What to do with a Fallen Maple and a Disaster Reminder…

November 3, 2011

Hi,

Cisco the blogging cat here…

Well, if you’re like us you’ve had tree-down problems here on the Cape (and elsewhere…) For us, most of this is manageable, but still there ‘The Beast”… That’s 4′ long by 2’ in dia. maple, and we want to convert it into a couple of 24″ wide planks… (No way we’re burning that piece!) It’s too big for any of the local sawmills, so the only way to attack this thing is with wedges, a splitting maul, and sledges… Here the crack is just starting to show…

After two hours, a broken ax, a broken maul, and a fractured wedge, this is what we have…

The plan is to flatten the faces of the soon-to-be planks, air dry them for a few years, and then mill to the final dimensions… 1″ x 24″ x 48″. After that, they’ll probably become the top or face panel for: a large blanket chest, a small Shaker sewing center, or perhaps an elongated Shaker work table. Oh goody… Thank heavens they don’t weigh much.

Sore by the racks…

Three cats blogging…

P.S. Don’t forget that roughly 140,000 of your fellow Massachusites are still without power… The American Red Cross is a good thing.


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.

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Buying a Used Tool (Part 2 of 2)

August 9, 2011

Hey!

Cisco the HSS blogging cat here…

Last time we posted, we were looking at used tools… Let’s finish that up. (Before we really get started, as always, be safe. Read and understand all safety instructions for any tool, and always wear eye protection.)

  • When you consider a used (or new) tool, be sure to check for structural anomalies.  Is the work surface flat? Are relevant components plumb and square? Do the mechanisms work through their full range of functionality?
  • Do you need variable speed or fixed. I have a variable speed scroll saw, and after using that, I will never use a fixed speed model. (On the other hand, someone who simply needs a bit of fancy wood butchery for a plate rack would probably be better suited with a cheaper, single speed saw.)
  • Speaking of speed, be sure that you match the blade to the RPM of the tool.
  • With the machine unplugged, see how much slop is in the motor shaft and moving parts… Beware the loosey goosey.
  • Can you buy/make sharpening equipment?
  • Years ago, I learned to cut dovetails quite quickly and accurately by hand. When the price of  so called ‘dovetail machines’ dropped to apx. $100, I jumped — huge mistake. By the time I set up the machine, got it dialed in, got the router chucked, ran a couple of test cuts, I could have been done just doing the job by hand.If you only need to replace a dovetailed drawer, I’d say study the online dovetail lessons, buy some second-hand chisels, and practice. Here’s a series of dovetails I cut in short order with nothing more than a mallet, a sharpened old chisel, and a coping saw:

Moral of the story? Sometimes, it simply doesn’t make sense to blow $150 -$250 on a used tool system when $5 and some practice will do. (Now, if you have a production shop, that’s a horse of a different wheelbase.)

  • Don’t shy away from industrial-grade stuff… Usually it’s longer lasting, and more readily maintainable.
  • Dust control: If nothing else, pick up a used 5 HP Sears for $50. Buy a replacement filter, and at least then you have a start.
  • Worry about tolerances. How accurate is the machine. For example, if you’re buying a used table saw, how accurate is the blade to the base? Take a quality square, make a test cut and test it.
  • (Scratch the tip above. Take a Wixey and really put the machine to the test.)
  • Every so often, you’ll see a 1950s drill or saber saw. It will be a beauty — all shiny… Worry. If you’re holding a metal case and there’s an electrical short… Look out. Only buy safe, double-insulated tools. And if a seller has cut off the third prong on a three-prong plug, run.
  • Ah, so you’ve finally found that perfect 220V machine. Can your shop handle it? Is it a single phase or three phases? Phase converters aren’t cheap.
  • What’s the history of the tool? It doesn’t take long to see a battered tool.
  • Never lose sight of safety. Do you really want a used safety harness, air compressor, or a chain fall?
  • If you buy a heavy machine and don’t take into consideration the thought of moving it around the shop, you’ll be sorry…
  • Consider a used back-up tool. Your job may demand that you spend $150 plus on a quality circular saw. Fine. But do yourself a favor — pick up a decent $25 used temporary replacement. Sooner or later…
  • Know your steels. I like high-speed steel for drill bits, RC-rated planer blades, and a softer steel for chisels. Do your homework.
  • Used chisels are almost a dime a dozen. If the edge hasn’t turned purple (overheating during sharpening), you recognize the name, and it only costs a buck, go for it.
  • Don’t dismiss homemade stuff. I make all my own mobile bases for the heavier equipment — not bad.
  • Does the tool use direct drive or belt drive. I tend to like direct drive because it offers a ‘cushion’ when the going gets tough. Direct drive tends to kick more. (IMHO anyway…)

