News and Announcements

Various Miscellany

It’s that time of year again: Autumn in New England.  The most beautiful time of year anywhere in the world.  I’d take New England Fall over any other season in any other location.  It’s also my most productive time of the year for woodworking.  To wit:

The guest room bed frame finally got a coat of paint.  General Finishes Milk Paint is such a joy to apply and I think their Driftwood color goes with anything.  I need to eventually add the chamfer detail on the base of each leg, but it works for now.

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Not bad for home center Douglas Fir.

The entire guest room is actually done now, replacement ceiling fan and all.  If it weren’t on the southwest side of the building, I daresay I’d make this the master bedroom.

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And I finally found a good place for that blanket chest.  

I also upgraded the workbench a smidge by increasing the capacity on the crochet.  1.75″ just wasn’t enough.  Adding a 0.50″ red oak spacer (a species I find similar to ash in many respects) brings the overall capacity to just over 2.25″.

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It’s not a perfect match, but at least the hurricane nut doesn’t bottom out.

Finally, I started work on a couple of bench appliances.  One is a benchtop bench, that starts by laminating some old 3/4″ plywood that I reclaimed from up in Vermont.  Four pieces of 3/4″ plywood makes a 3″ thick slab that is stable and heavy.  This will likely replace my Milkman’s Workbench as my traveling woodworking bench.

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Laminating plywood is not easy, but having a perfectly flat section of workbench helps.

The other benchtop appliance is a David Barron-style shoulder vise that clamps onto the benchtop (like a twin screw Moxon Vise).  This will likely end up as another ash/red oak amalgamation and is made from scraps as they become available.  And I plan to re-purpose the screw and hub from the failed face vise.

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Looks a bit like a crochet at the moment.

There are a few bigger things in the hopper, but for now I’m still clearing projects and making shop furniture.

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A Loving Home

A package came in the mail on Saturday.  James over at The Daily Skep was gracious enough to gift to me the box he made for his custom box for a Veritas Large Router Plane.  I am happy to say the box now has a new home in my tool chest.

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Fits very nicely.

For those who haven’t seen it before, it holds the plane itself, the fence and some additional blades, with a sliding lid.  I am particularly fond of the bits of veneer that hold the plane in place in the well.  It feels very Dutch tool chest-like in its own way.

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I seem to have one more extra blade than James.

Thanks very much, James.  By the way, if you’re not a reader of The Daily Skep, you should be.

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Impulse Shopping

Every time I stop by the lumberyard, I find something I didn’t know I was looking for. This time, it was 31 linear feet of 12 x 5/4 eastern white pine, with very few knots. On sale. So for about US$60, I now have the boards for a carcase, lid and probably floor of an English floor chest. If I ever get around to building one. And if not, I’m sure I’ll find some other use.

My car smells amazing, right now.

I went to the lumber yard, btw, for a scrap of quarter-sawn white oak (seen in the middle).

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The Vainglorious Optimism of Despair

It’s that time of year again.  The time for reflection, introspection and after-Christmas sales.  The time when everyone looks back at the previous revolution around the Sun and thinks: “Man, that sucked.  But next year: that’s going to be my year.”  I applaud your hope, whether real or feigned.  But I will not delude myself into thinking things are looking up.  My only hope is that, just like cleaning your room as a child, things have to get worse before they get better.

And so we find ourselves, on the precipice of autocracy, the world almost certain to figuratively and literally burn.  But I have my workbench, and my tools, and my hands and my mind.  And for this, I am grateful.  So if I am needed, you can find me in the shop making something that will last.

And when the world does burn, at least the hide glue will flow better for a time.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Here is a picture of my cat under a blanket.

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Saving All of [my] Time and Space

My main set of tools has been overflowing from my 26″ Craftsman top chest and middle chest for a while now.  It’s very clear I needed a single storage solution and my first and  natural thought was “build it myself”.  But after making a few medium and small tool chests by hand, as much as I would love to build a custom, proper woodworking tool chest, there just isn’t the time.  Unless I went the plywood route, I’d never finish it on a timeline I’d be happy with.  And then, Sears had a sale and my dilemma went away.

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But now I need to build a new rolling cart.

When I first saw this top chest, it instantly reminded me of a hybrid English and Dutch tool chest.  Like a Dutch tool chest, the top well is deep and my planes can stand on their soles.  It’s clearly meant to hold rechargeable power tools (hence the power strip on the inside right), so there is plenty of room to also attach a panel saw rack to the underside of the lid (with rare earth magnets).

