the nails I still missed one and it knicked the planer knives pretty good.  Might be worth investing in one of those wand-type metal detectors. 

After planing everything down it became apparent that I was going to be just short on covering the whole shelf area.  Oh well, I'm sure I can wrangle up something somewhere to make up the difference.  I'm leaving for Bogota, Colombia on Tuesday for a week long work trip so the bench will have to wait.   Happy woodworking and until next time!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Bit of Awesome

I thought I would do a separate post on the pure awesomeness I received on my birthday.  Alex surprised me with a "Woodworking With Sasquatch" t-shirt designed by my good buddy Keith.  I couldn't have asked for a cooler, more personal gift.  Thanks you guys!

The Workbench Part VI - Oh My Mortise

It's been far too long since my last post but I have been working ever so slowly on the many mortises for this workbench.  As tedious as it's been, I really feel that my chisel work has improved in hollowing out the 12 mortises.  For each one, I was able to take out the majority of the material on the drill press with a forstner bit.  The trickiest part was supporting the legs on the drill press table.  I've added making a drill press table to the never ending list of projects.

Once the bulk of the mortise is drilled out, the next step is to square the inside walls to accept the tenons.  This is where the true workout started.  I was really wailing on the chisel with the mallet to get through the end grain sections.  At first it felt like I would never finish as each mortise was taking thirty minutes or more.  However I got a little better and by the end I was able to get a 90ยบ face on the first or second try.

The real trick here as well is to have a super sharp chisel so it doesn't tear the grain up.  I can get my hand tools pretty sharp but I feel like there's still room for improvement.

After finally getting all of the mortises finished up I was able to do a dry fit of the bench and I must say I feel proud to have got this far.  This thing is heavy and should have no problem withstanding wailing on it with a hammer and chisel.

Also I had to get an "action" shot for a work profile and Alex was nice enough to snap a picture of me planing one of the short rails.  Next up is pegging the short rails to the legs and then installing some knockdown bench bolts on the long rails so that the bench could be taken apart and moved if ever needed.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Worbench Part V - Mortise Layout and Long Rail Milling

Happy New Years everyone!  Been a little while since the last post but I've had some time to get back into the shop now that we're back into the usual patterns.  The holiday break was very nice with Stella and I taking a daddy/daughter trip back to see the grandparents and Alex making over Stella's room in our absence.  We had one surprised kid when we got back!

Back in the shop, I got to work laying out the mortises for the short rails.  I used the tenons I had already cut to help lay them out and referenced everything from the bottom of the legs.  There is one mortise on the wide side of each leg for the bottom short rail and one for the upper short rail. 

With the short rail mortises laid out, my next step was to mill down the lumber for the long rails.  The wood had been acclimating in the shop for about a month so was ready to go.  I did an initial milling one evening, bring everything to about 1/4" of final dimensions. After letting them rest for another couple of days I milled them to final dimension and cut them to length.  The next step will be to cut the long rail tenons and finish laying out the mortises.

It's kind of slow going but I'm feeling pretty confident that this bench is going to last a lifetime.  Looking at that pile of wood in the last picture I think to myself, "Man that is just for the base of this thing!"  It's got to weigh close to 150-200 lbs which means this bench will be able to take a beating and keep on going.  Talk to you soon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Workbench Part IV - Short Rail Tenons and Legs

Happy holidays!  What better way to celebrate Christmas then to sneak off into the shop for a bit and do some woodworking.  I left last time with the short rails a little wonky after the first milling.  Each rail had two faces still flat and square so I started the final milling with those.  I ran them through the planer and then finally the table saw which thankfully resulted in four perfectly square short rails.   I cut these to length (21-1/2") on the miter fence and went about laying out the tenons. 

Now the tenons can be really any dimension you want as long as it mechanically makes sense.  I already decided to deviate from the downloaded plan by making the short rails beefier but I stuck with the plan dimensions in making the tenons two inches long.  The structural shoulders ended up 1/2" deep while the cosmetic top shoulders I set at 1/4".  I used a marking gauge to scribe a 2" line all along the rail  from both ends.  After that I set up the dado stack in the table saw which allows for a wider continuous cut.  At 3/4" it still took three passes for each face...3 x 4 x 8 = 96 passes.  Let's just say it took a little while.  The wife stopped in while I was cutting these tenons and took a couple of action shots.  I'm wearing my most festive red and white checkered shirt.  Kind of a ginger Santa Claus look going when you get down to it...

After the tenons had been cut on the table saw the faces were a little rough so I took them over to the bench hook and used my shoulder plane to flatten them. 

With all of these finished up I thought it fitting to stack everything together as a small sense of accomplishment.  Note the wooden mallet behind the shoulder plane...a most excellent Christmas gift from the wife.

The last thing I did for the day was cut the workbench legs to length and put a nice chamfer on the bottom.  This will prevent the workbench from catching if I ever need to scoot it around on the floor.  The daughter and I leave for a trip to Kansas tomorrow to see the folks so I plan to start milling the mortises in the legs when we get back.