Category Archives: Projects

>Wormy Chestnut and Wenge Hand Plane

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For some time now I have wanted to build a hand plane but have always had some other project I need to finish first, well I decided that I would always have some other project to finish and just jumped into the hand plane project.  The thought of building a project with tools I have made very appealing to me, so I thought a nice wooden hand plane would be a perfect start. 
Cutting of the body went fast and I was soon able to dry fit all of the pieces together to see how the rough plane would look.  For the bed I went with the 50 degree angle that was shown on the in the illustration.  There is always a lot of debate as to the best angle for the iron to rest at and a lot of the decision depends on your intended purpose and type of wood, but for myself I typically like a higher angle.After doing a little research online I found a style I liked and a downloadable plan from Popular Mechanics website, this seemed like a strange place for a wooden hand plane plan but the illustration is great.  Anxious to get started and not wanting to go buy more wood I looked around the shop to see what I had.  I decided that a 6/4 wormy Chestnut board I had would be great for the body but for the sole and wedge I started with a Cherry…  but after some welcome advice from Scott Meek of Scott Meek Wood Works, I realized that a denser wood would be more suited for the project and would help resist wear over time.  I decide to go with Wenge as I liked the contrast against the Chestnut and I have always wanted to use it in a project.  
As a side note I did not realize how hazardous Wenge dust can be and did not start out using adequate protection to keep from breathing in the dust.  You can read more about this in my previous post Dealing with Toxic Wood Dust, but I can tell you this stuff can be rough if you inhale it.   
One mistake that I made and did not realize until to late was that I should have glued that sole plate on to the rough stock before I cut it into the front, back, and side pieces.  By not having the sole glued on before, I realized that I needed to glue sole plates onto each of the pieces and then clean the pieces back up again.  I was concerned that if I tried to glue the sole plate one after the body I would have had a difficult time keeping the mouth clean and flush with the inside of the body. 
Before gluing the plane together I order the iron and chip breaker, I went with a Hock blade that I ordered for Highland Woodworking.  The blade was great right out of the package and with only a little honing was ready to cut.  I used the iron to make final adjustments and placements before final glue up.  After the glue was set I planed each of the faces one more time to make sure everything was square and flush. 
For the final part of the process I needed to shape the body of the plane to its final dimensions.  I decided to just freehand the shape onto the plane with a pencil.  After a few adjustments of my lines I was satisfied and cut away the waste.  All that was left was to sand everything smooth.  Now, as for a finish there are many opinions as to whether a finish should be applied or not, but for this post I decided to stop at this point.  However, I am going to put a few coats of Tung oil on for protection and….well I just think it looks better! 
This plane works great and I could not more pleased with how it cuts with only a little adjustment.  It was a great little project be build and can’t wait to build another.  

Please leave a comment below and share your opinions and experiences.  As always thanks for reading!

Chris

Below is the illustration I used and a link to the Popular Mechanics site.

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>Loft Bed

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My daughter is now two and a half and my wife and I have another on the way so…. time to move the little one out of the crib, the only problem is that she doesn’t like the toddler bed that was passed down to her because she is afraid of falling out of it….so what do I, well I am building her a loft bed that is 4′ off the ground, makes sense right?  Yea, I thought so too.

I decided on a loft bed after seeing a few with play areas built under them, and decided that she would like that and may even build a slide later to attach to it.  Also, with a railing all the way around I think she will feel more secure than in the toddle bed that the rails are now long gone.  Plus, when she gets older we can slide another bed under for bunks.

I wanted to build the bed using 2X material but not have it look like 2X material, so I ripped all of the edges to take off the rounded look and change the dimension slightly.  I also wanted 4″ square corner post but could not find any other than in pressure treated at the local hardware store, so I decided to glue up three 2X6’s and rip them down to size.  The headboard and footboard are mortised, glued, and lagged using 3/8″ lag bolts.

I have completed the head and footboards and am now cutting the mortises for the sideboards to connect the two ends together, if I would have thought about it I should have left a block out with glueing up the legs to save time on cutting the mortises out.  The next step is to finish cutting to mortises and cut the sideboards to size for a test at the fit.  Then it is a matter of prepping for finish!

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>Tree Box

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   This weekend I had a little time to spend in the shop and wanted to cut a few dovetails as it has been a while. I am getting ready to start a chest of drawers project as part of the Woodwhisperer Guild summer build and will need to cut quite a few dovetails, so I decided to play around a little. Before long I ended up with a cool little box.
I started with cutting a few dovetails in some scrap oak I had laying around the shop. After I finished they fit so nice I decided to go ahead and make a box out of them. I lined the inside with cherry for the lid to sit on and also used cherry for the base and lid. The holes I drilled in the sides to show some of the cherry lining as a contrast to the oak.
The tree came from an idea that I have had for a while. I sketched the tree onto a 1/4″ piece of oak and cut it out using my scroll saw. Once the shape was cut out I used a wood carving bit on my dremel to finish the tree. After carving tree I realized that because the surface of the tree was now uneven I was going to have a problem clamping it to the lid while gluing it down. The solution I came up with was to apply the glue to the back of the tree, lay it on the lid and then cover it with plastic wrap for protection. I then placed pea gravel over the surface and set a weight on top. The pea gravel allowed the weight to have even pressure over the surface.

This was a fun little project to build and sometimes it is nice just to see where inspiration takes us.

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>Just Finished the Desk!

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I just finished my drafting/desk and finally brought it into the house this evening. This was a great project to make and there were two new techniques I used on this project, so I learned a lot. As part of the design for this desk I decided that I wanted a slight taper and curve to the legs and I wanted a deep red Mahogany color.

