The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Being that my birthday is fast approaching, my wife and daughter reluctantly accompanied me to our local Woodcraft store yesterday. I have to admit, I am becoming more and more impressed with the stock that Woodcraft offers each time I go, in particular the wood selection. While the prices on the larger boards aren’t all that great, they do have a varied selection. You aren’t going to a Woodcraft if you are building a highboy, but it definitely is a great place if you need veneer or inlay material, AND, if you want to make a wood plane, it is THE place. Go to a large lumberyard and ask for a 2 inch square by 2ft ash board and you may get laughed at; Woodcraft has a real selection of them.

Looks like I want to make a plane

Looks like I want to make a plane

As you may have gathered from the photo, it looks as though I am going to make a new hand plane, and that would be accurate. I’ve wanted to make a wood smoother for some time, and I believe this summer is the perfect time to do it. I picked up a nearly perfectly straight grained length of ash that is also remarkably square (I did check it to be sure when I got home). I made my “try plane” from Ash and it turned out well, and has remained very flat which I believe is because of the straight grained Ash I used. To dress up the plane a little, I picked up a piece of Bubinga to use for the sides of the plane, but I did leave the store forgetting to grab a piece of Bubinga suitable for the wedge. I’m not upset, though, as that just gives me an excuse to go back sooner rather than later. I only need to order the iron from Hock Tools and I will be ready to go.

While at Woodcraft, I also picked up a small sheet of high quality plywood to make a tenon jig/panel raising jig for my table saw, which is also something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I’ve said before that I do not like making jigs, and I truly don’t. Jigs are one of the things that make me listen ( a little ) to the hand tool wackos out there. I’ve seen books filled with jigs for power tools and I just can’t imagine spending all that time building them. But there are times they do come in handy. For instance, I usually saw tenons by hand; nothing wrong with that. Even though I saw those tenons by hand I still have to spend time cleaning them up with a chisel and router plane. Why not get them sawn much more quickly using the table saw? Tenons generally needed to be fit no matter which method is used, so why waste the time on the rough sawing?

I also picked up a beautiful “Swiss made” carving chisel. On that item, I spent a bit more than I wanted, but it is a great tool. I don’t plan on being a carver in the near future, but there are certain times when I would like to have the option. I’ve used a carving chisel very similar to this one before and I surprised myself a bit when I found that I was pretty good with it. What worries me is the sharpening part. I’ve never sharpened a carving chisel before, so there will be a learning curve involved. To round out the day I picked up some liquid hide glue and a silicon glue brush. I really don’t need the hide glue at the moment, I bought it just to see what the fuss is all about.

Lastly, I also picked up the poplar needed to make the Shaker Enfield Cupboard, though that was at a lumber yard. Happily, the material cost was very inexpensive, just around $100. Like I said in previous posts, I don’t plan on starting that project until the end of the summer when the weather improves. Just this week we had five straight days of temperatures in the mid 90’s (that’s 35 for all of you Celsius snobs out there). Whichever way you look at it, those temps aren’t what I like to woodwork in, especially in a garage without climate control. Making a hand plane, however, is a project that I can work on in the house if need be, at least for some of the operation.

So I’m glad to say that my summer has actually gotten off to a good start woodworking wise. I have the material ready to go for several projects, and now all I need is a little time and some decent weather. Though birthdays were never much of a big deal at my house when I was growing up, for this one I actually got a few really useful items. Speaking of birthdays, today just so happens to be the birthday of The good old Unites States of America! So happy Independence Day to all of my American friends out there, and to everybody else around the world!

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