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About RenaissanceWW

  • Birthday 03/03/1975

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    Bel Air, MD
  • Woodworking Interests
    Hand Tools, Woodturning, Period furniture styles

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Community Answers

  1. Do you know what your equilibrium moisture content is in your shop? I would imagine LA is pretty low as compare to my 10-12% EMC out here on the east coast. Ash is quite stable but also much more resistant to warping because of the highly ordered ring porous structure. What size are your boards? Can you do any milling like cutting to length and ripping to approx width? This will only speed up the drying process by exposing fresh wood and decreasing the material around soft, nougaty center of a board. And FWIW, I'm not suggesting you get it kiln dried. That's a tough call because kiln operators won't dry someone else's wood unless they can fill the kiln with it. Kiln operators want to eliminate as many variables as they can when drying and one of those is removing dead air from the kiln and shooting for a single species as well as similar thickness to all the boards. That way the kiln schedule can be more consistent. So showing up with less than a couple thousand board feet will result in your getting turned away (or less than 15K bf at my yard...our kilns are BIG) In the unique climate of Southern CA your lumber will get quite dry on its own. The fibers may not be hardened like a board that lives in a kiln at 180 degrees for a few weeks but it will still get dry. What you have to do is balance your shop EMC with the MC of the actual boards and know that it will continue to drop X% til it reaches EMC. Knowing this you can predict how it will move based on the grain of an individual board and also begin to place your boards as part within the bench oriented in such a way that the potential movement won't have an effect. In other words, yes, I think you could begin building but careful thought needs to go into how much you mill and how you orient the parts. Or just wait til it reaches EMC and build with reckless abandon
  2. I've re-read your original question and I still don't know where our lumber sits right now as far as MC. You mention 15%, if your softwood material at 15% or are you posing a hypothetical? As has been established here many time, wood move...all the time. Even one "dry" it continues to move as the climate changes around it. However you can lesson that movement by kiln drying lumber. Kiln drying, at least in North America, means dropping the wood down to 6-8% and holding it there as the kiln moisture and temperature levels return to ambient. This process actually bakes the wood to some degree as if forces out an unnatural amount of water and hardens the cell walls of the fibers. This process makes the wood quite stable since an ultra dry material won't absorb moisture readily. Think of a dry creek bed that sluices off water in a flash flood before it absorb it into the dirt. So if you wood is indeed at 15% and if the source if a big box store then it is highly possible that it was never actually kiln dried but rather went through a truncated kiln schedule. This will mean that your lumber is closer to air dried than kiln dried. It will be easier to work certainly but it will also react quicker to climate changes since the spongy nature of the cell walls remains. However as stated above softwoods in general tend to be more stable than hardwoods due to a different pore structure and lower density that allows for more internal movement without distortion. The TR ratio of most of the Pinus genus is close to 1.5 where 1 would be a perfectly isotropic material. So its pretty stable already. Must of this is ephemera which doesn't address your question but I would much rather spread a greater understanding of how wood dries and what happens to the material so that the woodworker understands WHY wood moves and WHY letting it properly season is a good idea. I work with professional builders and contractors all day long that don't understand this and just want someone to give them answer rather than understanding the process and extrapolating for their own situation. Trust me knowing WHY will always make you a better woodworker because wood movement is much less rolling the dice and more expected results based upon your knowledge of wood structure and grain patterns. Sorry I went off the rails on that (but you did give me permission in your original post)
  3. I'm curious Derek, you mention a second rolling of the edge at closer to 10 degrees is "crucial". I've never done this nor ever seen it mentioned so I'm intrigued. Why do you feel this is crucial? Put another way, how does this step change the performance and usage of the scraper?
  4. Jim, first a little semantics. A panel saw by defition is a backless saw between 18 and 24" long. It is intended to be used on already planed boards about 3/4" and under, AKA panels. For rough work and breaking down stock we use the generically termed "hand saw". These are the saws that are 24-28" (and longer) that are toother for rough sawn material and thicker stuff. Currently there are very few manufacturers of actual hand saws. I know many makers looking into it but it is a difficult proposition frought with peril! So regarding the PAX saws, I have hundreds of members who have bought them and are happy with them. Personally I find the handle clunky and the steel to be a bit thin. BUT, these are rough cut tools and the accuracy that comes from higher quality steel and glove fit handles just isn't necessary here. But there are good antique options. I'm like you I don't enjoy restoring tools but when I buy anything from Josh Clark at, Ed Lebetkin at The Woodwright School, or Jim Bode at Jim Bode Tools I just need to sharpen it and get to work. Sometimes I don't even have to do that much. All of these guys would be worth an email or phone call to tell them what you want and if they don't have it they will find it. If you buy only one I recommend a crosscut saw. In fact when it comes to getting into hand tools in general, I suggest going slow on the buying tools. You may find that you don't enjoy certain aspects of hand work and nothing is worse than the remorse from buying a tool you don't use. The lessons in HTS are actually in a logical order that will use very few tools and add as you go along. This being said, I do view saws as fundamental so at least one hand saw and something like a carcass saw will be needed right away.
