A new home for the blog

Andrew’s Woodwork Blog is moving to a new site so please check out The Woodwork Geek from now on. All of the existing content will remain here in case you have it bookmarked.

Why the change?. I’ve decided that after a year I wanted something as a title that describes me more and I think the new one does just that. I’ve also got some new ideas planned and wanted a fresh canvas to play with them on.

Enjoy the new site



Modifications to the plane till

I have to say I’m finding this whole cleanout process quite rewarding. The garage is actually starting to look neat, I can focus my attention on making sure a handful of tools are tuned up and ready to go instead of half-finishing a pile of them, and it’s also creating a lot more space which is making everything easier to organise.

I’ve cleaned out the plane till a bit and removed a couple of ‘tool shaped objects’ (most notably the Stanley RB10) to a box of planes that may go, and my moulding planes and surform tools are in a box below the till as they don’t get used often. They will end up going as well if I find that they aren’t being used, which I suspect is likely.

I’m now on the lookout for a plough plane and a router plane to finish out the set, these are two recommended by Chris Schwatz and I see the logic behind him suggesting them. I have the body of a Stanley #55 sitting there and I’m considering making a fence and blades for it to fill the plough role, though I may have a Record Plough coming from a friend at the local woodworking group though so will hold off on this until I find out about that one.

I think I might have a go at making an Old Woman’s Tooth router plane, based on Derek Cohan’s guide. I have some Jarrah and brass around so that could work nicely.

Now that the plane till has been cleaned out a bit I decided to move the block planes to the main rack and remove the box I’d added for them, giving me room to hang my spokeshaves and scraper plane. I just marked out the locations and put some brass hooks in and this appears to work, we’ll see how it goes under use.

You can see that some of the planes are still half assembled, I’ve got to finish these up and get them all back together shortly. Once they are all working I’ll see which I use. I can see myself keeping them all when I don’t need to, just because they look nice there, but I can decide that later on.

The keen eye will note the body of a second 4 1/2 in the picture. It’s about to be rebuilt from parts of a variety of planes and will be configured as a scrub plane. I get hold of quite a bit of rough stock and think I’d find one handy. Again, if it doesn’t get used it will go to make room for something I do.


A new-old shopvac

I was visiting my parents recently and they’d borrowed an old barrel style vac from a friend when their vacuum was playing up. They aren’t using it now and the friend was happy to part with it for the sum of $20 so it’s taken up residence in my shop/

While I’m trying hard to cull my tools I’m still keeping an eye out for things I need. Note that I said need rather than want. Removing dust from the workshop seems a valid purpose. It’s got good suction and I’ve already found it useful with the dropsaw. I will try and get the router adapter as I find it’s the worst dust creator I have.

Oilstones and water and diamonds oh my!

I’m now halfway through ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest‘ and have just finished the section on sharpening. It’s a good part to be reading as part of the plan for this cold and rainy day is to build new cases for my sharpening stones.

I have a mix of oilstones from a $10 hardware store special to some cheap but good old eBay buys. I also have a combination waterstone, a set of low end diamond plates, a bench grinder and a big old tile that I use with wet & dry for flattening stones. This last item is why this particular passage has amused me

“Some wood workers flatten their stones using wet/dry sandpaper stuck to a flat surface. This is ghastly expensive. You might get only two flattenings on a sheet of paper before it’s trashed. Unless you own a sandpaper factory, burn your money on something else.”

I’m not exactly sure where he’s getting his w&d but I’ve used this method and it’s not been bad, or overly expensive. Admittedly the line in the second sentence might be a giveaway – ‘I have’ rather than ‘I use”. If I don’t get a perfect edge in a few seconds I buy something else to see if it works better. This is symptomatic of my experience with just about every hobby I’ve tried and given the content of Chris’s book I don’t think I’m alone. If I was using my stones as much as he is I might find the cost factor very different.

I’m going to break the trend today if I can, put proper boxes on my oilstones and sharpen all my chisels. I’m going to persevere until I get it right. Then and only then can I look at using other methods if needed, though I suspect if I nail the oilstone method the other gear may end up in that big plastic box of tools destined for eBay.

What was once a saw…

In the previous post I mentioned the problem I’m having with too much ‘stuff’. One of the ways to deal with this is to take some of the excess and convert it into something you need but don’t have.

Last weekend I took an unwanted sawblade (cost 50c) and turned it into a couple of card scrapers. It’s good old steel and took a bit of work to cut, in the end the old aviation sheers did all the work when the jigsaw refused to touch it.

I marked out a couple of rectangles and cut them out. After that I filed the cutting edge flat, polished it with a stone then used an old firmer chisel to make the hook.

Not the prettiest tools around, but they work nicely. The smaller of the two will get a rounded end when I get time. I’d not used a scraper before but from the results I got trying these out I think I will be using them often.


And overflowing garage and the Anarchist’s Tool Chest

My small garage is overflowing. Tools, bits of tools, semi-restored tools and piles of wood are everywhere. I’ve been struggling to get the car in and then me out of it because of the accumulation in there. It’s even overflowed into the other half (we have a weird split garage) and is getting in the road there.

I decided something had to be done, and as inspiration for one giant cleanout I got the eBook version of Chris Schwatz’s new book, ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’. He goes through what tools you need to do fine woodworking, and what to avoid. I’m about a third of the way through it but it’s already helped me decide what to do about some of the clutter. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to the end.

What I’ve already done is grab an empty 60 litre crate and start filling it with things I know I don’t need. So far it’s mostly duplicates and what Chris calls ‘tool-shaped objects’ but it took 5 minutes to get it 1/3 full. Hopefully the other 2/3 of the book will inspire me to fill the remaining two thirds of the crate.

Drill bit storage

I’m constantly amazed at the number of different things a simple drill can do. It can of course drill holes, but with the right bit it can create flat bottomed holes, cut plugs, clean metal (wire brush), act as a grinder, sand and the list goes on.

The problem is storing all these accessories in a way you can find them and also in a way where you will be easily able to put things back where they belong. We all know that if we can’t put it away in a few seconds, it ends up on the floor under the bench!.

Here’s my latest attempt at bringing order to the chaos.

The containers are from the citric acid I use to remove rust, wrapped with insulation tape for appearance. The larger one used to contain herbs. I’ve split the bits into the different types and this way I can just pick up a whole container, take it to the bench and then drop the bits into it when done before returning it to the shelf at the end of the day. The buffing wheels and sanding disk sit in the lower shelf, I still need to find a way to store the rest of the bits and pieces that go with the drill.