Finally, be honest with yourself. What do you really need? Ask around. Use the comments on Amazon as a source of tool info.Think and re-think…

In the sawdust by the racks…

Two cats blogging…


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


Buying a Used Tool (Part 1 of 2)

August 8, 2011

Hey! Cisco the HSS blogging cat here…

As the economy constricts, more and more people are going to want to follow Da Gizz’s lead, and start doing their own handiwork and home maintenance. And in order to that, you’ve got to have tools… In a sec, I’ll share a few tips on buying used tools  gleaned from 30 years of woodworking… But first, consider the $100 radial arm saw below…

Very nice, and to replace it, it would cost over $600. But, (once again) in this economy, $600 is a ton of money… So how to buy a quality, used tool on something like ‘Craig’s List’ or ‘eBay’? Well, here are those tips… Before we really get started, as always, be safe. Read and understand all safety instructions for any tool, and always wear eye protection.

  • First, objectively decide how much tool do you need? There’s no sense in buying a $1,500 Unisaw when a $75 Sears 10″ would do.
  • Be skeptical about the ‘NIB’ (New In Box…) Maybe it’s me, but I tend to worry about ‘refurbished’ or ‘hot’ product…
  • When you inspect the tool, consider the wear of things like bearings, seals, and brushes. (Does the machine leak oil or fluid?  Do parts rattle when they shouldn’t? Does the electric motor spark excessively? Do your homework and test a newish, quality machine and use that as a gauge for your potential purchase.)
  • Are rascals like those just mentioned easily accessed within the tool itself?
  • Do you get the essentials? Manuals? Guards? Blades? Motor?
  • Is the seller offering neat accessories? A stand may not be a requirement, but sure can make life easier…
  • I won’t buy a used battery-driven tool… It’s too easy to foul up the charging process and destroy the battery. And new batteries aren’t cheap.
  • Consider vintage tools, but carefully! Some of the 1950’s table saw are fantastic in quality, but…
  • Old or new, can you get replacement parts? Check this out before buying!
  • Carefully consider things like weight, and footprint. Moving the saw in the photo above was an adventure involving dollies, friends, and a block and tackle.
  • Should you buy name brand? I like to stick with Rockwell/Delta, Craftsman, Rigid, etc., but there are times when no-name is just fine. If I had to buy a small anvil, I’d definitely go to Harbor Freight, a Chinese tool distributor.
  • Consider where and when the tool was made. Japan makes good hand saws. Germany makes good steel. Americans make (or at least used to) good machines.
  • Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Beware the power tool that uses ‘white’ or ‘pot’ metal!!! Pot metal is a silver-ish mottle of a metal, and crumbles faster than a New Year’s resolution. It’s common in Chinese power tools, but is making its way into American brands as well.
  • Finally, (for today at least) Does the tool have any cracks, chips, missing parts, rust? And how does that cord look?

Continued next time by those thrifty racks…

Two cats blogging…


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


Annoying Woodworking Math Problem Solved

July 20, 2011

Hey!