After making a template for the legs I contemplated how to cut each leg out, the fastest way would have been to either use a flush trim bit with a router against my template or just freehand with a band saw. However, with only 1/2” difference from the top of the leg to the bottom and a 3/8” arch for the curve, I decided to just mark each leg and use my block plane. I had just purchased a new block plane and was looking forward to trying it out, cutting the legs out was a great opportunity for me to spend some time seeing how I liked the plane. The block plane I purchased was the Stanley Sweetheart number 9 1/2 block plane, I have been a little reluctant about these planes as I tend to lean towards the Veritas or Lie Nielsen but decided to give it a try and was very pleased with how the plane handled. The blade is pretty heavy and the plane has an adjustable mouth although it does not adjust as close to the blade as I would like. At any rate the plane handled well and I really enjoyed cutting out the legs by hand. There is just something that is very peaceful about working by hand.

The rest of the installation was pretty typical with mortis and tendon connections for the legs and rails. But the finish was a little different that I am accustomed to. I decided that I wanted the desk a deep Mahogany red but could not find a stain that gave me the color I wanted. I tend to like woods fairly natural but with the location this piece was going we didn’t want it to blend in with the area. I have never worked with dyes and decided to give it a try. After some experimenting with different colors the combination of a Mahogany water based dye and Minwax Special Walnut oil based stain gave the color I wanted. I typically always preraise the grain especially in oak and ended up with a great color when ready to apply the hand rubbed poly finish. After four coats I am very pleased with the finish.

If anyone has followed my progress on this table you will know that another element that I incorporated into the desk was to be able to tilt the desk up to use as a small drawing/drafting table. I made the arm to hold the top from wood using the basic design of a lawn chair with adjustable back. I have everything in place but am waiting on a hinge that I order to come in to secure the front. As soon as I get this I will take more pictures of the final design.

After bring the table into the house my wife said it looked great but asked what chair I was going to use with the desk……so that brings me off to the next project!

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>Drafting Desk 3

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I have finally finished the woodworking part of the drafting desk and am now ready for the finishing. I believe it turning out pretty well.

I do have a funny story about putting the top together. I have said before that usually work on larger boards up at my fathers shop in North Carolina. I decided to make the top up there as it would be easier to make and my wife and I were driving up for the weekend from Atlanta anyway. I had all of the boards for the top jointed and the biscuits cut when I realized that I didn’t have any glue. My father said that he would borrow some from a guy next door who also builds furniture. After finishing and getting back to Atlanta I notice a few days later that the boards were coming apart! I called my father and he said that as he was walking out the door with the glue the guy call out to not use the glue below forty degrees, dad just ignored him thinking the Elmer’s wood glue he always used seemed to be okay even below forty, but it seems this one was not. I am still not sure what kind of glue it was but it reminded me of the old saying to never go on a hunt with an untried firearm. I ended up just making another top but I did lose time in having to redo it.

I will start applying the dye this weekend and will post more with an update on how things are coming.

Also check out my podcast which can be listened to directly from the site or search High Rock Woodworking in itunes.


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>Wood Gear Clock

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I have always had a fascination with how things work. As a kid I drove my parents’ crazy taking things apart but it was part of learning. Even today I will look at something a wonder how it was made or how it works. For most things I believe that if someone else can do it then so can I, now I am not saying that I am smarter than anyone else, I believe for the most part that all of us can figure most things out if we try.

Around a year ago I was looking at a pendulum clock, I have always been fascinated with clocks but never understood how they worked. I started reading articles on the internet and learned the basics. I will not get into detail unless anyone wants more information but the most interesting aspect of a clock is the pendulum. The time it takes a pendulum to make one revolution is the same whether it swings one inch or twelve inches, the only thing that changes the time it take to make that one revolution is the distance of the pendulum its self. Because of this it is great for keeping time as you have a constant that can be used to release the gears.
The point of this article is not to explain how a clock works but what I gained from it. In researching I came across clocks made of wood…gears and all! Being a woodworker I was intrigued by this and decided to research more and found a web site called http://www.wooden-gear-clocks.com . The web site offers plans and kits for wooden clocks. I ordered a set of the plans and went to work.

It was a great project but the gears are very tedious so a scroll saw is a must. There were so many parts that I sent around three months just working on it a little at a time. The plans include full size patterns that I simply applied directly to the material to be cut with a spray contact glue, anytime you try this make sure to only spray one side or it will not come off later. After cutting and finishing all of the parts it was time to start assembly. This was not as difficult of a task as I had though as the plans were easy to read.

Because wood is so sensitivity to moisture and temperature it is not a clock you can just hang on the wall and forget about. It takes some time to get adjusted just run but I have it accurate within about a minute in twelve hours. It is a great conversation piece and it was great learning about how clocks work.
Chris Adkins

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>Drafting Desk 2

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Last week I talked about the drafting desk that I am currently working on. I have made a lot of progress and now have all of the parts made and partially put together. Over the weekend my wife and I went up to North Carolina to spend Easter with our families. I took the opportunity to work in my fathers shop a little. If any of you read my blog “Old School v. New School” I spoke about how I grew up working in his shop but now have adapted my style around the space I have available at home. The last piece of the table I needed to make was the top so I decide to take advantage of the 24” planer while I was there.

After finishing the top I spent some time just looking around. Writing on this blog has made me spend more time thinking of the experiences I have had. Looking around I was amazed at some of the tools I took for granted that I have always had access to. I would love to write an entry based off of my father shop sometime.
This week I plan on putting the rest of the parts together and prepping everything for finish. I must say that finishing has always been my weak point and I am going outside of my realm of comfort on this project and trying a combination of dye and stain. The project is made of White Oak, I am using a Mahogany water based dye with an Early American oil based stain over it and finishing with a wipe on poly. I have made several test boards and like the results, so I am excited about getting started.
I will post more soon on my progress.

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