A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Improving Shop Tool Storage with Mag-Bloks

Organizing tools in the shop is always a challenge for everyone. Using available space to keep every thing you need close at hand without creating clutter is always a balancing act. This post focuses on my bench tools which I like to keep close at hand on my main bench.

A while back I bought a few of the Benchcrafted One-of-a-kind Mag-Bloks. if you are not familiar with these Mag-Bloks, check them out here. I purchased some cherry ones a few years ago and they have very strong holding power, with a nice wood covering. The one-of-a-kind Mag-Bloks are offered from time-to-time on their website and are always made from unique woods - a serious weakness of mine...

Once I received these nice pieces in the mail I set them out on the bench for a few days and noodled on how to best use them. Eventually I settled on attaching them to the back of my bench for rulers, awls, screwdrivers and a few pieces I wanted to keep handy. But for me, just attaching them to the bench was not enough, I needed to upgrade them!! My solution was to insert a piece of wood between the Mag-Blok and the bench back to hold a row of hand tools. This picture shows the layout on a piece of 5/8" tigerwood and some of the tools layed out for the best arrangement.

Once I had a layout I was okay with, over to the tablesaw to dado out the openings to about 3/8" depth, this provided plenty of clearance for all the tools I was planning on storing there. This piece was then attached between the Mag-Blog and Bench using the Mag-Bloks screws and voila lots of storage for my collection of mostly cocobolo handled hand tools - I very nice setup I must say so myself.

Saws and such...

Chisels and Marking tools.

A nice addition to my bench storage without taking up too much space.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Old Plane gets new look.

This is my trusty Lie-Nielson No. 4 which I have had for many years and is probably the plane I use the most on a day-to-day basis. I had seen some of the work done by Catharine Kennedy online before and thought this trusty old standby could use some new clothes. I ripped the plane apart and sent the body and lever cap off to Catharine to do her magic. My only guidance was "less filigree and more acanthus" and I think she got it bang on.

She also engraved my initials on the lever cap, which looks great as well. Once this gets mauled a bit and the bronze patina restored it will look like the =trusty ole steed that it is - just with a new pair of shoes!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Beautiful new planes land in new home

I just got back from one of my all too regular trips to Toronto, but this time I got to do a little something for myself for a change. I rented a car and drove up to Kitchener to visit Konrad Sauer to pick up my new infill planes he has been building for me. More about the planes in a little bit; but first I need to say Konrad is one of the good guys in this business and a real pleasure to meet in person, after many months of online dialog.

Of course I got a tour of his awesome shop, but we had a chance to talk about everything from the business to our boys - like running into an old friend I have not seen for years. A couple hours went by all too quickly and I had to hit the road to catch my plane home.

From my reading and personal observation, Konrad is one of the pre-eminent plane builders working today - and Canadian too! His approach very much seeks a complete balance between form and function - his planes have a stunning visual presentation, as well as dreamy usability. I had a chance to look over a number of his works in progress, and there are many other lucky woodworkers out there, all sizes and styles of planes, matched with exquisite wood choices - illustrating the true artist at work.

The first plane I ordered many months ago was a small Norris No. 7 Shoulder plane to give me the tool to clean out dadoes as well as tenon shoulders. I picked the small one to give me the flexibility to cover most sizes. I am very pleased with this little guy, executed in Brazilian Rosewood infill and bronze sides, it looks and feel amazing in my hand. And oh yeah, it is sharp as a razor and leaves a flawless smooth edge in its wake.

After I waited a few weeks for the No. 7, I felt now was the time to replace my Record No. 6 with an infill. I use that plane for rough jointing of lumber by hand to better control the process, and often to waste less material, I will finish it with a tiny skim on the power jointer to make sure its square and flat after the plane is done. While I do not do much surface prep by hand, I feel if I had the hand tool to do so, I would go this route over other more aggressive options - like the belt sander!

This plane is an A1 Panel Plane, which serves many purposes from true jointer to flattening flat surfaces for finishing. I chose Brazilian Rosewood for the infill as I love the colour and Konrad had more from the same piece the No. 7 was made from, so why not? This picture shows this magnificent beast in all its 16.5" glory. A little shorter than the No. 6, but much heavier and much smoother to use. It takes shavings you can see through with virtually no effort.

These two planes will have a permanent place of honour in my shop as well my go-to planes for many uses. I am also sure my grandchildren will get many years of use before they hand them off to their children, a true heirloom piece I am honoured to be the custodian of for future generations.