Cisco the Harwich Spirits Shoppe blogging cat here… Bet you didn’t know that we cats like to do a little woodworking from time to time. (Then again, look at your chair leg, and you’ll probably be reminded of some of our handiwork.) But it ain’t all scathing and fur balls for us… Nope! Occasionally we like to get behind a table saw and rip ourselves some wood proper. But therein lies the rub — when you need to rip a board into numerous equal widths, how do you calculate the distance from fence to inner side of blade with the least waste? (If you’ve done any woodworking, you’ve no doubt run up against this problem too.) Here we go…

Take a look at the quick drawing I did on a piece of scrap wood… That represents the essence of our hassle  — how do we rip a 1 X 6 (actually five and a half inches wide) into four equal pieces using a blade with a 1/8″ (.125″) kerf?

Alrighty then… The issue boils down to adding up four unknown widths (I call them each, “X”) and three .125″ kerfs. So, 4X + .375″ has to equal 5.5″… Put another way, taking into account the kerfs, we’ve got to split 5 & 1/8″ (5.125″) four way. And that equals 1.28125″/strip.

Greatttt… I can’t exactly set my fence to 1.28125″. So what is 1.28125″ in fractional lingo. The table below should probably help…

Yup, set your fence to 1 & 9/32″ and that will do it. (Actually, I’d set my fence for 1 & 9/32″ minus a hair — have to take into account blade wobble, edge cupping or bowing, gremlins, etc.)

And that’s it… It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to get four equal strips out of a 1 X 6, or seven sticks out of a 2 X 12… The math never changes — just know the number of strips, accurately take into account the kerf, draw out your board with cuts, do the math, figure in the gremlins, and away you go…

Two cats, covered in sawdust, by the racks blogging…


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.
 


Not Building a Shaker Dining Table

April 12, 2011

OK,

So we’ve had a slight change in plans… Shaker out, farm in…

Of course, ours will look considerably different… We’ve got those nice wide antique planks, and we’ll probably go with turned legs. (Interesting note about the legs… A few years ago, I built a kitchen island, and discovered that the pre-turned legs were cheaper than the plane timber I needed to make them from scratch. No doubt that the turning was done in China shipped to Cape Cod… Sigh…) I don’t know if we’ll paint the table though; we certainly won’t paint the top…

Ah… Two cats in a workshop ‘wrastlin’ with wily wood and power tools… What could possibly go wrong?

By the racks and the band aid isle,

Two cats blogging


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


Building a Shaker Dining Table

April 8, 2011

Hey,

Cisco the blogging and woodworking cat here… We have a new project before us — namely building a Shaker table… (Do you remember the hutch project?) Right now, all we have are the 60 year old, 18″ wide rough boards for the table top…

But we can scrounge the rest from my over-sized stockpile of wood…

In general, here’s what we’re thinking about…

All told, the job isn’t that tough, but the devil is in the details… Will I need just one stretcher or two? Should I chip carve the stretcher(s) or leave plain? How do I join the two pieces of the table top and keep them flat without inviting a split? (I know that I’ll need floating battens and bread boards, but what size and how many?) How will I stain and seal?

You see the crazy stuff you get into on this blog???

Cisco in the sawdust,


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.


Contest for Carpenters, Craftsmen etc.

November 29, 2010

Hey, Cisco the HSS blogging cat here…

We still have a couple open contests (write a story and word search), but what the hay, why not another one? This one is right up the alley for all you shop mavens… Take a look at photo below… What is that thing (or what are those things) beside the penny?

The rules are as always, (see above contests) and the prize is a $25 gift certificate for beer or wine at HSS.

But seriously… What is that a pic of??? You’ll have to be specific to win…

So get chopping sawdust hounds… What the heck is that thing?

Two cats waiting by the racks…


Wine Glossaries

* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.

Beer Glossaries

* ratebeer: Now that’s a straightforward name!
* beer-pages: Roger Protz and Tom Cannavan say that “it’s all about beer”.
* alphaDictionary.com: A fine collection of Beer dictionaries.