Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Preparing the Parallel Guide

Here we are again, The Benchmaker's Apprentice. This time, I have my parallel guide ready to be drilled. I found the best way to do this is with a divider. Once I had drawn a nice square line across the board in the appropriate place, I simply take my divider and walk down the board, marking each interval for a place to drill. Then I just repeat the process on each 3 layers of holes. It's a flawless technique, and I can't claim it's my idea, unfortunately.

And here we have a complete set of marks for drilling. Now off to the drill press.

I'm not going to drill through on these because I don't want any blow-out on the other side.

I set my depth stop so that the brad-point bit just pokes through the other side. From here I can flip the board over and finish the drilling with blow-out being minimal.

Now I counter-sink the holes so that the guide will look nicer, but this also helps the pin insert easier; so when you're really tired and have to finish a project really fast, you won't have to deal with all that aiming to get the pin in the hole.

Now I am lining up the parallel for the mortise and tenon.

And routing...

After I clean that up, we'll have a nice mortise.

Now just to get that tenon done.

A nice fit is always...nice.

Just finishing up the end of the guide.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Benchcrafted Barrel Nuts---You Won't Beleive This

When we first introduced our Barrel Nuts, we had some hesitation about offering such a fastener at the price point of $40 per set. We've sold a lot of Barrel Nuts-aside from those packaged in our Benchmaker's packages-but we've always wanted to make these great knock-down fasteners more affordable, so you can use them to build all sorts of shop projects, not just bench bases. They are quite versatile, if you let your mind expand beyond the leg-and-rail joint.

Just this week we've discovered a new use for our Barrel Nuts. John is using them to join his end cap to the front top section of his Split-Top Roubo. Normally this wouldn't work with the Barrel Nuts, as they aren't long enough to reach the middle of a 4" thick top. But this top is only 3" thick, so they work perfectly. And it's really easy to install them. Just drill a couple 1" holes. Watch for more details about this in an upcoming The Benchmaker's Apprentice.

Another way we're using Barrel Nuts is to assemble and strengthen a large press we're building. It will basically join a leg to a rail in this configuration. It's just another example of a different way to use this quick fastener.

So now's your chance to come up with an interesting use for Barrel Nuts, or just pick up a set or two for some good old-fashioned knock-down leg-and-rail joints.

That's because we're lowering the price from $40 per set to, get ready, $29! This is not a sale. $29 is the new regular price.

In case you're wondering if we're having these made overseas, the answer is no. And will always be no. They are the same steel nuts, zinc-plated and threaded for 8" long 1/2-13 bolts (included!). And still made right here in the Midwest, U.S. of  A.

To order, visit our ordering page.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daed Toolworks--Big Updates

We've mentioned Daed Toolworks before. But just today Raney Nelson has posted a big update to his website. Click on the tabs at the top of the page to get lots of info on his offerings, including prices.

I'm a big fan of Raney's work. His planes at WIA last fall were simply amazing performers. Normally I'd say I'd love to have one, but as it turns out, I actually do! And I love it. If fact, I used my Daed Miter to build a backgammon board recently as part of an article I wrote for Popular Woodworking Magazine. The article is about geometric parquetry and inlay, and it should make for at least some good bathroom reading. Here's the outside of the backgammon board with my Daed Miter perched on top. No inlay you say? Well, its on the inside. You'll have to pony up for the magazine to see more. It comes out in the next issue, April.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tail Vise vs. Planing Stop Redux

A few weeks ago I was building a couple small totes for our dining room table. I picked up some really nice vertical grain Douglas fir and thought it would be a nice change from the typical hardwoods I use. As usual I prepped the boards with machinery, then refined them with hand planes. I find this to be the most efficient and accurate way of working.

The wood was planing nicely, so I didn't bother with holding the work in the tail vise. I just used a planing stop for speed and efficiency. Here's another reason you should plane faces of, especially smaller boards using a tail vise and not just a planing stop. As I reached dead flat on the board face, the flatness of my plane's sole, along with the flatness of the wood surface created a vacuum. When I picked up the plane for the return stroke, the workpiece stuck to the plane's sole, held on for a moment, then fell off with the pull of gravity. It bounced off the edge of the bench and onto the floor, making a nice dent in the face of the relatively soft fir.

Score one for the tail vise.