dinsdag 24 februari 2015

New endvise

When I made my workbench I installed an endvise with one of these generic woodworkers vices. With a big wooden jaw and a hole for a moving dog, it was very usefull together with the dogholes in the benchtop itself. It looked like this.

It worked well enough as an endvice but never perfectly so. And clamping objects in this vice for example for carving was pretty miserable. This type of vise really likes racking and sagging. And to move the jaw a reasonable amount I had to wind the handle an unreasonable number of turns. All in all, this was the part of the bench I didn't really like.

So I bought an old Record 52, years ago, stored it in a dusty corner and never got round to it. After moving the workshop to the garage last summer I started working in the new shop without any endvise at all. And I know, viseless woodworking is all the rage nowadays, but I missed it nonetheless.

At the moment I am somehow not in the mood for fine woodworking, which is a brilliant excuse to tackle little jobs like this. After clearing out the area around the bench and cleaning the bench itself I turned it over. Its a long time since I've seen my bench upside down!

After removing the old hardware it was time to make a plan for installing the new vise in a good spot without interfering with the leg or the dogholes.

This is where it is going to end up, with the rear jaw behind that merbau endcap. And after some sawing and hacking it looks like this.

(one of the bolt holes is out of commision from now on). The line of the dogholes is slightly off centered, so I can reach between the screw in the centre and the guiding rod on the left to push up the dogs. My Record doesn't have a moving dog and it would have been too low anyway. So I made a rear jaw from bits of oak with a hole in the middle for a wooden dog. I also made provision for a wooden spring which gives a bit of friction to the dog, so it doesn't fall down on its own accord. The dog has an extension downwards which fits in between the centre screw and the guiding rod to let me push the dog upwards.

Next where the dogs for the bench. I have made one dog in the past which fits all the dogholes. But that one is to long for the two dogholes nearest to the endvise. The room under the bench is now occupied by the rods and screw mechanism. So I had to make two short ones from some leftover bits of ash.

Reaching between the bars I can push the dog upwards.

And this is the new endvise in use. I am very happy with it allready. It racks and sags a lot less then the old one. And this vise has a quick release which is very nice to move the rearjaw back and forth in a hurry.

As usual, a small job taking more time then envisioned, but it was totally worth it.

zondag 15 februari 2015

Handplaning: From the floor up.

Lately Derek Cohen published an interesting article on his website about planing ergonomics. One thing I took from that article was how you push the plane in a heavy(ish) cut with your whole body, not just your arms or shoulders. Ideally you want to keep your elbow low and push with the forearm alomst horizontally.

So, I watched some videos from myself. I can highly endorse to shoot a video when you want to improve a physical skill. That can be humbling, but it is also very instructional. I could see that I am pushing from my legs and hips, but not neccessarilly holding my forearm horizontal. There is room for improvement, so to speak. Pushing from the legs in a heavy cut feels very natural, so I guess most people will do that automatically.

But these videos were done in the old shop with the wooden floor. I have now moved into the garage with a slick painted concrete floor, and it is very slippery indeed! I was preparing some beech blanks for a wild idea to make a plane in the near future. I was really struggling. Beech is hard stuff and I was gliding all over the place. Almost instinctively I was hooking my feet around the legs of the bench, not really an ideal solution.

Good reason to throw some money at the problem and I got an anti skid mat. Instant 100% improvement!

I choose for 60cm width and 250 cm length, bought from http://www.mattenzaak.nl.

Planing works a lot better this way. The next step up though are my shoes. I really like to wear clogs, because I can quickly jump in and out of them when leaving or entering the house. With normal shoes it is easy to drag around a lot of dust and shavings. Years ago I had clogs with an open heel and they are quite useless for planing, you just slip out of your clogs. Then I bought some clogs with a closed heel. Much better, but  they have a very high heel. My workbench is rather low, so the mat plus the clogs is pushing me up quite a bit. I'm still looking for a solution for that one.

zondag 1 februari 2015


I have been slacking again. My mind was occupied with skiing (loads of snow in the Alps) and I somehow never got around to do anything usefull in the workshop.

So, where did I left? Mortising chisels! This is how they turned out.

And how do they work? I only used the narrow 1/4" one, It's the long chisel on the right in the picture. I've cut four pretty deep mortises. The styles are 7 cm wide (almost 3") and I cut almost 5 cm deep. That is quite a bit and takes time. First round I don't get much deeper then 2.5 cm, and the deeper you get, the harder it is to get the waste out of the mortise.

I was a bit tentative. Usually I first plow the groove for the panel, that gives a nice start for the mortise. But I don't have any plow plane blade with the exact same width as these chisels. So I carefully start chopping, making sure to stay within the lines. Despite this tentativeness I managed to crack one corner allready! Luckily it was easy to repair with a bit of glue.

Here is my setup. The setup of a tentative men. A clamp on the front to prevent splitting. A holdfast to keep the style upright in its place. A caliper to measure the depth (not to the last 0.1 mm!, It's just a dandy measuring device). A narrower chisel to scoop out the waste. And two mallets, using the round one feels best.

The mortising chisel works very well. The enormous length is very usefull to keep square. The handle feels good and relaxed. The tapering of the blade helps to prevent the chisel getting stuck, but it doesn't feel too loose at all. The bevel is fine as it is and the edge is very durable in this stuff. No chipped corners or folding edge or whatever. I quickly sharpened one time, just to prevent mishaps, rather then to correct them.

