Monday, March 21, 2016

Project Update: The Do-Over Party Begins

As you know, I ditched the 6x6s for the Roubo workbench legs because I could not, for the life of me, get straight rip cuts set into the ends of them by hand. I was able to pick up a nice 12' 4x6 at Parr Lumber and have them cut it into four 36" pieces. It cost me an extra $2 for the additional chops, but I bit the bullet and absorbed the cost. Fortunately, the 4x6s are in much better shape than their 6x6s, so the benefits begin to accrue almost immediately.

With the legs procured, I continued the process of building a rip jig for the Laguna band saw sled that would allow me to cradle the legs in it for the dovetail cuts.

You can see 2" spacers being glued up in the photo above. When the first 4 1/8" cut is completed,

I'll flip the stick 90 degrees counter-clockwise and add the spacers to provide the correct height/protrusion for the cut.

I also changed the dovetail angle to 35 degrees. The shallower cut allows more space for the upcoming cuts to create the negative space and little ledge on the back side. Though I detailed this in my failed 6x6 attempt, I'll describe it in more detail as I proceed. I'll be making the first cuts tonight.

On a couple of completely unrelated notes, I received an Incra Miter Express table saw crosscut sled into the shop yesterday. This little sled is designed to accommodate any miter gauge, so I went ahead and mounted the Incra 1000HD to it. Once I got things calibrated, I ran some test cuts and it worked like a charm.

Of course, some of my luthier pals will tell me I'm wasting valuable blade real estate, but I was doing that with the old crosscut sled (the one I repurposed for the Laguna band saw), anyway. To them, I reply: What are my fingers worth? In the absence of a SawStop, this is the single best solution for avoiding kickback and not holding wood with my delicate, little fingies inches from the blade as I cut. Note the hold down clamp with the wheel handle. This is a good thing.

My wife is a life coach and held a two-day workshop in our home on Saturday and Sunday, so I was effectively banished until 5:00 p.m. both days. I took this time to explore a few flea markets and antique stores in the Portland Metro area. My primary discovery was that once the term "antique" is applied to an item, it immediately takes on a fine sheen of 22k gold that is undetectable by the human eye. Yeah, most of the tools I looked at were seriously overpriced, though I did pick up this nice hand drill for $10.

Something interesting, though, did happen to me during my explorations. As I viewed and touched and held the old tools and furniture in the various antique stores I visited, I began to have emotional reactions thinking about the people who put their blood, sweat and knowledge into the chairs and cabinets and toolboxes and hand planes before me.

I wondered about how they came to their levels of craftsmanship and if they supported families. I wondered whether they worked in a shop with other makers or worked alone and if they loved what they did or, like so many of us today, were simply stuck in a profession they did not enjoy.

I thought about how many of them might still be living and, if not, what stories their families tell about them. I wondered about what happened to their tools and if caring strangers have lovingly restored them for use in their own shops today.

These thoughts nearly brought me to tears several times, so I broke for some pub and grub to further reflect not only on what I'd seen but why I do what I do in the shop.

It was time well spent.

Until next time...

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