This weekend I will be attending Woodworking-in-America in Covington Ky, to sit in with Mary May a classical trained carver. She will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference and I suspect draw many local carvers to the event. She isn’t only one of the top architectural carvers but a well known internet teacher, providing many hours of well done video instruction on her web site at a reasonable rate.
I ran across a deal on a Ridgit jointer last week for less than $300 dollars at Direct Tool Outlet, so I bought it! While it is only a six inch jointer and I was really wanting an eight inch joiner, I really couldn’t afford the bigger one at this time with the consideration that I would of had to upgrade my electric to 220 to accommodate it. It’s my true hope to find some old relic of a jointer that is 12″ or so then I wouldn’t mind paying for the upgrade as much, until then a six inch will suffice. If I did need to flatten anything bigger than six inches then that I will use one of my many hand planes.
From 1918 magazine advertisement. Caption: “The Porter Style C Jointer with direct motor drive. Practical in every respect. Ideal for the School. A high grade tool made by specialists. C. O. Porter Machine Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So what are some basic skills for a woodworker? This is a question that I was thinking about yesterday working in my shop. I think the most basic of skills is to be able to take a rough piece of lumber and dimension it down to the finished size needed to be able to be used, this includes cutting it to length, width, planing it to straight and to thickness, and making both all four sides parallel. That process is repeated many times in a project because that is the bases of each piece of wood you use in the project, unless you work with plywood or already dimensioned lumber in which case some of them steps have already been done for you.
The question for most woodworkers is ” what tools and techiqnec do I use to get from rough lumber to dimensioned, ready to use lumber”? Some use only handtools, some power tools and some use a mixed shop picking the tool they feel that is the best for the job. Me, I like to keep it simple, I use the simplest tool and method I can to get the job done, sometimes thats is a handsaw to cut an 8′ board down to a 5′ board, but if I have more than three or four cuts I get out my circular saw and let it do the manual labor, if I have some wonky cuts I might get out my jig saw, if I am cutting really thick boards I’ll use a sawz all with a tree trimming blade in it, or if I am cutting timbers I use my electric chain saw. There are many times in my work flow or I am working with dimensioned lumber and need repetitive cuts so I set up my miter saw with a stop on the fence and use it. Which ever tool I use it falls back on me knowing my basic woodworking skills and going for the tool that is the safest, simplest and quickest to get the job done.
Since one of reasons I write this blog is to create a record for my grandsons to read one day, I think I will start a series on basic woodworker skills for them. Most will find this repetitive and thats alright with me, some might even disagree with how I do things and again thats alright with me, but to those that this series may help remember there are many ways do this thing we call woodworking, learn the basics then go out and develop your own ways of doing it, be safe, have fun, don’t over complicate things REMEMBER it’s only wood, and BUILD BUILD BUILD.
I don’t know how many of these I have seen in the trash, its drawer bases from the old water beds. Well last week a neighbor ask me if I could help her carry one out to the dumpster because she didn’t want it any more, it was left over from a long ago wash up water bed that she was now using under a bunk bed. It was missing a drawer but other than that looked to be OK so I ask if she mind if I recycled it, which she thought was great idea. I thought at lease I could salvage the wood for a clamp rack I need to build, so off to the shop it went. I sat it up on my bench and while moving another table around that I had my miter saw on I happen to sit my saw up on top of the drawers and bingo I got the idea. It appeared that the center section was just wide enough for the saw with some modifications, I could set the saw into it and have a drawer on each side to hold odd and ends that you always need at the saw like a tape measure. Next I needed legs, then I remembered I had some folding legs, which are prefect, that means I can take it on job site with me. The frame wasn’t the most ridged so I made a strong back from 2 x 4 for it to rest on this also raised to a height that I like for sawing, I really hate beaning over a saw trying to see my mark. I knew the 2 x 4 wasn’t going to stay true so I am giving them a couple of days to adjust to my shop then I will use a straight edge and adjust the table top so it and the saw is in one plane then I will screw everything down using wedges that way if it needs adjusted in the future it will be easy, put some new rubber feet I got on the legs and add a power strip so if I do take it on a job site its ready to go to work. I used it to cut 2 x 4s for my clamp rack, and while it still needs a fence it worked great. A friend of mine who is a carpenter already tried to steal it from me so now it’s on the look out for an waterbed frame so he can build his own, but I bet he just builds one from scratch.
I would like to start by saying that I have been a reader of Fine Woodworker for thirty year I even have issue #1 (no it’s not for sale). I have depended on the high level of expertise in their article’s since I started my career as a cabinetmaker, and the same with Fine Homebuilding for my career as a carpenter.
I have work as a professional cabinetmaker and high end trim carpenter both residential and commercial and consider myself very good at it, I have always been passionate about it and never stop trying to learn my trade that why I am still a reader of FWW, I was trained at the University of Cincinnati as a cabinetmaker, but even with all that I still don’t consider myself an expert. working in this field you get boxed in and while you get to do quite a large assortment of jobs you really don’t change up the way you work very much, when you are on the clock you go with what works. You become very both proficient and efficient at the task you have do like installing crown, or building kitchen cabinets. After doing it every day it seems to narrow your view on how things are done, thats where the internet comes in for me. Its where I get to sample everyone else take on how things are done from the beginner to other seasoned woodworkers like myself and that is where the value is for me. It also reminds me of the passion I had when I was twelve years old, collecting pop bottles so I could buy my first jig saw and drill from Oakley Hardware to build my first woodworking project.
I listen to Fine Woodworking’s podcast and for the most part enjoy it, I heard the show where Asa put his foot in his mouth, I think where Asa made a mistake, is he was wearing his editor’s cap and thinking in comparison to the magazine, and not thinking as an everyday woodworker would, who reads and enjoys woodworking blogs. I still have to say I am glad this blew up and brought the internet woodworking community to his attention and I am looking forward to Fine Woodworking working with this community in the future. I think Asa has gone a long way to apologize to anyone who might of been offended and that say’s a lot about him, I think this whole thing will only improve things between a great magazine and the woodworking blog/podcasting community.
One of the big draw backs of the space I am using for a shop is the total lack of climate control. I have said in one of my last post that it is like an above ground basement, let me explain that statement, what I have is a block building with a brick face and a concrete floor with no windows or doors except the main entry door. There is no heating or air conditioning and it seems to sweat moisture around the wall and floor joint. With no windows I also have no air circulation except the fans I have placed to keep it moving in a around the shop.
Now I know I am going to have to address the heat, but I still have six months to work that out, and with the wall being 12″ of cement and brick it stays fairly cool although damp and with two fan constantly moving air ti has been comfortable, but a dehumidifier would help to at lease keep moisture levels to a decent place to store wood and build furniture and on my list of must haves, I am just trying to find a used one before buying new.
I am also considering painting the walls with a moisture blocking paint made for block walls like Dryloc, and cleaning and caulking the seam between the floor and wall with a hydraulic blocking caulk made for wet basements to try to stop any water that may be getting in that way. This would help stop the walls from sweating and collecting on the floor around the shop where I have been seeing most of the moisture. The I would like to seal the floor with a good cement floor sealer.
I could go all out and fur out the walls with some 2×3 and put up some 1 1/2″ solid foam board and cover it with plywood or OSB, but since I rent this space I really think my money right now is better spent else where, like on wood for projects. I really don’t want to turn this into a project where I build a great shop, but a shop where I build great projects.