And this is the result. Four nice mortises. It's a pitty they won't be visible in the final product.....

zaterdag 10 januari 2015

Unorthodox chisel grinding

In my possession are 4 typical Dutch mortise chisels. Two of them have allready been sharpened and used, but two were still waiting for some attention. I need a narrow one for the cabinet door, so this was a perfect moment. Problem is, the grinding angle they had was very obtuse, in the order of 40 to 45 degrees. They are the two right hand chisels in the picture. The two on the left are close to 30 degrees, which makes them perfectly allright. I drew a line on one of the misfits to show a 25 degree grinding angle.

As you can see, that is a lot of steel to remove. They are laminated chisels, but still quite hard, so filing wasn't an option. Even grinding would have taken a lot of time, and I don't want a hollow grind on them either. So I choose a rather unorthodox method, and a pretty radical one, the angle grinder!

Now, let me make one thing clear: Don't try this at home kids! It's a sure way to ruin a pair of fine chisels.

But being the reckless idiot that I am, I put them in a vise, got a very narrow cutoff blade and chopped a corner from the chisels. I made sure that I stayed away from the edge, put very little pressure on the grinder and took it slowly. Here the corner is still attached but one hit with a hammer was enough to seperate it from the rest.

Despite being very carefull I still decided to grind the edge back a few mm on the Cruessen bench grinder and proceeded to make a hollow grind. The hollow certainly not all the way to the edge, just enough to get a lot of metal out of the way. Then I grinded even more metal towards the heel of the bevel.

All this to remove as much metal as possible before I go to the next powertool, a belt sander. I don't have a professional one. Mine is a handheld model for wood, and I can't get metal cutting belts in this size. So I use a fresh 80 grit belt for sanding wooden and painted surfaces, clamp the sander upside down in the vise and start grinding the bevel.

It takes a while. I cool the chisel often in cold water and look carefully if it is keeping everything square, correcting as neccessary. I had another "puberty moment". This sander has been used for many jobs around the house, so it is rather filthy. And grinding steel produces sparks. One plus one is a smoking and very smelly sander! Time to dismantle it and clean out the mess.

But all this resulted in two 25 degree bevels, ready to be sharpened to usefull chisels on the wetstones. I will probably try a 30 degree secundairy bevel angle first to see how they hold up.

vrijdag 9 januari 2015


Just when I was a bit proud about my simple lock, I happened onto the website of Seth Gould, a master artisan/blacksmith somewhere in the US. Look at the details of this crab lock, especially how he manages to bring life into all the surfaces. Click on the image to get a better view.

zondag 4 januari 2015

And the lock is finished!

In the last blog I finished the key mechanism, now it was time for the bolt. I had a somewhat thicker piece of steel, 1/4" thick from an old bracket. Cut it with the hacksaw (took some time!), then cleaned it up with files. Making the actuation gate for the key was done with hacksaw, angle grinder and files. It's easy to cut into a piece of steel with a hacksaw, but not so easy to turn a corner. I could use a turning saw with metal cutting blades, but blasting away the metal with the angle grinder is much quicker! Finishing down to the marking lines is a job for the files again.

The two ports for the bolt were made similarly with the same tools, this time from 4mm flat steel. The pins for rivetting are still too long in this picture.

I took my time to locate the positon of the ports and the holes carefully. Easy to make a stupid mistake here. Rivetting needs to be done with care. It's not a matter of squashing down the metal with mighty blows. You use the fin of the hammer to drive the steel into the countersink, working around the pin. The rivet shouldn't be too long, or it just bends over, or too short and it never fills the countersink. You need some practice. A good job means that you can almost make them disapear in the surface when you file them flat. I still need a lot of practice then...

This shows the mechanism with the key pushing the bolt into the closed position. I welded some blobs on top of the bolt and filed these so they act as a stop, preventing the bolt from ever falling out of the lock. I also added a leaf spring to put some tension on the bolt. You can also see that I am only a very average mechanic, but all this is going to live inside the door style. Most important, the lock works very smoothly.

And this is the front view.

And here is my little metal working corner. A sturdy vise. Hacksaw and a lot of files, I like the Bahco files. A drill press, and the Mig welder. When you are inspired to give it a try, but you don't have a welding rig, I think you could do a lot with rivetting and some silver soldering too. I am not quite sure about the key, but there probably is a different assembly method for that one too.

zaterdag 3 januari 2015

Lock continued

Today I got time to do more work on the lock. It's very exiting work, completely different from woodworking of course, but a lot of fun. For more information about these antique locks, have a look on this website.

At work I could make the centre pin on the lathe. That's easier and more accurate then doing all work by filing. I also made a "bridge", a piece of sheetmetal bended into a U-shape where the locks innards are attached.

First I made the wards today. I take a piece of 4mm round steel and file a 3mm post at the end. I use the top of the vise to guide the file. This becomes a rivet.

I drill a hole in the bridge and countersink the outside. This is important, because when I clinch the rivet, the steel must flow into this countersink. Insert the rivet in the bridge and drive it flat with the fin of a hammer.

Turn it over, cut the rivet to length on the inside and shape the stub to a nice ward, an obstruction for the key.

This ward keeps a blank key from rotating, it's part of the security system of the lock.

I made another ward like this on the opposite side, that is in the face plate of the lock. I also made a ward from a piece of steel plate and welded this to the inside of one of the legs of the bridge. As you can probably see, I am an absolute lousy welder! I had to file a lot to make it passable.

With the centrepin also welded to the bridge and the whole bridge with wards riveted to the face plate it looks like this. As you can see I have filed the slots in the key bit so it can circumnavigate the wards.

So far the security system of this lock. You can probably guess that this isn't the most secure lock in the world. All these warded locks are pretty easy to pick. But for me it doesn't really matter, it's just a lot of fun.

Next job is the bolt and the ports to guide it.