Yesterday we finally had a bit of decent weather; not that it was warm, it snowed the night before, but at the least it wasn’t freezing. I took the nicer weather as a sign that spring is finally springing, so I decided to not only clean out my garage, but the yard as well. It was an all day job, starting at 9 am and not ending until nearly 5 pm. But I managed to get a lot done, most importantly I managed to make my workbench area a lot less cluttered. Much scrap wood, old cans, broken items, and stuff I generally had forgotten existed was either thrown away or donated to goodwill. I’m not finished yet, but I came a long, long way, and my garage should be much more suitable to woodworking when I begin my next project.
As far as woodworking is concerned, my cleanup and reorganization accomplished two things that I had been wanting to finish for more than a year: I was able to move my stain cabinet to the workbench area, and I was able to get my woodworking hardware (nails, screws, handles, knobs, brackets, etc.) organized and into one location that is easily accessible right from my workbench. I even managed to squeeze in a little woodworking during my clean-up. Firstly, I finished the small screw driver rack that I started, and secondly, I got the material for my next hand plane cut roughly to size..
I started making a screw-driver rack a few weeks back from some scrap Walnut I had laying around. It was a good excuse to mess around with my hand-tools, and when my new ECE rabbet plane arrived it was a good excuse to put it to use. Before I go on let me say that my little screw driver rack is barely worth noting but for two reasons. The first reason is that I used my drill press to drill out the holes. Yes, I have a drill press. The tool was given to me twelve years ago and I barely use it. I have nothing against using a drill press, but this one is just not accurate enough to use in making furniture. It’s okay for drilling out a line of holes, or some light sanding, but the table is too wobbly and the depth stop not reliable enough for intricate work. The other reason is my smoothing plane.
I have one of the new Stanley Sweetheart #4 smooth planes. I picked it up on Amazon roughly three years ago for the ridiculously low price of $91. It is a good tool that is well made and attractive. My only problem with it is the same problem I have with other smooth planes, and that is the fact that I think smooth planes are overrated. I’ve written about this topic before so I won’t get into it again at the moment. At the same time, just because I felt that way it didn’t necessarily mean that I dislike the tool. Whenever I sharpen, I always give the #4 iron a few passes over the stone just to keep it razor sharp, and I usually take it apart once a month or so, as I do with my other bench planes, just to oil and clean it. Yesterday I used the #4 to clean up the screw driver rack boards both before and after assembly, and I also used it to prep the maple and bubinga I am using to make my next handplane. It was the first time since I’ve owned the tool that I used it for more than a few minutes and I have to admit that it was a joy to use. I was able to take fine and full-width shavings with little effort. Of course the sharp iron helped big time. Nevertheless, it was a joy to use a well-made tool exactly the way it was meant to be used. While I still don’t worship at the altar of the smooth plane, I’m at least at the door of the church. So I have to be forthright and admit that my bashing of the #4 was off-base, and I apologize to those who may have disagreed with my original assessment.