Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Planned upgrade to the Shop Drill Press

For some time I've been planning to build a woodworking table on my drill press. I knew I needed a fence and a good reference surface that would be wider than the standard metal working table that's on there. Today, browsing the Woodsmith site, Woodworking Online, I found a plan that provides all the features I require and makes the execution a snap.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dovetailed Box #4: Dulled Chisel and Mis-cuts

Last night I retreated to the shop to work on box #4. I hope to complete this and two others before the end of June. The first two joints went incredibly well, but joint number three has become an opportunity to learn.

Lately I've been cutting tails first, and this box is no exception. I checked the tails for square and fixed any that were off. Then I marked the pins using an Xacto knife (a recent Fine Woodworking review rated this as the best value in marking knives. The reviewer was right: an Xacto works brilliantly, especially compared to the mechanical pencil I had been using).

At this point I felt good. The pin layout looked great, with crisp lines. The waste areas were marked to prevent my making more tails where I needed pins. I had even caught an error made during initial layout, where I had marked the wrong side match up on the end piece. This could have been a disaster, resulting in an Escher box with two bottoms.

In fact, the first cut looked great: I had matched it exactly to the knife line and followed the inside edge of the marked pin exactly. A moment's satisfaction and I was ready to make the second cut. That's when I realized: I had cut on the wrong side of the knife line. I didn't cut waste. The joint was guaranteed to have a saw-width gap there, just waiting for repair.

I could have quit then, but I hate to stop work when I've just made a mistake. It leaves me sour, and depressed. So I calmed myself and planned out how to patch this with one of the waste pieces. Then I settled in to complete the pins. The rest of the night brought some challenges, but nothing as painful as that initial miscut. I finally had to stop when I realized the chisel was dull. I'm not sure how I managed it, but I must have knocked the cutting edge into the holdfast. There is visible flat spot on one side, but the rest of the edge looks good. Tonight I expect to be sharpening for a while to get that out. Now I wish I already had a grinder...

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Picture Problems

My service provider changed a server policy, stranding all of my previously published blog pictures in a location that can't be accessed by the Web. I'm working on correcting this problem.

UPDATE: It seems I managed to delete all of the pictures in trying to get the blog publishing again after the policy change. I'll have to find and replace all of the pictures by hand :(

Friday, April 18, 2008

Traditional Japanese Automatons

Masashi published an interesting report on a visit from master karakuri maker Shobei Tamaya. Karakuri are traditional Japanese automatons that apparently do some incredible things. The one demonstrated during this class picks up a miniature arrow, nocks it on a miniature bow, draws, and fires at a target.

Now that's a woodworking project.
Photo courtesy of Musashi.