Thursday, June 22, 2017

Project Update: Some New Old Tools

Every once in a while, I pause to clean out the shop and collect some "new" tools. Well, this past week has been one of those pauses for a variety of reasons. First, I've been slowing things down a bit. In the past, I've felt rushed to get the first instrument out (yeah, I know, it's been over two years) and just about 100% of my screwups are directly related to rushing through without thinking about things, planning, reviewing Mr. Miller's eBook most Excellent or asking for help and advice from the Master Builders.

Part of this slowing down process, at least for me, has been retooling the shop. When I first started woodworking, I was not building instruments. It just wasn't on my radar. So, I took a shotgun approach and bought up all of the tools and accessories I thought I would need. But, things tend to change over time, don't they? Even before putting a shop together, I was flipping through the newspaper during lunch one day (something I really never do) and saw that a guy was offering a guitar building class at the local community college. I signed up and quickly realized I could do what he and his students were doing on my own.

I then signed up with ADX Portland in order to use their amazing facilities. They really do have everything a maker would want or need. Except for dedicated space. They had lockers available (at an additional expense, of course), but there was a one-year waiting list to get one. After carrying wood and other supplies in and out for a couple of months, I started looking at Craigslist to see if I could buy a couple of tools to put in the garage. The rest is, as they say, history.

Of course, when you buy from Cool Craigslist Guy, you get what you pay for. Over time, I transitioned from, for example, a crappy, little Delta contractor's table saw I was chasing around the shop during cuts to a Riyobi BT3000 wondermachine to my current brand, spankin' new Grizzly. Building this instrument has helped me focus on what's important - and what's not. When you're building fine instruments, saving money is not a factor, so I had to shift my thinking in this regard. Now, I purchase tools with the longue durée in mind.

And this brings us around to the latest acquisition period. But, it's not only about acquisition; it's also about purging that which no longer suits. A good example of this is my lathe.  I knew I would eventually need a lathe of sufficient length to carve the legs of any instrument stand I might make, so I purchased one I thought would accommodate some pretty lengthy stock.

As you can see, I opted for the cheapie. I purchased it from Cool Craigslist guy early in the shop building experience for $40 and added a stand for another $50. It will take 39 1/4" stock with a turning radius of 12". I thought it would work just fine. Then, I tried to use it. When I tightened the tailpiece, the entire thing bent in the middle. Good grief. I quickly realized my Mr. Thrifty mentality was, once again, working against me. Fortunately, I've committed to the long-term mindset, so this one is going out the door and a better one has already arrived:

As you can see, a steel pipe supports the bottom. No bendy bendy moving forward.

Other tools of note that I've recently acquired are a Lie-Nielsen Skewed (Right-handed) Rabbet Plane; this will be helpful when trimming up the various rabbets required by your typical harpsichord.

The plane is used, yet it's also an heirloom-quality piece that I will pass down to the grandkids. Along with this, I picked up a 1-ton press and some nifty handtools, all (including the plane) from Cool Craigslist Guys. The drawknife in the older handtools photo below is razor sharp and the guy only charged me $18 for it. Thanks, Cool Craigslist Guy.

When I purchased the caliper, he threw in the screwdriver for free.

Finally, it was wood processing night at Tortuga Early Instruments Worldwide Headquarters a couple of nights ago. Over the years, I've managed to acquire lots and lots of log pieces. In my effort to declutter the shop, I realized these logs could be cut down now and stored, significantly reducing the amount of space they take up.

The photo above is a piece of apple being cut to size. The photos below illustrate the amount and variety of woods (redwood, cedar, maple, apple, and walnut) that were cut and what it looks like once it was stowed under a shelf.

What a difference a few cuts make.

The next time we speak, you will hear about the new lathe table/bench and my steam bending success. Once again, it's time to get on with building.

Until next time...

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