  5. Just be aware that there is a pretty nasty Emerald Ash Borer blight going on right now. Verify when the logs were felled and hopefully it was in the Winter or fall when the sap wasn't rising. Remove the sap wood before stickering it for dry too since this is bug candy. Finally, store the boards vertically for a few days to quickly shed the free water. This can drop your moisture content 20-30% in a few days. Then sticker it, band it, and let it sit for a few months. Also recognize that right now there is not a lot of drying going on because the air is so cold that its not sucking up much moisture as it circulates over the boards. You may not get any appreciable drying until Spring. Ah Castle Rock, the little town that I often miss on early morning drives between the Springs and Denver.
  6. If I'm understanding your question correctly, you are not asking about which tools to get but which "appliances" are helpful. Like as had been said above, a lot of this depends on the work you do. But assuming general furniture work and since you already mentioned a workbench I would start with a saw bench. Actually I would built a sawbench before I even build a workbench. Don't obssess over the workbench too much at first as that can be improvised easily with some saw horses and a few planks. I built a dining table recently up at my in-laws house in Maine and had nothing but a rickety table and a saw horse to use and it worked just fine. Also in no particular order, bench hooks, shooting boards, try squares, straightedges, sharpening bench (or at least a dedicated space), saw bents, saw til. In fact, it you visit my Semester 1 page of The Hand Tool School and look at the applied projects for each lesson you will see that this is exactly how I have structured the curriculum for the starting out hand tool woodworker. Building these aids will allow you to hone your skills while building very useful stuff that you don't have to obsess over it looking perfect. Moreover, if you design them right you can focus on a single skill for each project. For example, my sawbench is designed to be built using only a saw and it highlights the 3 types of saw cuts you will encounter. I could have made it differently with more intricate joinery but then it would have drawn upon other skills and not allowed the student to focus on just the sawing. (easily the most important skill in hand tool work in my opinion). Anyway, this is starting to sound like a commercial and that's not my intent. Good luck and keep asking questions, the gang here will treat you right.
  7. I used Masterpiece on a Shaker Pedestal table I built in The Hand Tool School. It is a very simple finish to apply but it is labor intensive when compared to an oil/varnish finish or a shellac finish. But it does give you a really warm, close to the wood look. As far as durability I can only say that more than a year later my table still looks like it did when I had just applied the finish. But the table is also not a heavy use thing and it plays host to a large fern right now. I have spoken with Charles Brock about this on many ocassions and he has much longer term experience with the finish on his chairs and so far has not had any complaints. It was designed for his chairs so I can't see a reason why it would be a bad idea.
  8. I've lost count of the number of drawbored joints I've put together, but I do remember how many times I've needed a drawbore pin: 0. I've never understood why these exist. I've heard some say it helps start the deformation of the hole through the tenon but I just drill the offset and drive in the peg. Never had a need to "test draw" the joint. Am I missing something here? Anybody used these pins and have a solid reason why they are needed? Oh and I've used both the Veritas and LN plate (and a blacksmith made metal plate) and they all produce nice pegs. The Veritas is innovative and a cool idea if you do this a lot as you can set up a dedicated peg station, but I can't say it produces better pegs than the other options.
  9. I'm sure he means a bed extension. I have one for my Jet mini lathe and have used it many times to turn table legs. In my Queen Anne side table build you will see me use the bed extension to turn "low style" cabriole legs which does involve offset turning. It is a bit daunting but nothing that can't be cured by turning 3 or 4 practice legs first. For higher style cabriole legs, I've seen many people turn just the bottom of the pad foot first then the shape is sawn and shaped by other means. In this instance it is just a matter of chucking up the square blank on center and turning the bottom of the foot. No offset needed here. Everything else is done off the lathe.