Overall dimensions of the top chest are 41″, 24″ x 16″, which is pretty close (albeit slimmer) to a full-size English floor chest.  The drawer space is expansive, but not so much that I could be cavalier about tools I rarely use.  Those will stay in my old tool cabinet, tucked away for rainy days.

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Outside the leather roll, it feels like too many chisels.

The rolling cart on which this new tool chest sits will be (once the casters are attached) 48″ x 24″ x 24″, with two shelves to house the balance of my everyday woodworking accoutrements.  Things like my sharpening stones, machinist granite slab and small clamps.  There may even be plans for a drawer or two in a future retrofit.  And that will bring everything up to a comfortable height.

And with the 60 shop hours or so I saved myself by not building an equivalent English floor chest, I can get back to actual projects.  Like a wall rack for fasteners or a crochet for my workbench.

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A Proper Foundation for Dining

Many moons ago, when I first moved into my old apartment, the first order of business was getting my sturdy dining table ready for clamp on workbenches.  Two years later, I’ve moved, and now that I have the space for an actual workbench, it was time to get my sturdy dining table ready for use as an actual dining table.  That meant stripping the finish and reflattening the tabletop.

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And also replacing the plywood shelf with ash.

Ash is quite porous, and the tabletop had soaked in quite a bit of steel slurry and rust particles over its life as a quasi-workbench.  Plus, the Danish Oil finish had fully cured.  As a result, there was nothing to do but have diamond plates on hand for frequent sharpening.  Two hours, half a garbage can of shavings and about ten resharpenings later, the tabletop was tried and true.

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Fun fact: this rug was supposed to be under the table in my old apartment.

It had been a long time since my No. 4 1/2 got a decent workout.  I ordinarily use it only for panel smoothing.  All that resharpening allowed me to work on the blade geometry a bit, getting it mostly straight with a slight camber at the edges (as opposed to a full camber across the entire edge).  When it was time for final smoothing, though, I re-instituted a continuous camber.

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This was sharpening #11.

Ash being a fickle mistress, there is significant tearout at one corner (far right, above), but I’m not so concerned. It’s meant to be a rustic piece. Before I refinish the tabletop, however, I will give it a once over with a tool I haven’t used in ages: the random-orbit sander.  Half an hour at 150 grit should clean up any remaining traversing marks that didn’t come out from smoothing.  I also dressed the long grain edges of the tabletop, just because.

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The top is actually glued down, long grain to long grain.  No splits yet.

I can’t wait to show everyone the new workshop (spoiler alert: it’s larger than a dining nook).  I’ve been making new kitchen cabinet shelves for the new place (the old ones were warped and gross), so it’s high time for a real furniture project.  But everything in due time.

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RIP old shop.

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New Year’s Resolutions

There are (literally) big things in store for 2016 at The Apartment Woodworker.  I have only one New Year’s Resolution this year.

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And it rhymes with “Killed a Teal Smirk Wench”.

I always meant to build a frame for the original planing slab.  But after standing in the corner for so long, it needs so much reflattening it would be less than 2.25″ thick.  Not nearly enough for a stout benchtop.   Plus it’s only 13″ deep and 70″ wide.  I see it being reclaimed to make a dedicated sharpening station or something like that.

The lumber above is enough Douglas Fir to make four post legs (each approx. 4.5″ x 4.5″) and four rails (each approx 7″ x 3″), with much left over for appliances and such.  Only the bottom 6 boards are actually new; the rest are just for weight while the new boards acclimate.

More details to come, but for now, it’s a month or two of refining the design while waiting for dry wood.  When the time comes, I will hit up the home center again for Douglas Fir 2×4’s to laminate an approximately 84″ x 21″ slab top.

Happy New Year’s, everyone.

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Merry Christmas and Whatnot

In these United States of America, whether or not you actually celebrate Christmas, you likely have it off from work.  My family does celebrate, and my office is closed, so I will spend most of the day driving around my tiny slice of the cosmos.  First having lunch with my parents and my one extent grandparent at my aunt and uncle’s house, and second going to dinner and presents at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.  With woefully little time in the shop.

We have a rule in my family: if you don’t ask for it, you don’t get it.  My Christmas wish list was pretty much just woodworking hand tools.  I’ll post the tool-pron later once I’m back in the shop (read: home).

Happy Holidays to everyone.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from TheApartmentWoodworker.com.  As the holiday season ramps up, I am (as always) grateful for my readers and followers and, most of all, the support of my family and friends who humor my woodworking hobby (obsession?).

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday. Travel safe and, if you can, get some time in the workshop!  Even if it’s just to flatten your saw bench.

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Sometimes, even shop furniture needs some maintenance.

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