The finished breadboard

Once the glue dried, I cut the ends straight across with the jigsaw as shown below

After that, I ran a roundover bit on the edges with a router, and gave it a good sand. There’s a bit of tearout still that I couldn’t quite get out, next time I will know to make sure the grain all goes one way.

The final step was to give it a coat of food safe oil. I used canola spray and rubbed it in well, let it dry then wiped it off, then repeated. It came up quite well I think.




Adventures in joinery

Sounds like the title for an adventure novel doesn’t it?. Well In this case, it’s all about biscuit joiners.

I spent the morning at my local woodworking club and the topic for the day was using biscuits. I’d made a mistake reading the schedule somewhere along the line and so was disappointed by the lack of baked goods, but had fun anyway.

To demonstrate how to use a biscuit joiner one of the senior members made a breadboard, then another showed how to use them on angle joints. I’d not really had much exposure to either technique so found it quite interesting.

Later on the demonstrator pointed out that they needed to get me making some sawdust as they’d not yet seen much from me, so he handed me a pile of pre-cut lengths and showed me how to mark up and use the biscuit joiner.

I was really suprised by how easy it was and quite enjoyed the process. I got to bring the parts home with me to finish it off, so thought I’d share a few pics.

Here’s all the parts laid out in order – it’s easiest if you number them so you can match them up later. We staggered the biscuits for strength and to help prevent the wood curling.

Here they are showing the biscuits dry fitted to make sure everything lines up. The blackwood is slightly thicker than the pine so will need to be planed down later, but as we used a flat bench for reference when cutting the biscuit slots one side is dead flat already.

For anyone who’s got no idea what I’m talking about, biscuits are those little oval bits of wood in the picture. You use a tool called a biscuit joiner, which is really just like a tiny sideways circular saw, and it cuts slots in the wood. You do this in the same spot in two bits of wood and glue a biscuit of wood into both bits and it makes quite a strong joint, much stronger than just gluing the two bits of wood together. See the slot and the biscuit below?

I wasn’t sure if I just glued the biscuits or the face of the wood as well and got told it’s better to do both, so I’ve followed that advice and will see how it goes.

and here it is all glued and clamped up. Normally you would put an end piece on to hide all the end grain and keep it flat, but as this is a test piece and I may have nothing the right thickness to match I’ll see how I go.

In a happy coincidence, one of the club members and I were talking a few months ago about tools and he’d just been given a second biscuit joiner by a friend who couldn’t get it to do what he wanted so said to pass it on to someone who could use it. He remembered to bring it today so I came home with it and gave it a test run, works just fine so I think I’ll be using what I learnt today quite a bit more.

So how do you restore a broken wooden plane?

Well in this case, with a wood putty as close to the original colour as you can!. Not exactly an authentic way, but given the number of cracks and the large bite out of the front it’s the only thing I could think of. These are the before pics, hopefully the after’s on the weekend. I need to make a blade for it too, it was missing when I got it and it’s wider than anything I have around. Time to cut up an old circ saw blade I think. It’s an old plane that I saved from sitting unused until someone threw it out, and it’s about the same length as a #7 so if I get it working well I can put it to good use.

More spring cleanout

I’ve been taking a good look at the tools I have and trying to get rid of any that I don’t use. I’ve found that I have duplicates in functionality quite a lot so I’ve been eBaying a few that I don’t need.

First on the list was saws – I had a big pile of one’s I’d collected to restore, plus a few I got because I thought they’d fill a need but haven’t.

Here’s what I’ve narrowed down to, though I don’t have a panel saw in this photo. I finished restoring one yesterday that turned out to be a D8 so it can fill that spot.

Saws are funny things, if you really tried you could get away with three – a backsaw, a decent crosscut and a frame saw (coping or fret) and still get 95% of jobs done. I started with just those and it was fine, though adding a few more like a dovetail saw (for dovetails and small work) and a Japanese saw (for cutting dowels, trimming things flush and about 500 other things – I’m a fan) gets you that bit of extra flexibility.