  10. The BEST thing you can do to assess a sawing problem is to film yourself making a cut. Take 30 seconds or so of footage from profile and from straight on. You will quickly see any body mechanic issues that would throw a saw off its line. Correct me if I'm wrong but you are talking about making the tenon cuts here right? The flipping the board techniques is something I do for actual rip cuts to dimension a board so that advice is not applicable here. I do cut tenons from both sides of the board just because it is the only way to see your lines but I'm not flipping until I hit the far corner on the end grain and the shoulder on the near side. Then I repeat on the other side. A cross cut down on a bench hook or in a vise is a different body position than cutting a tenon and you may well have some issues with alignment. Start with a wide stance with your sawing side leg back. This positions your torso out of the way of your sawing arm. Now place the saw on the corner of the board like you were to begin the saw cut and trace a line down the plate to your wrist, back to your elbow, then up to your shoulder. All of that should be in the same plane. If your body is in the way at all, your arm will deviate from this piston like path and can cause saw deviation. Look for your elbow to kick out to the side during a stroke. I would also spend 5 or 10 minutes doing some practice cuts in something softer (not Maple in other words) to see how the saw performs. Hard Maple is a beast with hand tools and it will exacerbate any body mechanic issues you might have going into it. The size of the cuts you are making can be tough too so you have a lot of things stacked against you right now on an initial outing with this saw. I'm not suggesting you are using it incorrectly, just that you are making it harder on yourself to diagnose a potential technique issue. Finally, new saws do have a break in period where they can be a bit grabby and possibly cause a bit of drift. Saw for 5 minutes with it continuously and you will get past that point and the saw should be running true. If you are still having tracking issues and the mechanics appear right you could have a set issue that Lie Nielsen can address or I can walk you though that if you like. Honestly it is doubtful since LN's QC dept is top notch, but not impossible.
  11. my tip on Zebrawood? Wear a respirator. Not because of the dust (though thats important) but because of the damp and dirty sweat socks smell.
  12. My shop would eat a Roomba alive. BTW, did you know these mats wear out after a while. I had a really nice one I bought at Craft Suppliers in front of my bench. It was a huge 36x60" size. I loved it and in the last year have been feeling that cement weary feeling again. This was odd because I've actually lost quite a bit of weight and gotten in better shape (something I blamed the pain on before). So I broke down and bought a new matt, same one, thinking I could alway use another one somewhere else in the shop. It is a night and day difference and it occured to me, why wouldn't they wear out. Shoes wear out right? This is the one thing that has kept me away from the more "permanent" solution of puzzle flooring. Even then I'm still tempted because it looks so neat and tidy...especially in rainbow colors!
  13. Maybe this will come as a surprise to some but hopefully not as I haven't exactly been quite about my views on the subject. I was so glad to read this post because all we seem to hear about is people like me going the other ways (powered to hand-powered). I know a lot of people who have jumped into the hand tool world with both feet who end up either regretting it in the worst case, or getting frustrated. Its hard work and definitely isn't for everybody. Its not a skill thing because we all can learn that part, but rather a very personal thing. Call it journey vs destination in the simplest case. There is definitely a cult of hand tools going around and I hate to see anyone buying in to the romance only to discover they want to go another way. I hate to think how many people have left woodworking out of frustration because of this. I guess moderation is good for everything and this is why the whole "hybrid" thing will always win out in the end. I can feel and hear that frustration in your post Cabinfever and I feel for you. I'm glad you are sticking with us and recognizing your method of work rather than abandoning this lovely craft. Anyway, join the Guild if you do NOTHING else. Certainly I'm biased since Marc is a good friend, but his style of teaching and comprehensive film making is the best out there. You just can't beat it and I have looked at a lot online and in brick and mortar schools. With your current set of tools you can do a lot. I would focus on what to build and understanding the skills to get there before you start acquiring more tools. Think about the path you just left and realize there are just as many pitfalls on the power tool side of things. Marc does a great job of showing how to do things many ways regardless of your tooling. Good luck and keep building
  14. I've found you can build just about anything with the following Jack plane Rip hand saw 26"+ Carcass saw Brace and 1/4 and 3/8 bits 1/4, 3/8, 1 or 1.5" chisel Coping or turning saw Spokeshave and/or a cabinetmakers rasp Square, dividers, compass, bevel gauge, marking knife Sharpening kit If you want to get fancy, throw in a router plane and a skewed rabbet plane and you're golden
  15. The real question is why do they make chisels narrower than 1.5-2"??? Don't answer that only a joke.