Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Favorite Plane by Scott Meek Woodworks

I have had this plane for awhile, but have yet to publicly give major kudos to the man that made it.  When I first got the plane, I immediately broke it by hitting the wedge too hard to seat the blade and cracking the pin.  I was mortified and after calling Scott, so was he.  Even though it was clearly my fault, he offered to fix it or make me a new plane.  Mind you, this plane is not cheap and yes, I know many woodworkers who make their own wood body planes.  Here's where the value comes in.  I have quite a few metal bodies planes that function extremely well.  Some are vintage Bedrock, Stanley and Sargent planes, other are Veritas.  Why Veritas?  I've used Lie Nielsen planes at Woodworking in America and, while they are very sweet, I am much more impressed with the innovative approach that Lee Valley/Veritas take toward making planes.  They really just make them better than the old vintage planes.  Lie Nielsen are the cream of the crop for making beefed up replicas of the old planes, but they don't innovate, at least as far as I've seen.

What makes a Scott Meek Woodworks plane stand out?  Exceptional quality.  The plane arrived sharp.  While I couldn't bring myself to actually take Scott up on his offer to fix or make a new plane, I did manage to fix the break myself.  I drilled a small hole, used a very small C-clamp and dripped some epoxy in and let it set.  Luckily, when I went back to use it, the wedge still fit properly.  The ergonomics of this smoother is fantastic.  The design of the plane makes long sessions very comfortable and no matter what grain or wood I have tackled there is NO tear out.  I can barely see any gap at the mouth.  I've had the chance to use other wooden body planes, including Ron Hock's Krenov.  Not even close.  From what I've heard within the internet woodworking community, the others that have bought Scott's planes seem to feel the same.  I may make a plane at some point, but I don't really feel the pull to make any of my tools.  The money spent on this purchase was money very well spent.  Thanks, Scott!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Art Deco and Bent

At the end of my last post you can see the hot pipe bending set up I built.  My buddy, Ken, gave me some bed rails someone was getting rid of off a waterbed.  They're 1 inch plywood and are perfect for an application like this.  I built the bending rig for some upcoming light fixtures I'm planning on making for the house.  Two of the fixtures definitely will have curves.  I'm hoping to use some of my old growth Fir to make all these.  

Before I tackle a specific project I wanted to get some practice in.  I don't like to be too wasteful, so didn't want to bend just to bend.  So, I decided to see how many Christmas presents I could get out of the experience.  Ken had taken down a Russian Olive tree and noticed the ends of the logs were a deep chocolate color, so he dropped a couple firewood size logs off for me to cut up.  It's actually quite pretty.  It seems to continually darken, but is nowhere near as dark as the ends of the log were.

I quarter sawed the log to yield around 13 slats approximately 3/16th inch at the bandsaw.  I currently am running a 3/4" Laguna Resaw King on the saw.  It produced really nice resawn boards.  After cutting out a basic design from heavy craft paper, I transferred that to all the boards and started the rough shaping, again, at the bandsaw.  This time I switched to a 1/8 inch Timberwolf and changed out my regular Carter blade guides to the Carter guide for curve cutting.  It works really well and allows you to really ride the back of the blade when cutting a curve.  After soaking overnight, which I don't think is necessary, I started bending.  

I had a pattern on a piece of plywood I was trying to match.  I wasn't clamping any of the bends to help retain that specific shape, but I was trying to approximate it as close as possible by over bending to account for spring back.  I then let them dry completely.  Because of that, none of my spoons or "salad tongs" are exactly the same.  Each was finished shaped on the Rigid oscillating drum and spindle sander.  I had several of the original slats that weren't large enough for the pattern and a few more that I bent too fast or too much and split.  

Here is an example of a set.  

While I was waiting for the spoons to dry I also started up a project for my wife, Sylvia.  We have been using a Senseo coffee machine for a couple of years.  Unfortunately in the United States, Senseo has been eclipsed by the Kuerig.  It's the whole Beta-Max / VHS thing from my childhood.  Beta-Max was a superior platform, but VHS caught on first.  I personally don't like the Kuerig, because of all the plastic that ends up in land fills.  Also, it's not nearly as good a cup of coffee as the Senseo.  Anyway, to the point, we bought a little "5" cup (two of ours) cone style coffee maker.  Not as good a cup of coffee, but I'm not willing to deal with a plunger pot each day.  The following show the project from rough sketch to some full scale drawing to the finished piece.  
My tablesaw sled and the Grrripper push block were invaluable in cutting the little parts.  The faces are rabbited at angles to accept the end pieces.  Figuring out the compound angles was a challenge.  I don't have a trig calculator anymore.  I managed to find this site for a behind-the-scenes math solution.  
Although I can't say I'm a fan completely of every genre, I do like more elements of specific genres, Art Deco being one.  
I'm still debating adding little birch feet.