Friday, March 13, 2009

Back in the shop again!

I'm back in the shop again, determined to finish my workbench. My family is out of town and I have the whole house to myself, thus the extended shop time.

Last night I got the lumber for the top mostly ready for glue-up. One question I've had for myself is how to deal with the length of the boards making up the top. I've discovered, the hard way, that cutting them all to final length before glue up is a mistake, because no matter how careful you are in glue up, they never quite line up perfectly. I'm sure this is due to a failing in me, but I'm going to try it a different way this time.

I left each board past the first four boards about 5" too long. The front boards all have some kind of piecing together going on, either from the wagon vise or the plane stop, or both. These I'm going to have to take extra special care in gluing up anyway. I figure (at least now it sounds like a good idea) that once I get these four boards put together, and I glue the rest together roughly equally overhanging on both ends, I will use the front boards as a guide for my sawing the back 10 boards to length.

I'm sure it won't be as easy as it describes, and I may end up with a slanted end, but all I can do is the best that I can.

When I was cutting the boards last night I had fun using my Disston D8 in a plastic crap Stanley miter box. I put a sacrificial board underneath and just cut away. I first started trying to use my new (c. 1870's) Moulson Bros. back saw, but it was way too slow cutting through a 7/4 board of hard maple. The Disston did it like a dream.

This morning I cut the groove for the wagon vise into my board #4. I used my 1/2" Butcher pig-sticker chisel and my "Persuader" mallet. (at least that's my name for it) Just for fun I weighed my mallet because I really began to feel the weight of it after pounding for half-an-hour. It's 2 lbs 6 oz, with the vast majority of the weight in the head, as it should be. It's fantastic!

So, after being so successful with that one, I went to cut the groove in the #1 board. That's when I realized that I had cut the groove incorrectly in the board. You see, the chop that will slide in the groove is not symmetrical on the top and bottom of the tab that slides in the groove. There's more below the groove than above it to help make sure the vise is able to direct the most amount of force in the right place on the chop.

At first I thought I could switch #1 and #4 boards and turn 4 upside down and make it 1. Whoops, this is where my cutting boards to length before I absolutely had to screwed me. #4 is 54 inches long because of the gap for the planing stop. #1 is 60 inches and is the front board. Since my board stretcher doesn't work, I couldn't make a 54-inch board work for a 60-inch space. And the one spare board I had turns out to be twisted enough to enter a dance contest. So, it was off to the lumber store. I made a quick call to the Hardwood Store of North Carolina (good people) who agreed to whip up a couple (I won't be without a good spare this time) pieces of s4s hard maple to my dimensions. I drove out there and was able to pick up the wood right before they closed and get home.

So, after dinner, it was cutting another groove, getting it fettled and working (this time I used an old candle to wax up the groove and that helped immensely). Next was to drill the hole for the dog in the chop. I got that done with the hole being only a little crooked. Good enough. The last thing I need to do before glue up is drill a hole in the end grain of the end block that will hold the collar for the wagon vise screw. It has to be a 1.25" hole 2.75" deep through hard maple end grain. We'll see if I can figure this out, or I'll have to re-make the end block by cutting the hole first, and then glueing up the block afterwards.

Tomorrow I let you know what I figure out and I'll include the pictures I took today.


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