This is the pile I went through to get down to this lot

There’s some good saws in there – the second backsaw will go to Dad, a forumite wants a decent panel so one of those will go to him, and the rest will get restored and sold. But basically I don’t need this many that do the same thing around so it’s time to get rid of some.

Chisels are the second offender, it seemed that everywhere I go I end up coming home with a chisel, often for free or near free. Once people find out you like old tools you’ll find the common types (saws, chisels, sometimes planes) start coming your way quite frequently. The thing is, you don’t need walls of the things and I’d rather my workshop didn’t look like the tool section at the local hardware store.

With chisels, I’ve kept a few more than the saws – a good set of bevel edge in quarter to full inch, five Berg/Bahco’s in small widths that I will use for cleaning up dovetails, three big Stanley Fatmax’s that are just there for taking out waste quickly without worrying about how hard I hit them, and a set of Titan registered mortice chisels, because sometimes. to quote a certain 90’s TV star, you just need “More Power!”.

In other tools, I have a couple of Surform tools so they can be reduced to one or two, there’s an extra coping saw somewhere around, and who knows how many hammers and pliers and weird bits and pieces that I don’t use or need so they can go to. There’s a second router and if I don’t get around to building a table for it soon it can go too, and there’s about 5 awls, a pile of drill bits, wire brushes and accessories for things that need to be sorted out as well.

I’ve avoiding mentioning planes – I like planes and even though I’m sure I could get away with just three – a good block plane, a #5 and a longer jointer (#7 or #8) I’m going to leave that for another day because it’s going to be a bit harder.

Now this isn’t nearly as vicious a cull as Chris Schwatz would advise, but it’s a fairly sensible one for me. It means I have manageable, storable set of good quality tools, I will have them all in racks shortly so can find them when I need them, and as time goes on if I find better quality ones I can replace one item at a time.

To paint or not to paint?

The words “tool” and “painted” tend to make a lot of woodworkers cringe. A gold sprayed Stanley #7 that I saw for sale was a good example of why. Often it’s done in haste, without proper surface preparation, and with the wrong paint.

Take for example the Stanley #80 I got on the weekend. It looks a mess, but the tool is sound. I could leave it as is, strip it right back to bare metal and keep it oiled, or I could try and get it back to as close to original finish as I could.

I started by doing some researching into Japanning, which is what was originally used on these tools. It involves mixing Linseed Oil, Turps and a tar based paint and then baking the tools in an oven. Somehow I didn’t think my other half would be pleased at me doing that.

The paint store owner suggested that the best alternative would be to sand the metal really well then apply thin layers of a rust proofing enamel paint, sanding between coats. I gave it a go on the cabinet scraper and I’m really pleased with how it’s come up. The first photo shows it wet and it looks like I’ve made a mess of a really nice tool.

Once dry I gave it a light sand with 1200 grit Wet and dry sandpaper and recoated it, doing the same again to make sure it was smooth. It looks a lot better in the second photo, in fact I find it hard to tell the difference between that and the factory finished spokeshave in the picture for reference.

Will I be rushing out and painting all my tools?. No. What I will do is use my judgement and see which need it (say anything under 60% original finish) and make sure I carefully try and restore as much of the original character to the tool as I can. In the end, if a tool works that’s the main thing, but why not try and get it to look good as well?

More tool racks

It’s been a week since my last post, basically because I’ve been too busy to do anything in the garage. I managed to get a bit done this weekend though.

First on the list was a tool rack for Dad’s old toledo chisels. These are my favourites and I’ve ‘permanently borrowed’ them from him and they’ve been rolling around in a tool caddy since then.

I still had some merbau decking left over from the last racks I made so marked up a piece using another rack as a template.

I cut it to length on the dropsaw and took the corners off with a tenon saw.

Then I drilled holes to match the ferrule size of each chisel with Forstner bits and cut the slots out to let the tools out with a jigsaw.

I used a block plane to chamfer the edges and then gave it a good sand, then using the pegboard as a guide marked out the position of the screw holes.

Then to screw the rack to the pegboard and test it out. Looks good I think. Lift the chisel and turn it sideways to remove, and no chance of them falling out and damaging the edge. I’ve still got a few more tool racks to go though to get all my tools stored properly.